The no-frills cable show captured 80s and 90s bands at their most bonkers – from Napalm Death’s growling mayhem to New Order calling U2’s singer ‘that bongo guy’. Co-founder Pete Fowler explains why nothing else has come close
British music television may be synonymous with one particular boogie-woogie man, but years before Later With… first broadcast in 1992, the BBC aired an altogether different kind of show. Snub TV was a lo-fi, DIY programme, one that was all fuzzy grit to the studio gleam that would soon become the norm.
Snub TV was created by Pete “Pinko” Fowler and Brenda Kelly, who met working at Rough Trade records. Kelly was a budding music journalist and Fowler was a cameraman filming live gigs and promos for Rough Trade bands such as the Smiths and the Go-Betweens, before moving on to video work at Southern Studios. The pair combined their talents for a new cable show in the US put together by anglophile Fran Duffy, which first aired 30 years ago, in 1987. Snub TV was shot in the UK for about £700 per episode, edited at ITN and Fed-Exed to the US each week, where it ran for 14 episodes. It featured artists such as My Bloody Valentine, the JAMMS (later KLF) and Björk (in her first TV appearance, with the Sugarcubes). Britain took note, and it was soon acquired by Janet Street-Porter, then head of youth television at the BBC, where it ran for three seasons from 1989 until its demise in 1991.