|Presented by||Chris Evans (Series 1-5)
Guest Presenters (Series 6)
|Theme music composer||Ron Grainer|
|Opening theme||Theme from Man in a Suitcase|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||188|
|Running time||60mins (inc. adverts)|
|Production company(s)||Ginger Productions|
|Original channel||Channel 4|
|Original run||9 February 1996– 22 December 2000|
|Related shows||OFI Sunday|
TFI Friday was an entertainment show broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2000. The show was produced by Ginger Productions, written by Danny Baker and hosted by Chris Evans, for the first 5 series. The final series was hosted by a number of guest presenters. It was broadcast on Fridays at 6pm from 9 February 1996 to 22 December 2000, with a repeat later that night. The title officially stood for "Thank Four It's Friday", but was widely understood to mean "Thank Fuck It's Friday" and was a reference to the popular phrase "Thank God it's Friday". The show's theme tune was Ron Grainer's theme from Man in a Suitcase, in keeping with Evans's frequent use of 1960s television themes in his work.
Inspiration from/for other shows
During November and December 1999, the show included a segment titled "Someone's Going to Be a Millionaire!", inspired by the ITV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (which would not have its first million pound winner until November 2000). TFI Friday paid out the promised £1 million jackpot on 24 December 1999, becoming the first British TV show to do so. Although the winner was unemployed, while deciding to boast about this, it did not stop the show from becoming one of Britain's breakthrough TV programmes, in which after it ended, inspired a genre of Friday night entertainment shows to fill the void, which however never managed to emulate the success of TFI Friday. The show also was known for hosting many British rock bands from the "Britrock" stable at the time, including being able to successfully invite American bands onto the show while touring in the country.
The show regularly featured live music, mostly of the then-popular Britpop school. A snippet of "The Riverboat Song" by Ocean Colour Scene, a band particularly championed by Evans (and the very first band to play on the show, with the same song), was used as an introduction to guests, as they walked the length of a walkway up into the "bar" to be interviewed by the host.
Viewers repeatedly asked if they could have the TFI Friday Mug (or one like it) that graced Evans table every week so the production company created a limited run of 1,000 mugs which were offered for sale at a prohibitive price and for a limited period of time, after which, the remaining stock was destroyed live on air when it was dropped from the roof of the television studio.
The show attracted controversy when Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder said "fuck" several times. Following the first interview on the show in which he had used the word, he was not allowed to be interviewed live, then during a Stars in Their Eyes skit, Ryder performed (as Johnny Rotten) the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant". The section was transmitted live, as it was not an interview. Ryder shouted "fuck" several times. Subsequently, Ryder has been barred from appearing live on any Channel 4 programme – he is the only person listed by name in the Channel 4 transmission guidebook. Ewan McGregor also used the offensive word on the show. In the wake of Ryder's antics, TFI Friday was then forced to be pre-recorded.
The show gained more notoriety when as part of a competition, two children were forced to go head to head in a stare-out contest to win their parents a car. After the competition was won, the boy who had lost then started to cry, which caused the tabloids to pounce on the show believing it to be shameless. The next edition showed the boy with the consolation prize of an assortment of toys, an apparent attempt to mitigate controversy, but which was followed by another contest which again ended with the losing child crying. The ITC gave Channel 4 a formal warning following these two incidences, and the competition feature never appeared again on the programme.
As the years wore on, the format began to look stale, and viewing figures began to steadily fall. As a result, Channel 4 announced that the next series of TFI Friday was to be the last. Chris Evans left the show moments after Channel 4 announced their last series of TFI Friday, leaving the final series to be presented by a number of guest presenters.
- 10 November 2000 – Spice Girls
- 17 November 2000 – Big Brother 1 contestants ("Nasty" Nick Bateman, Anna Nolan, Craig Phillips, Melanie Hill)
- 24 November 2000 – Davina McCall & Dermot O'Leary
- 1 December 2000 – Sara Cox
- 8 December 2000 – Donna Air & Huey Morgan
- 15 December 2000 – Davina McCall & Dermot O'Leary
- 22 December 2000 – Elton John
In September 2005, Evans announced that he would be returning the TFI Friday format to TV, with OFI Sunday. The first edition was broadcast on 20 November 2005, but was not as successful and quickly axed.
Features on the show included:
- Freak or Unique – Every week, there would be five people waiting outside the studio, of whom three would be selected to show off a special if freakish talent (such as juicing an orange with their shoulders, or drinking milk which they then forced out of their tear ducts). A running gag throughout the run was the 'Incredibly Tall Old Lady' who would always be waiting outside the studio. She was never nominated (mainly because it was obviously an old woman standing on a box)
- Baby Left Baby Right: A small child was placed on a cushion and the guest was asked which way it might fall
- Fat lookalikes – People who looked like fat versions of celebrities which was then followed in later series by Asian lookalikes
- What Does the Fat Bloke Do? – An overweight man was invited on set and asked about his occupation, before dancing and leaving
- Comment from the Cafe – Evans would rope in Cedric (the proprietor of a local eatery) to perform various embarrassing skits. Cedric became famous for his catchphrase "Hellooooooooo!" and wooden acting
- Ugly Blokes – Unattractive gentlemen would have the opportunity to turn down the amorous advances of a 'gorgeous girl' (Catalina Guirado). A photo of footballer Peter Beardsley was shown during the 'Ugly Bloke' theme tune
- It's Your Letters – A wide assortment of viewers' letters (this was introduced by a burst of Reef's "Place Your Hands", re-recorded for the show with the words "It's Your Letters" replacing the original chorus of "Put our hands on").
- Fishbowl Challenge: A goldfish in a bowl would have two toy bridges for company. Which would it swim under first?
- Another running gag was directed at the show's producer, Will MacDonald (aka Wicked Will of MTV's Most Wanted fame), where everyone in the bar would point their fingers, begin to swivel them and chant 'Wiiillll' very creepily
- Will: Pub Genius – Will MacDonald would demonstrate a trick that could be performed using tools commonly found in a pub
- Wooden Bird with Purple Hair – Chris Evans would amuse the audience with a small nodding wooden woodpecker (with purple hair), that slid down a pole whilst an accompanying song was played.
- The Lord of Love – The veteran actor Ronald Fraser dressed in a quilted smoking jacket would recite love poems to girls in the audience.
- Wurthers – The shows cue card man. He became a frequent star of the show alongside Chris, during the last series of the show in which he was host. At the start of every show, they would both engage in telling a joke working alongside each other, with Wurthers finishing the joke with "I'm only joking of course!", with Chris then replying "He's only joking of course!". This became a frequent running gag before eventually fading out, with this being replaced with Chris sending Wurthers out on a task. The first and most memorable of these was sending him outside to look for a mini driver, while it was raining. Near the end of the show he found one and told her to say hello to the actor Minnie Driver, by waving at the camera who was at the same time being interviewed on the show with David Duchovny. The segment was originally a one-off, before being made a regular feature on the show.
- Show Us Your Face Then – someone in a football mascot outfit is introduced to the audience and invited to show them their real face.
- Sink or Swim – The studio audience (and viewers) were invited to speculate as to whether a chosen animal (e.g. a mouse or a snake) would sink or swim in a fishtank. To gasps of concern from the audience, the mouse turned out to be a good swimmer.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||9 February 1996||28 June 1996||17|
|2||13 September 1996||27 June 1997||41|
|3||5 September 1997||26 June 1998||41|
|4||4 September 1998||2 July 1999||41|
|5||10 September 1999||23 June 2000||41|
|6||10 November 2000||22 December 2000||7|