Home TV by Decade TV Shows - 1980s Club X

Club X

1 9 8 9 (UK)
23 x 90 minute episodes

This live 90-minute late-night magazine programme with a cultural/arts agenda from Channel 4 was aimed at a youthful audience.

Edited by former NME journalist Charlie Parsons, who brought with him much of the rough-and-ready feel and visual style of the topical youth magazine Network 7 (1987), on which he had been a producer, it was very much in the tradition of the anarchic late-night offerings of Channel 4’s earlier years, such as Whatever You Want (1982), a tradition which later coalesced in The Word (1990).

Deliberately courting controversy, it made headlines as much for its chaotic presentation as for its content. The first edition was a disaster: under-rehearsed, badly lit and with faulty sound. The introduction of more pre-recorded, independently produced segments to break up the live base of the programme helped it to settle down a little, and regular providers of Channel 4 arts programming, such as After Image, supplied much of the content.

Probably the most memorable of the separately supplied elements was the regular ‘Buygones’ segment, produced and narrated by idiosyncratic TV critic Victor Lewis-Smith, which took a comic look at products from the past, including old television logos, and was frequently in trouble on grounds of taste.

The live elements included discussions, bands, modern dance, live theatre and artistic “happenings”. The ethos of the show was to make art instead of reporting on and reviewing art (like the BBC’s Late Show did). Each week was themed around an avant-garde art movement – so, for instance, at the show’s futurist dinner party, a waiter poured water over Paul Morley, who, not unreasonably, punched him and walked out.

Another week, naked women writhed in blue paint in homage to Yves Klein’s 1960 performance art piece ‘Anthropometry’. This was part of a programme with body art as its theme; other themes included prison and British national identity.

The main presenters were Murray Boland, Martine Attille and the incomparable Fou Fou L. Hunter – a version of Australian performance artist Leigh Bowery dressed as a green fairy, –  who personified the show’s generally outrageous character. Unfortunately, Hunter died midway through the show’s run of 23 episodes.

Martina Attille
Murray Boland
Joel Colman
Fou Fou L. Hunter
Regina Fong
Victor Lewis-Smith