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Holland, Jools (1958-)

Musician, Presenter

Main image of Holland, Jools (1958-)

Known largely to television audiences as the presenter of music programmes, it was as keyboardist with the group Squeeze between 1974 and 1980 that Jools Holland (born Julian Miles Holland in London on 24 January 1958) first came to the public's attention (although Holland left to forge a solo career, he rejoined for the period 1985 to 1989). Despite the minimal success of Jools Holland and the Millionaires, the group he formed in 1980, Holland was offered the job of presenting what was to become the major pop music series of the 1980s - The Tube (Channel 4, 1982-87) .

Presented by Holland and Paula Yates (Leslie Ash stood in for Yates in the second series), The Tube began its run in the week that Channel 4 was launched. With its mixture of live bands (refreshingly, miming was largely banned), interviews, occasional comedy turns, the relaxed presenting style of both Holland and Yates, and that extra frisson of actually being broadcast live, The Tube became one of the new channel's biggest successes, and was essential viewing for young(ish) audiences at the start of a Friday evening for the next five years.

Following the success of The Tube, Holland branched out into other areas of television, although largely remaining within the realm of music. Among the many documentaries he has presented have been Walking to New Orleans (Channel 4, tx. 25/8/1985) and Mister Roadrunner (Channel 4, tx. 6/6/1992), looking at the musical styles of New Orleans and Tennessee/Mississippi respectively; The Beatles Anthology (ITV, 1995), a six-part history of one of his own favourite groups; Beat Route (BBC, 1998-99), a look at the musical cultures of cities around the world; and Jools Holland's Piano (BBC, 2002), a two-part history of the instrument.

It may be best, however, to draw a discreet veil over Holland's hosting of two music-themed panel games. Juke Box Jury (BBC, 1989-90) and Name That Tune (Channel 5, 1997-98), unwise attempts at updating formats dating back to the 1950s, were beneath his talents.

Holland attempted to transfer his laid-back, jocular style to comedy with The Groovy Fellers (Channel 4, 1989), co-starring Rowland Rivron, and The Laughing Prisoner (Channel 4, tx. 1/1/1993), a parody of cult series The Prisoner (ITV, 1967-68) co-starring Stephen Fry. Holland co-wrote both with his co-stars, but both were only partially successful.

Holland's major contribution to television, however, began in October 1992 with the music show, Later with Jools Holland (BBC, 1992-, originally billed as The Late Show: Later). An oasis of televised musical proficiency in a desert of manufactured pop dross, the programme offers an eclectic mix of musical styles from around the world, all played live in the BBC studios by artists, both established and newcomers, who are selected for their artistic abilities and not because they are flavour-of-the-month.

The programmes also provide a platform for Holland to demonstrate that he is arguably the finest rhythm and blues/boogie woogie pianist in the country, as he often accompanies, sometimes with his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, artists appearing on the shows. The series also gave birth to the annual New Year Hootenanny (BBC, 1993-).

Holland was awarded an OBE in 2003.

John Oliver

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Later with Jools Holland (1992-)Later with Jools Holland (1992-)

Long-running, stylistically adventurous late-night live music show

Thumbnail image of Tube, The (1982-87)Tube, The (1982-87)

Hip, irreverent music show from Channel 4's early years

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Thumbnail image of Pop Music TVPop Music TV

How television jumped on the pop bandwagon

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