Show People: Lord Reith in drainpipes: Jools Holland

JOOLS HOLLAND is 36. He lives in London - Blackheath, to be precise - with two pianos, his second partner, a child, a step-child, a healthy attitude, clean bottom, clean nose, and . . . errm . . .

Quite a lot of Jools Holland's conversation works like this - starting almost officiously informative, then straying off the straight and narrow into vaguely wacky territory before losing its sense of direction altogether. It is entertaining, endearing even, though slightly maddening when you come to transcribe it. It has got him into trouble, too - as when he used a four-letter word during a live trail for The Tube. (For younger readers, this was a rather good Friday-teatime pop programme presented by Holland and Paula Yates, in the early days of Channel 4.)

So now he pays a little more attention to what he says. Indeed, for the Saturday- night pop programme he is working on at the moment, the third series of the appealingly eclectic Later with Jools Holland, he is using cue cards for the first time: because, he says, it has a very complicated format, and because he doesn't reckon he's a very good presenter anyway - 'too relaxed'.

If Holland doesn't seem fazed by television, it's probably because he thinks of it as just a sideline: what he really is, in his own estimation, is a musician. He is still thought of as the former keyboards player with Squeeze, though his interests have moved away from the group's friendly, wordy pop. In the early Eighties, when the band temporarily split up, he started his own group, the Millionaires, losing money on the album and subsequent tour. He also started playing with Squeeze's drummer, Gilson Lavis, whom he used to introduce, for a joke, as the Jools Holland Big Band. Holland and Lavis kept gigging, gradually adding a bass, a guitarist, a horn section . . . until, incrementally, it became a genuine big band. Since 1990, this has occupied 75 per cent of his time. Two albums, The A to Z of the Piano and A World of His Own, have sold 'respectably', and the band now resides on Don't Forget Your Toothbrush (as if to pre-empt criticism, Holland points out that you can't just send the players home when they're not on tour; they have to do something).

The Big Band allows Holland to indulge his musical passions - blues and boogie-woogie. He started playing the piano at the age of eight, when his uncle taught him 'St Louis Blues'. The young Holland would pound out the same tune for hours at a time in his grandmother's front room, a few streets away from his parents; apart from brief forays to New York in the Eighties, he's always lived in south-east London, and attributes his pop success to this: 'Most musicians in bands come from suburbs of cities. They all come from Pinner or Dartford - I'm thinking of the Rolling Stones and Elton John - but never from Mayfair or Belgravia or anything.'

He enjoys this sort of theorising. His main interest, apart from old cars, is architecture - practically anything, he says, except Frank Lloyd Wright and Gaudi ('Quite impressive, but you wouldn't want to live in it'). He has a theory about the relationship between the blues, in which the central chords are fourths and fifths, and the proportions adopted by Palladio.

When he'd mastered 'St Louis Blues', he bought a record of Jimmy Yancey, Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons - 'I used to feel as if they were my three great big spiritual uncles' - and tried to play like them. Boogie-woogie, he feels, is an artificial category, but a rolling, striding bass is still his most characteristic mode.

So music occupies his time - and brings in most of his money - but the visibility comes from television. For somebody who claims he isn't very good at it, he has been highly successful.

On The Tube, his informed enthusiasm and heavy irony provided a necessary counterpoint to Paula Yates's breathy flirtatiousness. Later, he made a Channel 4 special, Walking to New Orleans, followed by a programme on the music of Memphis ( Chicago follows shortly). There was also a short-lived BBC revival of Juke Box Jury. And in the mid-Eighties he presented an American show, Sunday Night, which prefigured Later - gifted musicians, playing not miming, in the studio not on video - with the important difference that the US version didn't allow for new talent. When Jools discusses the purpose of Later, he talks about 'informing, educating and entertaining'. He's Lord Reith in drainpipes.

This seriousness - in basic intentions, though not in presentation - stands behind the series' success. Later has established itself as the best rock or pop programme on television. Musicians actually want to appear, even unpaid. The new series will feature the first live gigs in this country by the re-formed Elvis Costello and the Attractions, as well as Traffic, Otis Rush and Dr John ('one of the greatest pianists of all time').

They want to be on because, Holland says, 'they know that it's straight, and that it hasn't got funny items about fashion or they're not going to get squirted with a water pistol'. No doubt these negative virtues work in its favour, but you suspect, too, that for many musicians it has one positive factor on its side: and that is Jools Holland.

'Later with Jools Holland': 10.20pm Sat, BBC2, for seven weeks.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
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.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot