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Juke Box Jury (1959-67)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Juke Box Jury (1959-67)
BBC1, tx. 1/6/1959-27/12/1967; 16/6-18/8/1979; BBC2, tx. 24/9/1989-25/11/1990
black & white/colour
ProducersBill Cotton Jr
 Roger Ordish
 Sharon Ali
 David K. Smith
Devised byPeter Potter

Presenters: David Jacobs, Noel Edmonds, Jools Holland

Show full cast and credits

A panel of 'jurors' delivers its verdict on the latest pop singles.

Show full synopsis

Successfully presenting pop music on television is far harder than it might at first appear, as the ephemeral nature of the music business, especially the singles market, means that a trend-chasing television programme can quickly loose touch with its target audience. TV history is littered with the corpses of failed popular music shows, so it is surprising that a programme as inanimate as Juke Box Jury (BBC, 1959-67, 1979, 1989-90) could last for so long.

The show's format was very simple: a panel of four guests would listen to a batch of the latest pop singles and judge them a hit or a miss. The fact that the programme was performance-free meant that during a song the camera would pan around the studio audience, linger on the celebrity panel or cut back to the show's host, originally the DJ David Jacobs, to no great purpose. Despite this lack of visual interest, the show proved extremely popular, with a weekly audience peaking at around 12 million, while an appearance by the Rolling Stones as the panellists attracted 10,000 requests for tickets for the programme's recording. The most famous guests to appear on the show were The Beatles, who generated such pandemonium that the audience drowned out much of what they said. Sadly, no video recording survives of this programme.

The affable Jacobs and his catchphrase "Let's hear what the panel thinks of the next record", the programme's John Barry theme, 'Hit and Miss', the large jukebox on which the records were played and which featured in the opening and closing credits, along with the use of simple sound effects - a buzzer for a hit and a hooter for a miss - combined to create a hit show. The occasional practice whereby one of the week's featured recording artists would appear from behind the scenes could add frisson to proceedings if their record had been deemed a miss.

Juke Box Jury was revived twice; the first time fronted by Noel Edmonds (BBC, 1979) and the second by Jools Holland (BBC, 1989-90), but neither attempt recaptured the popularity of the original, if only because it initially appeared at a time before dedicated pop music radio, when any opportunity to hear the latest singles was eagerly pounced on by its youth audience.

Anthony Clark

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete edition (26:49)
Extract (5:03)
Production still
Edmonds, Noel (1948-)
Pop Music TV