The individual components to this TV show promised more than was delivered. The fact Phil Lynott and Morrissey were part of the two teams taking part in this Pop Quiz, would whet any appetite, but sadly the result is as bland and anodyne as the show’s host, Mike Read.
You may have heard of Read before, he was the BBC Radio One DJ behind the banning of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s single “Relax.”
While treating his listeners to a performance of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s thumping dance single “Relax,” Read idly scanned the record sleeve and began to read the lyrics to the song, which had been steadily climbing the charts.
Then, mid-broadcast, he lifted the needle, denounced the content as “obscene” and refused to play it again. The rest of the BBC followed suit, banning the song, with its veiled reference to gay sex, from all TV and radio airplay, with the curious exception of the top 40 show.
Within a fortnight the song had rocketed to number one, where it nested for four weeks. (As if to rub the Beeb’s nose in it, a few months later “Relax” returned to the charts, reaching number two.)
“Relax” eventually reached Number One on 24th January, 1984, and was the beginning of an incredibly successful year for Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The ban made the BBC and especially Read look prissy, out-of-touch and utterly ridiculous. With this in mind, one has to question why the Beeb thought Mike Read a suitable host for their Saturday tea-time entertainment show Pop Quiz? As anything the poor man touched was automatically rendered vapid, bland and unrelentingly dull.
Poor Phil Lynott, who looks here like a doorman for some low-rent strip club, tries his best to jolly things along, but is given little to no help by his fellow team members, some hairdressing experiment from Kajagoogoo, and a dull Derek Forbes from Simple Minds.
Morrissey, meanwhile, is teamed-up with aging glam rocker, Alvin Stardust (yes, the fellow who crooned “My Coo Ca Choo”) and Kim Wilde of “Kids in America” (Whoa!) fame. At first Morrissey looks almost keen (answering his early questions correctly) before the full horror of the show dawns on him. As he later told The Face magazine:
“Pop Quiz was unbearable. I realized it was a terrible mistake the moment the cameras began to roll. … I just squirmed through the programme. I went back to my dressing room afterwards and virtually felt like breaking down, it had been so pointless. I felt I’d been gagged.”
I’m not sure Morrissey was gagged, but it is fair to say both he and Lynott were certainly under some sort of neutralizing presence that seems to emanate from Mr. Read. The only colorful thing about him is his tasteless shirt that looks like something Walt Disney puked up.
Now you know what made for popular television in Britain back in 1984.