1 9 7 6 – 1 9 7 7 (UK)
27 x episodes
In 1975, Granada Television asked a 25-year-old journalist named Tony Wilson – a reporter for its evening magazine Granada Reports – to put together an idea for a new music programme.
Wilson didn’t have the confidence in the quality of the music around at the time to make it a straight musical offering so he brought in Australian Clive James to add some wry monologues and fiddled around with bits of cartoon, odd video clips and some adult puppetry.
If the music didn’t really stand up, Wilson felt, they could have a bit of a laugh with it.
By the time of the second series, a year later, punk was in its prime and James was no longer required as there was much more for So It Goes to get its teeth into.
That first series featured such artists as Thin Lizzy, The Chieftains, Tom Waits, Graham Parker & the Rumour and KISS, but the significant booking – in the final programme of the series – was The Sex Pistols, who made their television debut performing Anarchy In The UK.
Wilson hosted the show from a swivel chair in front of a bank of television monitors, his velvet voice brimming with an enthusiasm for the spiky new music that was somewhat out of place with his trendy college lecturer fashions – all leather jacket, denim shirts and flares.
The first series was seen late on Saturday night in Granadaland and a few other ITV regions, with London catching up a day later.
For the second series, the pattern was reversed. London went for Saturday with Granada and others switching to Sunday, but neither series was fully networked.
Even fewer viewers caught the spin-off series, So It Goes Concert, that Granada broadcast only to its own region in the spring of 1977, but punk fans would not have been interested in a line-up that offered the likes of Andy Fairweather Low, Sad Café and Asleep At The Wheel.
So It Goes stands out in British broadcasting history as the new wave’s first champion.
Tony Wilson went on to run Factory Records – the label that launched Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays – and open a club in Manchester called the Haçienda, which was instrumental in defining the “Madchester” scene, all the while continuing his work as a serious broadcaster.
Wilson subsequently developed renal cancer and underwent emergency surgery to remove one of his kidneys in early 2007. Despite the surgery, the cancer progressed, and a course of chemotherapy was ineffective. He died of a heart attack in Manchester’s Christie Hospital on 10 August 2007, aged 57.