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Christian looks back at The Word – 25 years after first broadcast



Mancunian broadcaster Terry Christian said he initially turned down the chance to audition for The Word – as the show celebrates 25 years of its first appearance on Channel 4.

Christian also said he insisted on featuring more black musicians on the show because ‘media industries were still so subconsciously racist’ at the time.

Christian – writing in Broadcast – said he eventually took the job in the hope it might help him become ‘the next John Peel’.

‘When I got a call inviting me to audition for an as-yet-unnamed youth TV show back in November 1989, I initially turned it down,’ he said.

‘When I was offered the presenter role, I was under the impression it would be a little programme tucked away at 6pm on a Friday night, which might help me get that job as the next John Peel.’

Christian said he had ‘no desire to work in TV’ after eight years in local radio in Manchester and writing stints for the Manchester Evening News.

‘My newspaper column was called The Word, hence my rather self-interested suggestion that we should call the show that.

‘It was a show on which I was able to convince the team that each week we should feature at least one black artist. This came from the area of inner-city Manchester where I grew up – I’d see mates of Jamaican descent excitedly calling family members in from the kitchen whenever anyone black appeared on TV.

‘It wasn’t for politically correct reasons, but because the music demanded it and media industries were still so subconsciously racist.’

The show broke local bands such as Oasis and brought huge international acts such as Nirvana, Snoop Doggy Dogg and L7 to UK TV audiences for the first time.

It was eventually cancelled in 1995 after 104 episodes, despite Christian claiming that viewing figures were still increasing.

‘The Word made TV history and was, and still is, unique,’ he said. ‘As for me, so far I haven’t managed to become the next John Peel, but I’m still hoping.’

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