MTV Bytesize (MTV, 1999-2002)
The early days of digital TV really were great weren’t they, and here is some more proof. Because I have just about run out of TV shows to review now, and I while I put a few pieces about other things together, I might as well do this one. In the late-90s, MTV showed music videos in various strands. These included MTV Select (that I reviewed recently), where viewers could phone in and request videos.
There was also HitList UK (where the songs at the top end of the singles chart were featured), and Mad 4 Hits, where videos where shown back-to-back with no host or anything else (and I am reminded of the rather bizarre moment when Oasis had a strop about the size of the captions that appeared at the start and end of videos on MTV), and there was always that “I wonder what would be played next” element.
And there was also this one, which was usually shown in the afternoon for around an hour. Bytesize featured a robot character (who I don’t recall having a name), and every video was proceeded by a clip usually ranging from ten seconds to two minutes. This was introduced by a five-second countdown with lots of beeping noises, and a robot voice saying something odd like “bytesize fun” or “oooh… yummy”.
This clip was usually something from the MTV archive featuring the act whose video was about to be shown, and sometimes it was an outtake from an interview where they were asked a rather bizarre question, while the duration ticked down. We then saw the video. Oh no, not All Saints again! While all of this happened, the MTV symbol in the corner of the screen kept turning into the robot and back again, which could be rather distracting.
And sometimes a ten-second MTV “sting” (as I think they’re called) would be shown instead, and these were rather unusual too. When going into an advert break, sometimes the show was credited as Bytepop, and I’m not sure why, you’d think someone would know what this was called. It was around this point that I usually turned over to check what was on UK Play.
A relaunch of Bytesize in 2000 saw the departure of the robot, to be replaced by some rather surreal clips where people ate rather unusual things introduced the videos instead, although this never seemed to be as good for me really. This carried on until about 2002 when MTV seemed to give up on all of their music shows in any timeslot or genre.