The YouTube Files – Up Your Arts.

Up Your Arts (Channel 4, 1989?)

Following “Ted Heath” (as he probably would’ve put it himself) of Victor Lewis-Smith late last year, I thought that I would take a look at another of his shows that I found online. He was best-known for being a TV critic in the London Evening Standard on weekdays for many years, and for a short while he had a column in the national Daily Mirror at the weekend too (I often read both of these).

He became known for making rather bad taste jokes, and barely liking any of the shows that he reviewed, often despairing at the state of the industry. I would quote some more of his famous jokes, but you know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of being an unoriginal thieving bastard (oh no, I’ve done it again!). He also once managed to get on to the cover of Radio Times.

And it could be said that there were some people who didn’t consider the style of humour in his TV and radio comedy shows (including Ads Infinitum and TV Offal) to be the funniest of its era, although even they would have to concede that they were some of the weirdest. This was a one-off that was a spin-off from Club X, a late-night Channel 4 culture show that was so badly received even The Word looked classy by comparison (if you can believe such a thing).

I’m not even sure when this was shown though (possibly around 1989?), maybe in typical VLS style this just randomly turned up in the schedule one night where an episode of Cheers or some such show was expected to be. Now, despite working in the business for so long, he clearly made a very basic mistake. This show was called Up Your Arts, which sounds a lot like “up your arse”, do you think that nobody noticed, how embarrassing!

This was a parody of arts shows, that looked at various subjects, including, opera, the BBC, showbiz, and foreign films. This led to all kinds of unusual moments, including out-of-context interviews with various industry figures, revealing the difference between Bruce Forsyth and Ben Elton, and the idea that Ceefax took a very long time to reach the page that you wanted to look at.

I also noticed that among the cast taking part in the sketches was Denise Black, who would later go on to find fame as Denise Osbourne in Coronation Street, which is a rather big career swerve. I don’t know if Up Your Arts managed to break the barriers of television as was the possible intention, and this was probably watched by about nine people at the time, but it is proof of how VLS really was a one-off.


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