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Now established as the BBC’s longest-running serious contemporary music programme since the demise of The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1987, Later with Jools Holland began life in 1992 as a ten-part spin-off from BBC2’s daily late-night arts programme The Late Show.
The first edition of Later with Jools Holland aired on 8 October 1992 and featured The Neville Brothers, The Christians and D-Influence. Each week several bands from across the spectrum of popular music crammed into the studio and performed live.
The show began life as one strand of the arts magazine The Late Show, but outlived and outgrew it, and is still going strong decades later.
Former Squeeze keyboard player Jools Holland was a musician who had proved to be a natural presenter on Channel 4’s pioneering music show The Tube. He brought his relaxed style to Later, either accompanying the guests on boogie-woogie piano or leading everybody in a loose jam at the start of the show.
Producer Mark Cooper ensured that the programme featured a wide range of musical styles, writing “it is not intended to be rock or chart orientated, although we do hope to feature some mainstream artists”.
In 2008 Later added an extra show on Tuesday evenings, broadcast live after the recording of the main programme, which aired on Friday.
Every New Year the programme celebrates Jools’s Annual Hootenanny, which has become an institution and Later continues to bring familiar and unfamiliar sounds to its loyal audience.