Kate Bush On Swap Shop

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The collision of a serious artist and Saturday morning TV phone-ins.

British Children’s Saturday Morning TV has long been banished to the outer limits of the specialist channel, but from the late 1970s and the next couple of decade, both the BBC and ITV fought it out for the attention of the nation’s youth. At the start of this battle, ITV had the defiantly anarchic Tiswas, which was the show all the cool kids watched (or claimed to watch), but the BBC’s Multicoloured Swap Shop was actually the ratings winner, and although a more staid and sensible show in the Blue Peter tradition, did manage to attract a plethora of top names as guests during its run. Hosted by Noel Edmonds during the run from 1976 to 1982, the show was the place to find the top pop stars of the day and – most excitingly – phone up and ask them questions.

At least, this was exciting for the sort of people who were inclined to phone up and were chosen to ask inane questions. For the viewer at home, it was often an embarrassing parade of fumbling, stuttering kids asking the lamest questions imaginable, a cringeworthy affair for those watching and I imagine a rather painful experience all round for the pop stars who had been roused out of bed at an ungodly hour to appear on live TV after a night of partying, trying to somehow answer questions about their favourite colour or how they did their hair.

Kate Bush, never the most comfortable of artists when it came to the world of light entertainment TV interviews (and she did a lot in the early years of her career) was one of the acts who had to explain their hair to a child who found that more interesting than, say, the inspiration for the songs on The Kick Inside (though that might have led to a very interesting conversation, given the themes of sexual obsession, death, incest and murder spread across the LP). Kate was too polite and professional to show actual contempt during these shows (and believe it or not, this was not the most embarrassing thing that she was made to do), but you can see her die a little inside as interviewer after interviewer quietly took the piss and condescended. By 1982, she had reached a point where she could withdraw from the whole ludicrous affair and simply concentrate on music, but in 1979, she was still obliged to do promotional fluff like this, and you can see how uncomfortable it was.

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Kate Bush - London 1978

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6 comments

  1. I was lucky enough to have seen Kate on her only tour in ’79 as a school kid, one of the best days of my life.

      1. Someone I have never seen but also find fascinating is Amanda Lear, I wish there was a post about her

      2. Look forward to that, despite claiming in a TV interview to being an only child whose parents died when she was young, someone traced her geneology and discovered that both parents were alive until relatively recently, her mother only died in 2014 in the same village in France where she has herself lived for decades and she has a younger brother! How did she keep them secret? She is remarkable

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