The Chart Show

The Chart Show (also known as the ITV Chart Show) is a music video programme which ran in the United Kingdom on Channel 4 from April 1986 up to 2 January 1989, and again from 6 to 12 January 2003. In 1989 the show moved from Channel 4 to ITV; on a saturday morning slot from 7 January 1989 to 22 August 1998; until getting replaced by CD:UK. The show lived on as a revival by Channel 4 in 2003, and a second revival aired from 6 August 2008 to May 2009 on Chart Show TV.

The original production company was Video Visuals, and (when shown on ITV) was credited as “A Yorkshire Television Presentation” from 1993 and 1998 (prior to this, no ITV Franchisee’s logo was shown at the end).

The show was designed to compete with established pop shows such as the BBC’s Top of the Pops and was influenced by the video formats of MTV. The show was unique in that it had no presenters, instead computer-generated displays took their place in between promotional videos of artists.

The “pop-up” information snippets were represented as “windows” in a mock-up graphical user interface called HUD. In 1987 this was replaced with the more familiar display which featured a “mouse-pointer” and “icons” generated on an Amiga computer. Although commonplace nowadays, such interfaces were relatively cutting-edge at the time. The look of the icons was updated on the move to ITV on 7 January 1989, and again upon the show’s relaunch on 7 December 1991 as part of a competition prize from Amiga Computing magazine. However, this update only lasted one show and the previous 1989 icons returned the following week and lasted until 11 May 1996 when the show’s look and production was completely overhauled and was replaced with an animated text banner at the bottom of the screen.

Graphics mimicking those of a video recorder in operation were also used, and are one of the show’s most well remembered features.

The show was very important when it was first launched, being one of the few outlets for music videos on British television, in the days before the widespread takeup of satellite and cable television, and channels such as MTV Europe. Many music videos got their UK Television premieres during The Chart Show.

Shortly after launching, The Chart Show found itself being taken off air during a dispute with the Musicians’ Union over the showing of music videos on ITV & Channel 4 which lasted throughout the summer of 1986. During this time, a show called Rewind, made by the same production team, was aired. This consisted of performances from other music shows. The dispute was resolved by the end of the summer, and The Chart Show returned at the end of August.

On Channel 4, the show ran on Friday nights, mainly filling gaps between series of The Tube. After moving to ITV it ran on Saturday mornings and also had a late night repeat in some ITV regions, though the day and time of this varied over time and between regions. One such late night repeat on 31 August 1997 was interrupted to report the breaking news of Diana, Princess of Wales’ car accident. The show was so popular that it became a regular with five editions in July 1987 going out as 60 minute long “Summer Specials”. The last regular edition to air on Channel 4 was on 30 September 1988. The final episode on Channel 4 was a Review of 1988 special on 2 January 1989; the first edition on ITV aired 5 days later. The show was renamed “The ITV Chart Show” that September after ITV launched its new corporate identity. The name reverted to The Chart Show on 22 October 1994.

Earlier Channel 4 editions were 45 minutes long, and later ones were 60 minutes, but were split into two 30 minute segments before moving to the 60 minute format in 1988. However, some later editions were shortened due to ITV buying rights to Formula One motor racing in 1997.

The last edition was shown on 22 August 1998, after being axed in favour of a live, performance based show, CD:UK, which began the following week. The show featured various messages from viewers saying goodbye to the show and how upset they were that the show was finishing. There were also messages from artists, including Mel B and Suggs.

The first video on The Chart Show was “What You Need” by INXS. The Chart Show mistakenly mentioned on the final show that Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love was the first artist to appear on The Chart Show. The video clip of Robert Palmer with the original graphics on, shown on the last episode, was taken from the 4th episode, rather than the first, as revealed by the date shown in the H.U.D.

In the show’s later days, the programme was broadcast “live”, with all the elements of the show programmed into a computer and laid back to tape, the song title graphics and info banners being added live as the show was broadcast. This fact was played up over the first few months of the show being made this way, with a “Live” graphic appearing at the beginning of each part, in addition to the interactive Battle of the Bands segment. Both of these were dropped after a minor revamp in 1997, although live phone-in competitions continued to appear occasionally until the end of the show’s run.

Confusion often arose from the chart used on the show, as they initially used the chart compiled by MRIB (which was used at the time by commercial radio, and was adopted by NME in 1988) and later on compiled their own chart, as opposed to using the “official” Gallup/CIN chart used by BBC Radio 1, which in addition to the show’s initial Friday and later Saturday airdate (therefore not taking account of the full week’s sales) meant that the chart shown was different, sometimes slightly, other times more significantly, from that broadcast by Radio 1. Indeed, there were many occasions when the single shown to be Number One by The Chart Show differed from the official number one- including on the show’s very first top 10 countdown in May 1987.

Many singles featured in the charts had no music videos produced for them. Most of these songs were in the specialist charts, though they occasionally appeared in the Top Ten.

In the early years, the problem was solved by showing a photo of the artist over a short excerpt from the song. As the show progressed, they had produced many various computer generated sequences to accompany the audio clips. These included onscreen games of pong, close ups of turntables playing, cars being crushed, silhouettes of people dancing, lava lamps amongst other stock footage. Due to the lack of an actual music video, the songs in question were never played in full.

There were exceptions to this; the first being Ride on Time by Black Box. The music video wasn’t completed for several months after the song was released. In its first week at number one on the Top Ten, a photo of Catherine Quinol, the band’s vocalist, was shown over a short excerpt from the single. However, as it was still number one the following week, a performance that was filmed for then Saturday morning show Ghost Train was shown, which had Catherine and an unknown organist performing on a stage.

Excluding 1994, the show would have an ‘end-of-year’ episode that featured ‘best’ and ‘worst’ awards as well as countdowns of the best-selling songs of the year.


Best New Act

  • 1986 – The Housemartins – Happy Hour
  • 1987 – Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Little Mystery
  • 1988 – The Pasadenas – Tribute (Right On)
  • 1989 – The Beautiful South – You Keep It All In

Best Solo Artist

  • 1988 – Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
  • 1989 – Lisa Stansfield – All Around The World

Best Video Of The Year

  • 1986 – Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
  • 1987 – New Order – True Faith
  • 1988 – Siouxsie and the Banshees – Peek-A-Boo
  • 1989 – Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

Best Foreign Video

  • 1986 – Prince – Kiss
  • 1987 – Crowded House – Don’t Dream Its Over
  • 1988 – Toni Childs – Don’t Walk Away
  • 1989 – Malcolm McLaren – Waltz Darling

Worst Video of The Year

Funniest Video of the Year

  • 1988 – “Weird Al” Yankovic – Fat
  • 1989 – Bananarama with French and Saunders – Help

Dance Chart

  • 1986 – Cameo – Word Up
  • 1987 – Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
  • 1988 – Yazz and the Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up
  • 1989 – A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray

Indie Chart

  • 1986 – The Smiths – Panic
  • 1987 – M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume
  • 1988 – Yazz and the Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up
  • 1989 – Inspiral Carpets – Joe

Heavy Metal/Rock Chart

  • 1986 – Bon Jovi – You Give Love A Bad Name
  • 1987 – Heart – Alone
  • 1988 – Iron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness
  • 1989 – Metallica – One

Network Album Chart

  • 1986 – Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
  • 1987 – U2 – Joshua Tree

Network Singles/The Top Ten/Top Twenty

  • 1986 – Nick Berry – Every Loser Wins
  • 1987 – Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
  • 1988 – Womack & Womack – Teardrops
  • 1989 – Black Box – Ride On Time

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