Ready, steady, ramble

The presenter wears cords; the camera stays still; the programme starts at 10pm. Martin Kelner on The White Room, Channel 4's mould-breaking pop show

"The weekend starts here," was how the pop music show Ready Steady Go used to trumpet its Friday night broadcast in the Sixties, creating the template for a host of hyperactive successors, including its bastard grandchild The Word. Now Channel 4 is seeking to break the mould. Its latest attempt to make sense of pop music on television, The White Room, starting on Saturday, is the antithesis of all that tricksy visual business that made RSG famous.

There will be no interesting crotch-level shots of bass guitarists, no sudden camera swoops into gangs of pre-pubescent groovers. Above all, wherever and whenever the weekend starts for pop fans, it is safe to assume that Saturday night at 10pm on Channel 4 is not it.

So how does the network expect to attract an audience to this mould-breaker? What might just swing it is the inspired choice as frontman of Radio One's Mark Radcliffe, who is no stranger to lost causes. One of Mark's first jobs on local radio in Manchester was presenting an indie music show, which was shunted off to summer Saturday afternoons when there was no soccer to fill the airwaves. "It was a unique combination of indie music and Lancashire cricket scores," says Mark. "A winning formula, I think you'll agree."

Now, with his late show on Radio One, Mark appears once more to be performing the improbable in luring to the network thirty- and fortysomethings and bright grammar school kids, for whom the charmlessness of some of Mark's colleagues, and the mere thought of Chris Evans's relentless cheerleading, would normally be an invitation to take their custom elsewhere.

What makes Mark's show unmissable is not just the juxtaposition of disparate items - "living legends and scruffy gets with guitars", as he says in the promo for The White Room - but the spurious train-spotter links he finds between them, a process he somehow manages to deconstruct while he is actually doing it.

One night Mark starts his show with "Let's Spend the Night Together" by the Rolling Stones followed by "Damaged Goods" by Gang of Four. "That's the 1978 debut from Gang of Four, formed at Leeds University," he says, "And in fact their early art work featured Leeds Town Hall which is where Queen started their first major tour supporting Mott the Hoople in 1973, the same year I went to see David Bowie at the Manchester Hard Rock and he kicked off the set with "Let's Spend the Night Together", which we started with tonight, which is about as tortuous a link as it's possible to compose... and, fascinatingly enough, the legendary Manchester Hard Rock venue is now the Old Trafford branch of B & Q, and there are times when you could swear the odd ghostly riff from Mick Ronson's guitar comes echoing from vinyl floor-coverings. You know, it's just past the mixer taps..." And so on.

All this is delivered at breakneck speed in a kind of Mancunian rant: "Of course, it was the height of glam, so the problem was deciding what to wear. I toyed with the idea of my mum's knee-length boots and my sister's fun-fur bomber jacket, I thought about my gran's Lurex cardigan and loads of make-up, but in the end I plumped for a pair of ill-fitting corduroys and a Shetland pullover, which strangely enough is pretty much what I'm wearing now. In fact it's pretty much all I've ever worn in my whole life - even in my school rock band. I came across a photo the other day and there were three blokes in bomber jackets, and me looking like I'd been mistakenly caught in the picture whilst collecting library fines."

Mark's self-confessed resemblance to a librarian should be perfect for a show aiming to strip the artifices of TV from the presentation of pop music. Malcolm Gerrie, editor of The White Room, also seems to have adopted the quirky music policy of Mark's radio show. The first programme includes Stevie Wonder and Skunk Anansie, described as anarchic squawkers.

As the producer of The Tube, Gerrie has a sharp eye for presenters. It is he who can probably be held responsible for inventing Paula Yates and Jools Holland, although, since his latest star has managed two years at Radio One without "getting into big shorts and asking for a big Cleethorpes cheer", there seems to be little immediate prospect of Mark's career path taking in an interview on the Big Breakfast bed with Tom Cruise.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice