In 1976 Granada Television commissioned a new music show, So It Goes, the idea being to showcase some of the new music stars from both sides of the Atlantic and give air time to the burgeoning punk rock scene as well as the new releases from the more established rock stars. Moving away from the chart focused Top Of The Pops and the more performance based Old Grey Whistle Test on the BBC, So It Goes, was a show which focused on getting an insight into the artists themselves as much as their records. Interviews with the artists featured heavily, as well as a mixture of live performances in the studio and at various venues, this was all complemented with host, Tony Wilson’s, signature charm and style.
So It Goes was a huge stepping stone in the career of Tony Wilson, sparking his interest in the music industry, which would eventually lead to the formation of Factory Records. At the time however, the show became the platform for a whole new raft of artists, notably The Sex Pistols, whose career took off after their first television exposure on So It Goes. However, they were not the only household name who made an appearance on So It Goes. The likes of John Cooper Clarke, Elvis Costello, The Stranglers, Van Morrison and Talking Heads were amongst the vast array of artists who were featured.
The production notes from the time the show was being conceived give us an insight into the interest record companies showed in getting their acts booked onto So It Goes. From Casablanca, the record company who signed Kiss, giving the show permission to film the band live at the Free Trade Hall to prog rock label Charisma Records sending in samples of three of their artists; String Driven Thing, G.T Moore and Genesis, asking for a slot.
The notes also show the mindset the production team had and what they were trying to achieve with the show. Regarding Donna Summer’s song ‘Love To Love You Baby,’ which was banned by the BBC, a So It Goes producer in notes to a colleague points out they can get some ‘supersexual’ pictures from the record company to show alongside the record. The attitude the show had was summed up here, it was going to defy the conventions of other music shows at the time.
‘There is far more moaning on the record than I intended because I had toothache when it was made’
It was not just the music which made So It Goes such a well regarded piece of television, however. The show was packed full of humour and would occasionally branch out to having non-musical guests; notably the former Batman actor Adam West, who spoofed his time as the Caped Crusader in a section of the show one week.
So It Goes was undoubtedly a unique piece of television, showing that music shows did not have to simply broadcast the biggest stars at that moment and that television could be a medium to introduce new talent, regular feature, Opportunity Rocks, where an unknown act would be given a spot is a testament to this.
Unfortunately So It Goes was cancelled after just two series, following a controversial interview between Tony Wilson and Iggy Pop, where Iggy proved too foul mouthed for the people at Granada. Despite its early demise one can not underestimate the value of So It Goes on the music scene in Britain as well as the career of Tony Wilson who following its cancellation and his interest in music sparked went on to found Factory Records and the rest is history, as they say.