The Word

Here’s a quick post for Amylee.

The Word was an anarchic late night post-pub live TV show in the early 90s that had interviews, games, members of the public doing outrageous shit and – for me, the main point – live music.

It was condescendingly dubbed ‘yoof’ TV at the time and derided by the media as childish and a degradation of culture. The critics were probably media people in their late 20s/early 30s that hated being made to look old by a programme that was truly outrageous (one memorable slot had people drinking salt water, puking in a cup and then immediately drinking their own puke!) and anarchic and made the custard pie throwing of 80s entertainment look quaint in comparison. They probably hated all the noisy music too!

Here are a few performances that all had a profound impact on at least one meek and mild suburbun boy.

Rage Against the Machine – Killing In The Name
Loads of swearing and a stage invasion – what’s not to like?!

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Nirvana’s world TV debut performance has Kurt declaring Courtney Love of the rock band Hole “the best fuck in the world”

L7 – Pretend We’re Dead
Drum destroying, bits flashing, blistering performance. I went out and bought the album the very next day!

Oasis – Supersonic
TV debut with Liam looking impossibly young and beautiful

28 thoughts on “The Word

  1. You’re a doll, Panth, can’t wait to listen! It’s way early here now to jump into RATM, but i’ll be there (like when the sun comes up) for sure. Nice to see some Oasis love too, i fully realize that Liam is a (hilarious and beautiful) twat but the tunes still rock. And that song is in fact on my massive S list for next week.

    • I’m an unashamed (well, OK…a little bit ashamed!) Oasis fan – strictly first two albums only.

      I was at Knebworth with my indietastic skinny-fit Oasis t-shirt and have many many fond memories of listening to Definitely Maybe over and over when I was in the sixth form.

  2. Having to rely on a friend in London to send videotapes of Yo! MTV Raps up to the backwaters of Bolton where we didn’t have satelite/cable tv in’t early ’90’s, The Word was great for catching some live hip-hop. (oh and Mr Mena fancied Katy Puckrik like mad. Saw her once in Manchester – He nearly wet himself! Think she was on The Sunday Show by then).
    Ooo I love Ladybug’s hair here! Had all my curls cut a bit like this over summer, and I can’t decide if I like it – this may make me change my mind.

  3. Nice! Being of the more pikey persuasion, we had Sky TV really early and I used to love Yo! MTV raps…not as much as Ray Cokes’ show though….!

    • Ha! Ray Cokes – totally forgot about him and MTV Most Wanted (think they must have started showing that on terrestrial TV at some point. Tho I do remember having cable for a while – till we couldn’t afford it, or went thru an anti-TV phase or something.

  4. Those were great. Some fine axework in there too. Poor Courtney. (cracked me up that he called Hole a pop band though.) She was so good and is such a train wreck now. As i reckon i’d be if my husband blew his brains out.

    Liam still looks great. Some of these guys have a deal with the devil i think.

  5. Overexcitable teenage piffle.
    In my day we had tunes you couldn’t hum and words you couldn’t sing along to.
    Made me the man I am today.

  6. God, I hated The Word. Everything about it was poor quality, from the presenters to the visuals to the sound… I just didn’t get it. At all. It just seemed cheap and nasty. (Sorry!)

  7. I feel like gagging every time I remember “the hopefuls” section of The Word. Hideous.

    I’d never thought about it until now but I suppose it took all the bits about The Tube that upset people and amplified them. Less emphasis on the music obviously, although I’ve got one mate who became a punk after seeing Lydon on The Word (too young for the Bill Grundy incident).

    The best thing about it was Katie Puckrick!

  8. Bloody hell, I remember watching pretty much all of these live, L7 particularly was burnt into my teen brain, glimpses of lady gardens on the telly were as rare as rocking horse shit in those days – for me The Word was on at that odd time in your teenage years where I wasn’t quite old enough to be going out drinking but I was old enough to know what all this was about (aside from Oasis, I think I would have been out and very posses when that was on)

    Thing is, even to a gang of 14 year olds, we all knew that the program was total shit and that the presenters were narcissistic wankers, but that was part of the charm, it sort of suggested that anybody could do this, you didn’t need to be rich or special in any way, plus in those pre MTV days, this was pretty much the only place you were going to see bands like this live (Nirvana on TOTP the noteable exception)

    Just had a flashback of their very worst presenter – Amanda de Cadanet’s brother Bruno, a total posh imbecile. The Word was of course produced by Jonathan Ross’s brother Paul, possibly one of the least talented people in tv ever.

  9. The rubbishness was the very reason I loved it. Having that beamed live (no seven second delay!) directly into my 16 year-old after pub brain was just brilliant!

      • officially 18, but where I lived (and I presume it was/is the same in small towns across the UK) everyone started going to the pub around 15 or 16 and Friday night was the traditional pub night (rather than Saturday)

      • my daughter in her first year doing art at Uni had a week in New York to see the galleries .. no drinking allowed till 21 .. she was going to swim back .. but found you could drink in the hotel room and survived somehow

  10. It was past my bedtime (in the early days anyway) but I’d sometimes video it and watch it before the Chart Show on Saturday morning. Certainly never forgotten that L7 performance.

  11. Harrumph!

    I concede the music (appallingly mixed though it invariably was) made the programme worth investigating, but the sheer crapness was excrutiating, bad enough on its own to stop me watching. But the killer for me was Terry Christian – I wanted to punch his smug-Manc-t**t-face lights out back then with a gauntlet spiked with rusty nails, and I have to admit time has not mellowed me.


    • I was going to say more or less exactly the same thing, especially as regards TC, but probably less eloquently. We’re probably just showing our age compared with whippersnappers like Japanther.

  12. Well, I was around 40 when The Word smeared itself on our TV screens. It was often truly dreadful and embarrassing but there were also moments of magic (which, oddly, could also be truly dreadful and embarrassing). Yeah, Terry Christian was/is a t**t, but being a (fellow) Manc made that OK. Interviewees were not respected and acts were unruly, making it vitally unpredictable (apart from the predictable truly dreadful and embarrassing bits). Mark Lamarr could be painfully offensive, Katie P could be charmingly offensive, Terry C could be arrogantly offensive and Amanda de Cadanet could be little more than ‘something for the Dads’.
    I don’t actually remember it but, according to Wiki, Nirvana gave their international television debut performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the show, with Kurt Cobain declaring Courtney Love to be “the best fuck in the world.” Where on TV would that happen now?

    The Tube was good too.

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