The Oxford Road Show

By Geraldine

In 1984 I found out that you could get in at the BBC, for free, to be in the audience of The Oxford Road Show. As an 18 year old, who had barely been out of Ashton, the prospect of this was too exciting for words. I ended up going to several shows, some on Saturday mornings after having applied for free tickets, and some on Friday evenings, where even without tickets they would let a few extra people in if you were outside.

Seeing Peter Powell in real life, not to mention getting winked at by Midge Ure and other stars was amazing. The clip below of The Smiths singing “What Difference Does It Make” may feature me but I can’t spot myself. These shows were fabulous fun and had a great atmosphere that would be hard to get at an ordinary show.

The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make

Thanks to for the pictures of the ticket.

Urs – Here’s an article I’ve scanned in from City Life Jan-Feb 1084 (I think Issue 4):


“The first shows in 1980 betrayed the influence of the seminal Something Else…”


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  1. I can’t believe I never went to the Oxford Road Show. I remember Steve and Paul from my English class talking about how they were going down to see The Smiths at the BBC after school, and I rushed home to watch it on the telly! It never occurred to me that I could go along too; they wouldn’t have wanted me to go along with them of course.
    It’s weird that nobody seemed to notice or care that The Smiths were miming to their own record!

  2. Bizarrely, I used to go on a Saturday morning; the biggest thrill for me seeing Duran Duran performing Planet earth and PP rollerskating past me down the ground floor corridor – even stranger, just 6 years later I got a job there and worked as a photographer at eh Beeb for the next 8 years before going freelance – my office (studio/darkroom) overlooked the O.B. yard where the acts used to perform.

    • Geraldine

      Hi Andrew, It was an exciting time wasn’t it. I often wonder if teenagers today find things as atmospheric as I did then. I suspect many of them don’t though, as when I was teaching I used to ask my students which songs reminded them of starting school, going on trips etc and ” I don’t know” was their answer to everything.
      All the songs that I heard at the Oxford Road Show remind me of so many things… Perhaps it was just a particularly atmospheric time!

  3. Paul Mallett

    My brother, Timmy, (yes, him!), invited my wife and I down to the studio to watch the very last ORS ’85 show being performed, then on to the end of show party! What a gig! I remember seeing China Crisis, the Thompson Twins, the Dream Academy (“Life in a Northern Town”), and Bronski Beat. Got to meet the guys from Bronski Beat at the party afterwards, but not Jimmy Somerville, unfortunately.
    I remember at the party with the disco noise at full whack, Timmy shouted in my ear, “Would you like me to introduce you to Midge Ure?” (who was standing about 3′ away with his back to us). “NO!” I shouted back, “I haven’t a clue what he sings!!” (er…Live Aid, anyone?!)
    But then there was a really mad race back to Timmy’s pad in Didsbury to watch the show on TV. I remember Bronski Beat singing right through the final credits: terrific stuff! And a final question: PLEASE who did the theme music for the show?? I heard it was YELLO, but am unsure on that.

  4. Stephen

    I went a few times saw the smith did used to have this charming man signed but not anymore meet ultravox and Ronny I think she was called it was fab

  5. Joy Monks

    The theme tune was The Race by Yellow – I know !! I worked on the show. Great fun to work on with lots of great bands.

  6. David Keetley

    I was 16 I went 1981 and seen Duran Duran sing ‘My Own Way’
    We got warned if you see a camera coming towards you.. Jump out of the way.. They will run you over

  7. Phil Lees

    Went to ORS when Roman Holliday, the Smiths, Dead or Alive were on. It was the week before Duran Duran were on. Can’t remember if it was ’83 or ’84.

    Little did I know that my (now) wife would be there at the very same time.

    I got entry via a friend who was the nephew of Peter Heyward (Then Director of A Question of Sport)

    My wife (to be) got entry through her step-dad’s brother in law who was a cameraman at the BBC.

    If anybody has access to footage of that night, I would really appreciate seeing it.

    Great memories!

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