Merseyside bands under the spotlight in second series of Scouse Pop.

Posted on 5th September 2016

Frankie Goes to Hollywood will be among the iconic bands interviewed by a University of Chester academic, for the second series of a television programme celebrating the eighties music scene in Liverpool.   

Left to right: Producer Neil Duffin, Frank Maudsley (from A Flock of Seagulls) and Paul Skillen.
Left to right: Producer Neil Duffin, Frank Maudsley (from A Flock of Seagulls) and Paul Skillen.

Scouse Pop has been held in high regard since the first series aired on Liverpool Bay TV in July 2015. The TV series will also be accompanied by a book to be released in 2017.

Dr Paul Skillen, Programme Leader for Education Studies, will be interviewing more of the decade’s leading musicians for series two. These also include Space and A Flock of Seagulls. He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed filming the shows with such iconic bands. Each show has been memorable in different ways.”

Paul’s interest in ‘Scouse Pop’ stemmed from his time at university in Liverpool in the late 1970s where he wrote articles for Merseysound – a fanzine about the local bands in Liverpool at the time. He said: “The rich diversity and creativity of youth culture in Liverpool during the eighties has not been replicated anywhere else in the world. Liverpool remains unique as a musical city that has created so many successful bands, all of whom are unique in their sound and image.”

Neil Duffin, producer of Scouse Pop, said: “It was a pleasure to work with Paul on this breath-taking series. It encapsulates the musical legacy forged in Merseyside in the 1980s and the music that defined a generation. The attention to detail and research for the shows is excellent. It is informative, interesting and entertaining, all at the same time.”

The format for each episode of Scouse Pop consists of four performances recorded live and interviews with the guests. Paul has particularly enjoyed learning more about the creative processes and personal lives of individuals through these interviews. He said: “As the series has developed, the format of the show has become really interesting because all of the bands have had the similar struggle to succeed, international success, break-ups and frustration, and finally maturity and renewal. It can be an emotional rollercoaster at times. All of the guests I have interviewed have demonstrated great Scouse wit and resilience.”

Paul is looking forward to interviewing China Crisis for an upcoming episode and discovering more about their creative processes. He said: “In their early days their music was different from other bands. It was more of a feeling that took the listener over and set a mood.”

He added: “I am trying to interview as many people as possible who were instrumental in producing the music that defined my generation and influenced the other bands that followed them. However I have to limit the show to more well-known bands to sustain an audience due to the populist nature of TV. I cannot reveal who is on next but there are more bands in the book that have not yet appeared on the TV show.”

Other people that Paul would like to interview include Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit and Paul Simpson of the Wild Swans who has also contributed to the book.

The new series will also feature a special episode from the University of Liverpool’s Popular Music archive, which Paul describes as “a treasure trove of artefacts donated by individuals”. The archive is host to a selection of photos, magazines, posters, records and tapes, and occasionally opened to the public. Paul explained: “I thought that the archive would be perfect to invite journalists, DJs, managers, musicians and fans to and recount their own memories of the music and the impact it had on their lives.”

Paul said: “The success of the first show took me a little by surprise. Getting hundreds of comments on social media was an encouraging acknowledgement of the show’s appeal. The quality and calibre of the bands is a big draw and the opportunity to see them in full voice some 30 years after their initial success also draws in the audience.”

He added: “I think people of a certain age thought that their youth in Liverpool was different from other cities. For a while Liverpool was the creative hub of the UK. People who were there at the time knew this was a special place and I think the series acknowledges this and confirms the appreciation of those creative days in the 1980s when music was the medium which defined our lives.”

The second series of Scouse Pop begins on September 7th and will be aired on Wednesday evenings on Bay TV (Freeview 8, Virgin 159). All previous episodes are also available on YouTube.