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LEFT A Lang night Jools with KD Lang who appeared on the first series


That’s a wrap! A fresh-faced Jools in the first- ever broadcast of Later, interviewing guests D-Influence

“I’d struggle to even say we had an ‘idea’ – we just knew we could use The Late Show studio during downtime” MARK COOPER, CO-CREATOR OF LATER

“We don’t want anybody to ‘win’, it’s more

about encouraging each other. But the drama of the show comes from the artists watching each other as they play. They don’t exactly create a ‘party atmosphere’; it’s not balloons and let’s all have a good time, it’s the inherent excitement of different kinds of music played brilliantly on a stage in front of your peers.” The enhancement that this communal

atmosphere lends to the show was not intricately planned ahead of Later’s debut in 1992 - but then little was. The programme was created against a backdrop of mainstream television that was already on its way to killing off ‘serious’ music shows. The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube were six feet under, whilst then-head of youth and entertainment at the BBC, Janet Street-Porter, was keen to take music under her wing. “In the Street-Porter era, music was seen as a

kind of youth TV and was on more early evening – I’m thinking of things like Dance Energy and, on the indie side, Snub,” says Cooper. “When The Whistle Test passed I think there was a moratorium on the idea of musicians being in


Getting acquainted: Sheryl Crow and PJ Harvey snuggle up in 1995

BELOW The Tube: Jools with Paula Yates on the seminal Channel 4 music programme – TV was still searching for a successor when Later began

the studio playing live. I remember shows like Big World Café, but overall there was a sense of television searching for what followed The Whistle Test and The Tube.” At the time, Cooper was responsible for

booking music acts on the Beeb’s cultural staple, The Late Show. Together with programme boss Michael Jackson – who went on to become chief exec of BBC One and Two – he hatched a plan

“Jools had kept quite a low profile since The Tube ended [in 1987]. I chatted to him about Later and he was up for it – but I could tell we were both wary” MARK COOPER, CO-CREATOR OF LATER

for a new weekly musical sister show to air on Fridays at midnight. “I’d struggle to even say we had an ‘idea’ – we

just knew we could use The Late Show studio during downtime,” explains Cooper. Other Late Show affiliates were brought on

board including director Janet Fraser-Crook who, with Cooper, celebrated her 285th episode of Later when series 41 of the programme hit BBC Two earlier this week. Cooper, Fraser-Crook and Jackson had a rough

idea that each episode could be coherently themed by genre. It didn’t last. They also believed that the face of The Tube and ex-Squeeze man Jools Holland might just make the perfect presenter, due in part to his accomplished musicianship and uncommon embrace of eclecticism. They were onto something. “Jools had kept quite a low profile since The

Tube ended [in 1987] and was just about to start his first big band,” recalls Cooper. “I chatted to him about Later and he was up for it – but I could tell we were both wary. We knew music on TV hadn’t been successful for years. Even the shows on Channel 4 tended to come and go in one series as people sought and failed to replace The Tube. Later was scheduled in at midnight after The Late Show, which in itself didn’t have a huge audience. We didn’t expect much.” Later… With Jools Holland launched in October 1992 with an interesting, if not spectacular, line-up: The Neville Brothers, The

BELOW Respecting the artist: Amy Winehouse played Later twice, in 2003 and 2006, as well as annual outing the Hootenanny in 2004


Christian Tattersfield CEO, Warner Music UK

“Later is unique. Where else will you see such an eclectic mix of genres and styles of music as well as

living legends sharing the stage with relative unknowns? Few people can rival Jools as a presenter or as a curator. His appreciation for such a diverse range of music is what really

makes it special and such a favourite among artists. “Their enthusiasm definitely

comes across for everyone watching at home - the energy of each performance just bursts through the screen. “The longevity of the show proves

that, even in an age of infinite choice and instant gratification, viewers are eager to tune in for those magic and often unexpected Later moments and it’s a testimony to the genius of Jools and his team that their patience is so frequently rewarded.”

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