Saturday, April 28, 2007 by

It’s been a bad few weeks for the Popworld brand – first its spin-off magazine closes down after two issues, and now the series itself is being axed.

It could be said that this was inevitable after Simon Amstell and Miquita Oliver quit a year ago. However it’s still enjoyable under the auspices of Alex Zane and Alexa Chung. Chung is particularly good at the comedy stuff, and is much funnier here than she is on Get A Grip (helped by the fact she actually gets to deliver some jokes on Popworld). Zane is perhaps more of an acquired taste, but he’s watchable enough – his recent interview with Lemar, where questions included “Sum up your new album in a facial expression”, “Can I be in your gang?”, and “Promise you’ll never leave us … EVER”, was particularly amusing.

The general point, though, is that it’s yet another pop show to disappear in the last 18 months or so. The ending of Top of the Pops was countered by the return of TOTP2 as a weekly series mixing the past and present, but after six months this has now returned to appearing only as occasional specials, which will obviously limit the appearance of new bands. Five’s attempt to revive CD:UK has collapsed, while ITV1′s replacement for that series has been abandoned due to an inability to find a sponsor.

In addition, for the first time in generations, there’s no live Saturday morning shows on the BBC or ITV, for so long a vital part of the publicity process for pop groups – the BBC are now stringing together pre-recorded shows as they do on weekdays, while ITV1 have stopped bothering completely. All you’ve got now is series like The Album Chart Show andTransmission, shown on Channel 4 in the middle of the night, and similarly nocturnal dadrock extravaganzas like Later with Jools Holland and Live From Abbey Road.

So if you’re a pop group, what mainstream showcases are there for you to perform? There’s Blue Peter, perhaps, the odd appearance between the programmes on T4, and maybe GMTV and This Morning. Maybe the prime slot now is acting as an intermission while the votes are counted on Strictly Come Dancing or Any Dream Will Do.

Hence, for the first time since, well, before The Beatles, maybe, pop music is relegated to filling the gaps on kids TV and variety. This is despite the fact the charts seem to have been revitalised in the past year or so, with the issues that were said to have spelt the end for the singles chart – records always entering at number one, tracks flying in and straight out again – no longer that common.

But now it seems to be YouTube and The Box all the way. Surely there’s room for a half-hour show, with the sort of irreverent but enthusiastic approach of Popjustice or No Rock And Roll Fun, to bring the best of pop to a wider audience. And this is definitely not because knowing so little of what’s in the chart is making me feel ancient.


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