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Later with Jools Holland (1992-)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Later with Jools Holland (1992-)
BBC, tx. 16/10/1992 - present
25 series of 10 episodes apiece (ongoing) plus numerous specials, colour
Production CompanyBBC Television
DirectorJanet Fraser-Crook
ProducersMark Cooper
 Alison Howe

Presenter: Jools Holland

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Long-running, adventurous late-night live music programme, hosted by the irrepressible presenter-pianist.

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Now established as the BBC's longest-running serious contemporary music programme since the demise of The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1987, Later with Jools Holland began life in 1992 as a ten-part spin-off from BBC2's daily late-night arts programme The Late Show (1989-95). It gained its own series the following year, and has remained a fixture in the schedules ever since, outliving its parent by over a decade.

Despite the number of editions now running into triple figures, the original formula remains intact. Each programme, typically running 45-60 minutes, features around five sets, generally representing a mix of styles and genres, solo performers and larger ensembles, established names and relative newcomers. The programme typically opens with a somewhat chaotic jam session featuring most if not all of the evening's line-up, the camera swooping from performer to performer, all of whom are arranged in various parts of the studio. Presenter Jools Holland strolls from one to the other to introduce each act in his deceptively laid-back style, and also contributes the piano part to at least one of the musical numbers.

It was the perfect vehicle for him after a few years in the post-Tube wilderness (he even hosted a BBC revival of Juke Box Jury between 1989-90), and he neatly captured his deliberately low-key approach in a 1997 Radio Times interview: "Flashing lights and excitement isn't really natural for me, and because we have all sorts - dance, contemporary, pop, folk music, jazz - the plainer the background the better. There's no one we can't use. It wouldn't seem odd to have Duke Ellington in one corner and Oasis in the other. I am the carpet on which they lie, sort of thing, or the ambient glue that holds it together. I'm a conduit for the music rather than an interviewer, and a lot of the music does speak for itself." That said, each edition usually does feature an extended interview with one or more of the performers, often broken up with an archive recording, screened for their delectation or embarrassment.

There have also been regular spin-offs, one of which has dominated BBC2's New Year's Eve coverage since 1993 in the form of Jools' Annual Hootenanny, essentially an expanded edition of the main programme. There have also been spin-off compilations under the banner A Little Later..., usually devoted to a single performer or style.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
1992: Inspiral Carpets - 'Bitches Brew' (3:50)
1994: Portishead - 'Glory Box' (4:42)
1995: PJ Harvey - 'Down By The Water' (3:54)
1997: Roni Size and Reprazent - 'Brown Paper Bag' (4:49)
1999: Robert Palmer / David Grant / Jools Holland - 'Twenty Million Things' (3:06)
Interview with Marianne Faithfull (3:59)
Opening jam session (1:15)
Holland, Jools (1958-)
Pop Music TV