Black Country Bugle
Celebration hits the high notes
On October 8, 1992, BBC2 brought us the first edition of a new music show, Later with Jools Holland. Fronted by the pianist and former Squeeze member, who had made his first foray into presenting on Channel 4's influential The Tube, it featured performances by the Neville Brothers, the Christians, Nu Colours and D'influence. Originally conceived as a spin-off from the arts programme The Late Show, the idea was to get a diverse group of musicians, from living legends to up-and-coming artists, in a room and let them play live. It was a simple format, but it proved to be very enduring as it's now been on air for 30 years. Although that would suggest that Later… isn't broken and therefore doesn't need fixing, there have been a few changes over the years. In 2008, the show introduced Later Live, a 30-minute edition which would be broadcast live on Tuesdays, followed by a longer, prerecorded episode on Fridays. In 2019, it was decided that Jools needed a weekly guest host, while the following year, the pandemic forced a bigger change on the show. Unable to gather musicians together in a studio, let alone have a live audience, Jools instead began introducing guests by video link and inviting them to pick their favourite moments from the show's impressive archives. As restrictions began to lift, Later began to get back to something resembling normal, and for its 30th birthday it was even able to get out of the studio and in front of a packed audience. The presenter is definitely in the mood for a party. Jools says: "It's unbelievable that this year sees my show reach its 30th birthday. “It's a testament to the great power of music that we are still going strong, and are now the longest-running international music show on earth. I'm delighted and honoured that we're going to celebrate this monumental milestone with a special one-off event in the fabulous Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, the scene of so many legendary musical moments.” In keeping with the Later spirit, Jools’ 30th Birthday Bash (Saturday, BBC2, 9pm) features an eclectic mix of artists who have at least one thing in common – they've all appeared on the show over the years. They are Robert Plant, First Aid Kit, Michael Kiwanuka, Richard Hawley, Seasick Steve, Benjamin Clementine, Martin and Eliza Carthy, Gogol Bordello, Poppy Ajudha, Imelda May, The Joy and Celeste.