Ground breaking live music TV show The Tube was broadcast from Tyne Tees studios in Newcastle upon Tyne for Channel Four from 1982 to 1987.
The show was broadcast for 90 minutes on a Friday and I was lucky enough to be in the audience for a number of shows which had a big impact on my life.
When I didn’t get tickets I’d be at home with me tea on me lap watching great performances and being introduced to different sounds and styles of music. Someone new and fresh were on every week and the show always delivered a surprise.
There was one week when a duo delivered huge power from what at first looked like an unlikely source. With only a keyboard and microphone set up on stage how loud could a synth pop duo go ?
A young skinny lad with floppy hair stood ready, at a game of football he would have been the last picked, then on walked someone who could of been a school dinner lady.
A clunky pop sound fired up, then the voice, and what a voice. Making one of her first TV appearances was Alison Moyet.
I mentioned the show liked to pull a surprise and someone who featured regularly on the show and tangled with some of the Tube’s Big Wigs was – insert your own description here/eccentric/circus performer/recording artist/surreal South Shields showman, whisper it quietly – Wavis O’Shave.
“When the Tube crew came back from filming me they would run straight off to Malcolm Gerrie (Producer) and tell him ‘You won’t believe what he did!’ Malcolm would reply ‘I would’.
Despite my controversial antics it didn’t stop Producer Gavin Taylor candidly telling my wife that I was the most decent person he had ever known!”
“Sometimes I would witness disputes in the Tube office like when Queen reckoned the show should pay them for a ten grand filming bill, and the show thought that they should be coughing up. I was there when Elvis Costello sent a life size photo of himself with a signed apology after he wrecked his dressing room the week before”.
One of the many faces of Wavis was The Hard, an exaggerated tough working class Geordie possibly the hardest man in the world. Other faces were Mr Ordinary Powder, Mr Starey Oot, Foffo Spearjig, but it was The Hard that got the show’s attention.
“During a live Christmas Eve show Muriel Gray (presenter) hit me over the head with one of those pretend bottles they use in Spaghetti westerns. I was told afterwards that she’d thought she’d killed me!”
“I told her earlier in the day to give me a right good belt and you’d better believe she did. There’s still some doubt as to whether there had been a cock up and it was a real bottle, it sounded like it, it did cut me and there was blood. The show were crapping themselves thinking ‘Insurance’. I felt nowt though”.
Wavis remembers the day he was carpeted by Executive Producer, Andrea Wonfor.
“The BIG boss of the show was Andrea Wonfor, a lovely lady and a huge Wavey fan. I remember when I was first given the freedom of The Tube studio. Andrea had me in her office where I was made to assure her that I would behave”.
“As you can see in her fond recollection I’d asked her – she was a big-wig at Granada at the time – if she would be ref for me in my proposed fight with Chris Eubank for Children In Need or something like that. I had the challenge put thru Chris’ letter box in Brighton but he never came back to me.”
When you were in the studio did you get along with any of the musicians, celebrities or TV crew ?
“Being anti-social and elusive I stayed clear of everyone. I guess this became part of my expected ‘image’. I couldn’t help but see a few in passing like Lemmy and Jim Diamond, but in fact I think most people were quite wary of me and would prefer I kept my distance”.
“When Paula Yates (presenter) wanted my dressing room which was nearer the stage as at the time she was pregnant, she didn’t approach me directly to ask. Think she was well wary of me. Either that or she fancied me rotten”.
“I rarely would turn up at the Friday shows despite having a VIP pass. On one such rare occasion I was invited to go over and say hello to a shy young American girl. I glanced over, and because I had this elusive but anti-social reputation I didn’t bother. Turns out it was Madonna, so I guess I can claim I blew her out”.
(Madge’s first TV performance was on The Tube broadcast from The Manchester Hacienda in 1984.)
What are your memories as The Tube finally closed up shop in 1987 ?
“The last Tube show was aired on its regular Friday slot. I was disappointed as a week before I had filmed The Hard ‘Final Felt nowt feeler’ with my missus in it but it wasn’t included. On the Sunday, when the repeat was aired, there I was edited in as a personal tribute to The Hard and his popularity on the show.
That was the very last ever Tube show not the Friday one. It’s gone missing and remains to this day the Holy Grail of lost Tube shows”.
THE HARD features on ‘Best of the Tube’ DVD.
Alikivi October 2022