It’s like the ’90s never went away: the decade’s quintessential chat show TFI Friday has returned. Host Chris Evans is back, and he’s bringing a shedload of his old music pals for the jaunt, too. Blur, Liam Gallagher and Roger Daltrey will all be there, as will Stone Roses and Primal Scream bassist Mani, Lightning Seeds’ singer Ian Broudie, former Oasis drummer Zak Starkey, and new kids on the block Rudimental and Years & Years – and that’s all in week one.
Fittingly, for the revival of a sacred cow, it’s a line-up that’s rooted firmly in nostalgia – but it’s also a timely reminder, too, of a TV show which served as a regular mainstream showcase for some of the planet’s most exciting popstars. Can you imagine Fat White Family or Wolf Alice popping into The One Show now? Us neither – but in the 90s, you could wager on seeing everyone from Bjork to Bowie, Noel to Courtney Love and the Manics to Pulp on the set of TFI Friday. Here, then, is 10 of the show’s most memorable music guests, from mad interviews to amazing live performances…
Inviting the potty-mouthed Shaun Ryder to pop into your pre-watershed TV show just once is a bit devil-may-care; doing it twice is just careless. And so the Happy Mondays and Black Grape man created headaches a-plenty for Evans during two of his appearances on TFI Friday: first, in an interview, Evans told viewers that Ryder “had promised to do his best” and keep his language clean, and even promised to give him a pair of shoes if he avoided cussing. Ryder responded by dropping his first F-bomb roughly 11 seconds later. Later, he upped the ante even further with a spectacularly foul-mouthed performance of The Sex Pistols’ ‘Pretty Vacant’.
Manic Street Preachers
Evans’ interviews with his celebrity bigwig mates might have grabbed the attention and, occasionally, sparked the public outrage, but some of TFI Friday’s most memorable moments came courtesy of its musical performances. And while you could always rely on the great and the good of pop stopping by to flog their latest single, there was also scope for some rarer treats, too: here are the Manic Street Preachers, first performing their anthem-for-the-ages ‘A Design For Life’ in April 1996, and then cropping up again in December of the same year, too, to showcase their so-cheesy-it’s-great cover of Wham!”s Yuletide favourite ‘Last Christmas’. Keep an eye out for daytime TV stalwarts Richard and Judy at around the 4.15 minute mark, nodding sagely in approval at James Dean Bradfield.
“I just came from Sweden, and last night I lost my mind a little bit. Took off my shirt – it happens once in a while – but it was a feminist statement and I had all these Swedish girls onstage and I made them take off their shirts too.” Less than a minute in, and Hole frontwoman Courtney Love proves why there’s no-one who’s better value in an interview than her – she goes on to talk about her past as a stripper, why she’s an Anglophile, the plaudits of English football and Evans’ capitalist greed.
Another treat, now, as Jarvis and co use their slot on TFI Friday to dust off their four-year-old single ‘Babies’. A fine nod to their past.
Australia’s pop princess Kylie made more than one appearance on TFI Friday, and while the most memorable may have involved her having an arm-wrestle with Geri Halliwell (and a brief kiss, too), this may be one of her best: watch her squirm and giggle uncomfortably when Evans urges her to recite the lyrics from her classic single ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ in the style of a Shakespearian thesp. The same year, and at the behest of old pal Nick Cave, she’d recited the track’s lyrics at the Poetry Olympics at the Royal Albert Hall, too.
Even then, you could tell they were destined for Godlike greatness: with Britpop in full swing, here come Suede with the catchy goodness of ‘Beautiful Ones’ – bereft of Bernard Butler, but still blessed with some of the best indie pop-songs of the decade.
Britain’s mouthiest rock star pops by Evans’ house for an extended chat. What’s not to love?
It’s tempting, now, to look at the musical guests on TFI Friday and deem it was a bit too blokey, a bit too Britpop back-slappy. But some of pop’s more interesting figures sat on the sofa, too: here, for example, is the wonderful Bjork. “You’re not going to get angry tonight, are you?” asks Evans, referencing her recent dust-up with an invasive journalist. And then they sup on champagne and oysters together, too.
And here to prove the previous points are one of the 90s biggest phenomenons, the Spice Girls, for a special, hour-long episode, as they discuss their rivalry with Oasis, Posh Spice’s marriage, Baby’s brief cameo as a mugger on Eastenders and much more besides.
And we finish with an appearance from a bona-fide legend, the one and only David Bowie, who graces the studio audience with his presence. Watch as he’s measured against a wall, tells a bonkers anecdote about getting gastroenteritis after eating “monkey breast and parrot beak”, sports an alarmingly bright yellow t-shirt, performs his song ‘Survival’ and is just genuinely amazing as only David Bowie can be.