The Old Grey Whistle Test


Ride Captain Ride
May 24, 2006
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NE Ohio
The Old Grey Whistle Test was a BBC television music show that ran from 1971 to 1988. The program hosted many acts of the era, including the first British TV performance of Bob Marley and the Wailers as well as Billy Joel, Judas Priest, Heart and Lynyrd Skynyrd

The first host was Richard Williams, features editor of Melody Maker, the music weekly. From 1972, the program was presented by DJ Bob Harris (nicknamed "Whispering Bob Harris", due to his quiet voice and "laid back" style). He later became infamous among the younger generation for calling the New York Dolls "mock rock" and left The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1978.

Anne Nightingale took over as host in 1978 when it was felt the program was behind the times in its failure to embrace punk.

In December 1980 Nightingale faced the daunting task of presenting the show in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of John Lennon (who had himself appeared on the show in 1975). This particular episode consisted almost entirely of interviews with various people about Lennon's life and career.

In the early 1980s, Andy Kershaw, David Hepworth, Mark Ellen and Richard Skinner also took turns as presenters. The same four presenters co-presented The BBC's Television coverage of Live Aid.

In 1983, the program was moved to a live mid-evening slot. The title was changed to Whistle Test and the title credits and music were changed. The program's run ended with a live New Year's Eve special broadcast through to the early hours of New Year's Day 1988; music included "Hotel California" by The Eagles, live from 1977, and "Bat out of Hell" by Meat Loaf.

The audio was always of prime importance. Gregg Baily was the recording manager for the show on location.

Although many assumed the bands were playing live, due to technical issues and the need to ensure performances were controlled, the bands often recorded the performance on the day of shooting prior to taping, and then mimed to this "live" track. Location shoots all over the world were an essential part of the program.



Avoiding The Swan Song
Jan 29, 2010
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Derbyshire, England
Great Show my older brother used to watch the early 70's shows and that's how I got into it. Whispering Bob Harris is a legend.


Senior Member
Feb 14, 2010
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:bow: Great footage of JUDAS PRIEST !! In the very early days when Rob had long hair and wasnt hell bent for leather :D
The old grey whistle test was a great programme in its day presenting the best classic rock , unfortunately it had a late night slot and my father wouldnt let me watch it in the early 70s :mad. So it was kids tv and Top of the pops for me....thats probably why I have a fondness for 70s glam rock..
Of course when i was old enough to watch it,it was pretty good. Apart from Whispering Bob...the presenters were awful.They tended to snigger at anything metal or got the impression they didnt want these bands on the show.
Keep them classic tracks coming Truckin....
I was trying to find SCORPIONS ...on you tube when they were on O.G.W.T...cant find them...shame they were brilliant
One of my favorite performances that come to mind is......BOWIE from 1972


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