The White Room

This was the Channel 4 music show that was hosted by Mark Radcliffe. This show contained no nonsense music. Bands came in to play live and that's what they did. There were no interviews, meaningless chit chat and no miming. Mark Radcliffe presented the show but did not do much talking apart from introducing the bands. All the bands sat around the studio with the audience around them. They then took it in turn to play there songs. There was a dress code for the bands and the audience that said they all had to wear black and white which gave the programme a serious look. This show did feature some quite unusual collaborations such as Ray Davies singing Waterloo Sunset with Damon Albarn and Edwyn Collins playing A Girl Like You with Bernard Butler.

Chris Cowey was the producer and this is an interview that he gave at the beginning of 1996.

New year, new series. What can we expect?

The same as before - the best bands put in a really basic environment with the minimum of frills, instruments plugged in, just going for it. We try and work with as wide a range of popular musical styles as possible to try and reflect the way most people graze on their own record collections.

'No frills' could mean 'boring', no?

When we were originally planning the show we all came to the conclusion that we were sick of music programmes that looked like they were filmed down at the school disco. If a good act is giving their all for three or four minutes you don't remember the flashing lights and wacky camera angles shooting up people's crotches. You remember the performance. That's what we aim for. It's a case of "Never mind the bollocks, here's the music".

How do you decide who's on and who isn't?

If it's good it's on. Without wanting to sound pompous we try and pay as little attention as possible to charts and styles. When you're looking for bands you've got to go with your guts, be a music fan first and a TV person second. We try and strip away all the bullshit and rely on instinct and taste, not what will impress the TV hierarchy.

A lot of people think it should be called 'The Mark Radcliffe Show'.

No, because it's 'The White Room, which just happens to be presented by Mark Radcliffe'. Presenters are always the single most difficult thing to get right because they tend to label a programme too much. We all loved Mark's radio show and as it happened he turned out to be ideal for this TV programme, but it should never reach the situation where the presenter becomes bigger than the show.

A big criticism levelled at music shows is that they never really give any descent coverage to dance music.

I have to disagree with you on that one. We had General Levy, Lippy Lou, Republica and Dreadzone on the last series. Dance is something we're not afraid of. We do it proudly and we do it well. The fact is, every self respecting music programme in the '90s has to do dance or die.

Do you think you've got this music programme lark sewn up, then?

I'd hate to think so. If we thought we'd got the mix right, that's when we'd get complacent and start making shit programmes. As soon as you think that, you're finished. And we've got a lot left in us.

The White Room was scrapped due to it's small audience. It had suffered due to Chris Evans' TFI Friday.


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