Classic TV Revisited: Juke Box Jury

Juke Box Jury The Beatles

Juke Box Jury was a long running panel show that featured assorted celebs listening to various discs and passing judgment on them. David Jacobs, Noel Edmonds and Jools Holland all compered its off-on run. It ran on BBC-1 from 1959-1990.

Ultra smooth compere David Jacobs played 45rpm discs on a juke box and a panel of assorted celebs said whether or not they liked them.Sound riveting?

Wait, there’s more.
If the majority on the panel voted a record a “hit”, compere Jacobs tinkled a bell.And for a miss he sounded a klaxon, a bit like a raspberry.

This was cutting edge television?
Look, it could get really exciting – when they slammed a record and the singer came on as surprise guest. And all this around teatime!

Hang on, what did you see on screen while the records played?
Well, nice Mr Jacobs smiling and the panel ditto.And if that got, well, boring then we looked at the studio audience, beehive hair-dos, winkle picker shoes and feet tapping out of time.

Did it last a fortnight?
Eight years, knowall. It was then revived. Twice.

So no klaxon for JBJ?
No, it was a huge hit. They were simpler times.

Who were the celebs?
A mix of industry experts and people who knew nothing.

So the experts got it right?
Hardly, pop pickers. Alan Freeman said Cliff’s one they call Living Doll “wouldn’t sell a copy”.

It made No 1 and sold a million.

Ah, JBJ boosted sales?
Did it ever. Just getting a record played was a huge coup – and being voted a miss often did its chances no harm at all.

When did the discs first spin?
In June 1959, with a panel of singers Alma Cogan and Gary Miller, DJ Pete Murray and “typical teenager” Susan Stranks.

Sue sounds familiar?
Yes, nine years later she hosted Magpie. Typical…

Any others I might know?
Well, one week in 1963 the Beatles were the panel, and in ’64 The Stones.

Juke Box Jury

Now, THEY might be worth seeing?
Ye-e-s – shame the tapes have gone.

What day was it on TV?
At first, Tuesdays, but success was so swift it moved to Saturdays.

Peak viewing?
It competed with ITV’s Boy Meets Girls – the “boy” was Marty Wilde, Kim’s dad. He’s still rockin’ in his 60s.

And those celeb guests?
How about Paul Jones of the Manfreds, actresses Susan Hampshire and Shirley Ann Field – and race ace Jackie Stewart. At least he’d know about 45 revs per minute.

Despite its strait-laced image, was there any controversy?
Well, Bunny Lewis a songsmith, and Wolf Mankowitz, a writer, attacked the records – and then bad-mouthed each other.
Then there was Lisa Gastoni. She was an actress who appeared in an off-the-shoulder low-cut dress that made her appear – gulp – starkers. Viewers galore rang in.

Did it have a memorable theme tune?
Two, in fact, but the best known was the aptly named Hit And Miss.

A hit?
Yes, It made the top 10 for the John Barry Seven, paving the way for a string of hit TV themes and Barry’s film music career. He scored Adam Faith’s hits.Oddly, Faith was on Drumbeat, the BBC pop show that ended in August 1959 to be replaced by – Juke Box Jury. What goes around, comes around.

When did it end?
First, in 1967, but it was revived twice, proving to have slipped from pop to flop.

When was this?
First, in 1979, with smooth, smarmy David Jacobs replaced by Noel Edmonds. A total contrast.John Lydon was on and rubbished it all, using some invigorating language. Exit JBJ.

The final spin?
In 1989-90, chaired by Jools Holland.