TFI Friday: Top 10 moments from the original show
1. That Shaun Ryder interview
In 1996, Happy Mondays and Black Grape frontman Shaun Ryder dropped the F-bomb repeatedly during his live chat with Chris Evans - despite our host offering to give the Madchester legend his own shoes if he kept it clean. Next time Shaun appeared, he sung live instead - but swore copiously during that too. As a consequence, TFI had to bow to pressure from ITC (now known as Ofcom) and switch to pre-recording the show. Shaun was also banned from appearing live on any Channel 4 programme for several years – the only person listed by name in the station’s compliance manual. F***ing oops.
2. Giving away a million quid
ITV gameshow Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was all the rage in the late 90s but after a year on-air, still nobody had won the jackpot. TFI bravely stepped into the breach with a segment titled "Someone's Going to Be a Millionaire!” in homage. Chris Evans paid out the promised £1m prize on Christmas Eve 1999 to unemployed father-of-three Ian Woodley - becoming the first British TV show to do so and beating Chris Tarrant by 11 months
3. The Spice Girls special
In 1998, when they were the biggest names on the planet and shortly before Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell left, the girl-powered quintet got their own dedicated episode. It saw them perform three songs, chat about their rivalry with Oasis, cringe at their old audition tapes, Victoria “Posh” Adams discuss her upcoming wedding to some bloke called David Beckham, Emma “Baby” Bunton reveal she had played a mugger on EastEnders - and producer Will Macdonald parade around Piccadilly Circus in a Union Jack dress.
4. Ewan McGregor chooses life
While interviewing Ewan McGregor about his new film Trainspotting - a cult classic about heroin abuse, of course - Chris Evans asked one of the best-timed comedy questions ever: “Doesn’t it worry you slightly, a little bit, that young kids may be tempted to get into… acting?” Just say no, kids.
5. Smashing the mugs
The TFI Friday mugs on Chris Evans’ desk became an object of desire and the team was bombarded with viewer requests for them. So the show produced a limited edition run of 1,000 which were offered for sale at a purposely pricey £35 a pop for one week only. The remaining stock was then smashed up live on-air by dropping a washing machine onto them from the ceiling of the studio. Fetch the dustpan and brush.
6. John Cleese-gate
This one didn’t even make it onto the screen. Chris Evans decided to spontaneously shoot a skit involving him hand-delivering a script to upcoming guest John Cleese in New York. Cue Concorde flights, Richard Branson joining Chris on-board to poach him for Virgin Radio via a contract jotted on the back of a British Airways menu, Evans missing Cleese in NY, chasing him to Paris, missing him again and returning to London. At £56k plus expenses, Chris Evans called it “the most expensive joke in the history of light entertainment television”.
7. Tex on legs
Chris Evans had long been a fan of Glaswegian band Texas and when a guest dropped out in 1997, he saw the chance to get frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri on the show. He announced her as the “most beautiful woman he’d ever met” , flirted outrageously, raved about their new album White On Blonde and is credited with reviving the group’s fortunes. Sharleen proceeded to sing a spine-tingling acapella version of Al Green’s Tired Of Being Alone and viewers fell in love too.
8. St Patrick’s Day craic
To celebrate St Patrick’s Day in 2000, the show decamped to Dublin for a special one-off episode. The team stayed in U2’s hotel The Clarence, James Nesbitt and The Corrs joined them, cheering crowds crammed into the streets outside the venue and much Guinness was drunk. Bono and The Edge also appeared as guests, supping Black Velvet cocktails and playing an acoustic set at the desk. Cheers. Hic.
9. Not mad fer it
Host Chris Evans and writer Danny Baker deemed Oasis’ third album, Be Here Now, a bit of a stinker. Despite the Manchester band being pretty untouchable in 1997, they decided to have some fun with it. Danny wrote a show-opening sketch, which saw Chris using a defibrillator to try and bring the CD back to life, before pronouncing it dead. Noel Gallagher hasn’t spoken to Chris since.
10. Geri and Kylie arm-wrestle - then snog
In 1999, the newly solo Geri Halliwell and fellow popstrel Kylie Minogue partook in an arm wrestle across Chris Evans’ desk - but with a twist. As Geri had told Chris before the show: “Have Kylie and I got something special for you.” During the grapple, the pair gradually leaned and locked lips in a kiss. An agog Chris gleefully replayed the footage several times: “As the Teletubbies say, again, again!”
Belfast Telegraph Digital