CHAN­NEL LOOK­ING NORTH ONCE AGAIN FOR THE VOICE OF YOUTH

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID BEHRENS COUNTY COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: david.behrens@jpi­me­dia.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

IT WAS not Bruce Forsyth, Jimmy Tar­buck or any other of the en­ter­tain­ment giants of the time who helped launch the in­fant Chan­nel 4 into the world – but a co­me­dian un­known to al­most ev­ery­one out­side Sh­effield.

Tony Cap­stick’s short-lived se­ries stands as a mon­u­ment to a time when, very briefly, the peo­ple at tele­vi­sion’s cut­ting edge looked to York­shire for their star tal­ent.

The an­nounce­ment of a Leeds ex­ec­u­tive to take charge of the chan­nel’s “teen strand” as it en­ters the 2020s, brought the wheel full cir­cle.

The sta­tion, which will open its new na­tional head­quar­ters in the city in the com­ing months, has poached Cana­dian Navi Lamba from the BBC, to over­see its dig­i­tal youth pro­gram­ming.

Ms Lamba, who has worked on Fleabag and Killing Eve at the cor­po­ra­tion, said she “could not wait to get started” in Leeds.

Her new boss, Karl Warner, added that her “unique voice” would take “the dig­i­tal ex­pres­sion of our con­tent to as many 16 to 34-year-olds as pos­si­ble”.

The jar­gon was dif­fer­ent when Ce­cil Korer, the chan­nel’s first head of en­ter­tain­ment, tried some­thing sim­i­lar nearly 40 years ago. Brought up in Leeds and linked pro­fes­sion­ally to the

Co­me­dian and folk singer Tony Cap­stick, once a star turn at the launch of Chan­nel 4. city with his work on the BBC’s It’s A Knock­out, which had a pro­duc­tion of­fice on Wood­house Lane, he re­turned to his home turf to find his first stars.

The one he came up with was Cap­stick, a comic and folk singer from Rother­ham who had scored an un­likely chart hit which satirised the nos­tal­gic Ho­vis bread com­mer­cials of the time.

“We’d lots of things they haven’t got to­day – rick­ets, diph­the­ria...” he in­toned to an ac­com­pa­ni­ment by the Frick­ley Carl­ton Main brass band, of Dvo­rak’s New World sym­phony.

At a time when al­ter­na­tive com­edy was break­ing through into the cul­tural main­stream, a tra­di­tional South York­shire act was an un­likely choice for a chan­nel whose re­mit was to be rad­i­cal.

But Mr Korer booked him for eight half-hours of sketches called Cap­stick Capers , in which he ap­peared in char­ac­ter as “Our kid”, a role he had honed on the York­shire work­ing men’s club cir­cuit.

The show went out at peak time on Fri­day nights, and a sec­ond se­ries was com­mis­sioned, though not shown.

Mr Korer also handed a slot to a lo­cal quiz show on York­shire TV. Count­down was his big­gest hit, and named its dig­i­tal dis­play, Count­down’s Elec­tronic Com­puter in Leeds – or CE­CIL – af­ter him. His other Chan­nel 4 stars in­cluded the Bar­ron Knights, a group of pop song par­o­dists from the 1960s, and the

Aus­tralian co­me­dian Paul Ho­gan, whom he in­tro­duced to Bri­tain.

His tastes were not al­ways in tune with the new chan­nel’s am­bi­tions. “When does a pro­gramme stop be­ing an artis­tic suc­cess in Chelsea and be­come elit­ist c*** in Barns­ley?” he won­dered at a board meet­ing. Chan­nel 4 was not yet two years old when he was re­placed.

The re­newal of its on-off af­fair with Leeds will see its com­edy and en­ter­tain­ment com­mis­sion­ers – as well as those for cur­rent af­fairs and live events – based in the city for the first time since Mr Korer’s day.

We’d lots of things they haven’t got to­day – rick­ets, diph­the­ria...

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