Before Jools Holland came along, New Year’s Eve in telly was all about Scotland. Actually, that makes it sound better than it actually was. Telly was all about what English people perceived Scottish music to be about and it was awful. Auld Lang Syne, men in kilts, with names like Andy Stewart and Kenneth McKellar, belting out traditional fare from north of the border, ‘Donal’, where’s yer troosers’ and the like. Then, after Jools Holland left Squeeze, the higher-ups had what they obviously thought was a better idea: give him the New Year show, call it his annual Hootenanny and pretend every year it was live. At first, it seemed a good idea. Now, I can’t think of a programme I’d less like to watch as one year turns into another.
I have never understood either the BBC’s or the public’s love of Holland. Granted, he is a brilliant musician, although he creates virtually no new music at all. I find his staccato presentational style forced and awkward. In short, I don’t get the attraction. His one saving grace is the ‘Later…’ show, but I could give you a dozen names who could improve that show.
Granted that his Hootenanny is meant to be little more than an end of year sing-song and I suppose I have to concede that if you like hearing old songs well-played, it’s the show for you. You would not expect anything original or even cutting-edge for an audience that is likely to be three or four parts pissed. In my case, liberal amounts of alcohol do not turn something dull into something exciting.
The BBC gave us no choice at all last night. It was Madness on BBC 1, belting out tunes from their admittedly formidable back catalogue, or Holland. Where was the modern day equivalent of Clive James doing an irreverent and-of-year show, like the excellent Charlie Brooker? It’s like our national broadcaster has all but given up on NYE, replacing original programming with formulaic crowd-pleasers.
I quickly gave up on both shows last night, playing instead my own music for myself. I was very happy to do so and I am feeling happy today, even under the leaden, battleship grey skies. Messrs Stewart and McKellar was dismissed from the TV schedules when TV bosses realised they were out of date and out of time. I’m hoping that next year, the BBC will put the Hootenanny out to grass.