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Rapido (1988-92)

Main image of Rapido (1988-92)
B De C Videomusic for BBC1/2, tx. 20/10/1988-25/3/1992
90 x 30 min editions in 6 series, colour
DirectorsBernard Faroux
 Pascal Mercier
 Peter Stuart
Series EditorJanet Street-Porter
Title DesignJean-Baptiste Mondino

Presenter: Antoine De Caunes; Narrator: Lisa I'Anson

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Despatches from the world of rock and pop, introduced by the irrepressible Antoine de Caunes.

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Remembered as one of the highlights of BBC2's wildly uneven late-'80s/early-'90s youth slot, DEF II (1988-94), Rapido had its origins on French television, where it was spotted by youth TV guru Janet Street-Porter, then newly installed as the BBC's Head of Youth and Entertainment Features. She was sufficiently impressed to commission a British version, complete with original host Antoine de Caunes. It was the first British exposure for the immaculately dressed presenter, who brought with him a flirtatious Gallic charm, a flip, slightly smug sense of humour and an appropriately rapid delivery - in an accent so excessively French that many viewers simply refused to believe that he really was French. Back at home, though, de Caunes was already a supremely hip figure, with a reputation as a mischievous prankster thanks to a regular spot on cult early evening show Nulle Part Ailleurs, and an association with rock TV dating back to the early 1980s.

Rapido got its first outing in a Saturday late-night slot on BBC1 before moving to DEF II's eclectic early Wednesday evening slot, where it initially found itself sandwiched between Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and The Rough Guide to Europe (1988-89). Mysteriously, the third series saw it moved back to Saturday, this time in an early evening BBC2 slot, but it was back under the DEF II umbrella for the remainder of its run.

Misty hindsight has led some to remember Rapido as primarily an indie-based show, perhaps eliding it with DEF II stablemate Snub TV (1989-91). In fact, Rapido's programme was often surprisingly mainstream, with ageing stars like Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel and Eric Clapton at least as common as more of-the-moment acts like Nirvana or The Stone Roses. Diversity was enhanced by features on such subjects as Arab music and the Belgian rock scene. At times the series seemed to try a little too hard to please everyone - one edition encompassed neo-soul singer Terence Trent D'Arby, Phil Collins and The Pixies. But it was saved from incoherence by de Caunes' animated and highly entertaining links and by a hip, witty visual identity courtesy of French designer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who would subsequently direct Madonna's Justify My Love video.

Rapido came to a close in March 1992, after which de Caunes (accompanied by director Peter Stuart) decamped to Channel 4 to present the notoriously scatological magazine show Eurotrash (1993-).

Mark Duguid

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Street-Porter, Janet (1946-)
Pop Music TV