Juke Box Jury

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For the American television series that aired from 1948 to 1954, see Jukebox Jury.
Juke Box Jury
Genre Music
Created by Peter Potter
Presented by David Jacobs (1959–67)
Noel Edmonds (1979)
Jools Holland (1989–90)
Opening theme "Hit and Miss" by John Barry
Original channel BBC Television Service (1959–67)
BBC1 (1979)
BBC2 (1989–90)
Picture format 4:3
Original release 1 June 1959 (1959-06-01) – 25 November 1990 (1990-11-25)
Related shows Jukebox Jury

Juke Box Jury is a music panel show which originally ran on the BBC Television Service from 1 June 1959 until 27 December 1967. The programme was based on the American show Jukebox Jury,[1] itself an offshoot of a long-running radio series.[2]

Throughout its run the series featured celebrity showbusiness guests on a rotating weekly panel judging the hit potential of recent releases. By 1962 the programme attracted 12 million viewers weekly on Saturday nights.[3]

The concept was later revived by the BBC for one series in 1979 and a further two series in 1989/1990.


Juke Box Jury took a format where a guest panel reviewed new record releases in a 25-minute programme, extended to an hour for some Christmas shows. The format was drawn from that of the US TV series, Jukebox Jury.[4] Host David Jacobs each week asked four celebrities (the 'Jurors') to judge newly released records on his jukebox (a Rock-Ola Tempo II) and forecast which would be declared a "hit" or a "miss" – the decision accompanied by either a bell for a 'hit' or a hooter for a 'miss'.[5] A panel of three members of the audience voted as a tie-breaker if the guests' decision was deadlocked, by holding up a large circular disc with 'Hit' on one side and 'Miss' on the other. Most weeks the performers of one of the records would be hidden behind a screen and emerge to "surprise" the panel after they had given their verdict.[6]

The series was usually broadcast from the BBC TV Theatre, Shepherd's Bush Green, London. Each programme normally consisted of between seven and nine records. Those editions which were pre-recorded normally followed a live transmission, and broadcast in the regular slot.



Juke Box Jury was first broadcast on BBC Television on 1 June 1959. Originally on Monday evenings, the BBC show was moved to early Saturday evenings starting on 3 September 1959 due to its immediate popularity.[3] The series was produced by Russell Turner.[7]

The original panel consisted of Pete Murray, Alma Cogan, Gary Miller and Susan Stranks, who gave a 'teenager's view'. However, the panel of judges changed from week to week and mainly featured current stars from music, television and film. The panel normally comprised two male and two female guests, many of whom appeared more than once. Katie Boyle was a frequent Juror, as was Cilla Black, who appeared nine times.[8] Among the diverse others from the world of entertainment who appeared were Thora Hird, Alfred Hitchcock, Spike Milligan, Lonnie Donegan,[9] Johnny Mathis,[10] Roy Orbison and David McCallum.

By October 1959 Juke Box Jury had reached a weekly audience of 9 million viewers.[11] Bill Cotton took over production of the series during 1960, to be followed later in the year by Stewart Morris and then Neville Wortman, who was to remain the producer until the series ended in 1967.[7]

On 7 December 1963, the panel was the four Beatles,[12][13] while George Harrison and Ringo Starr both appeared separately later, as did their manager Brian Epstein, who was twice a panellist. John Lennon had already appeared on 29 June 1963.[14][15] Then on 4 July 1964 the five members of the Rolling Stones formed the panel, the only time there were more than four Jurors on the programme.[16] Keith Richards later wrote of this appearance: "We didn't give a shit.... We just trashed every record they played."'[17]

By early 1962, Juke Box Jury had a weekly audience of over 12 million viewers,[3] while the Beatles appearance on 7 December 1963 garnered an audience of 23 million,[3] and news of the Rolling Stones' appearance the following June garnered 10,000 applications to the BBC for tickets for the recording. The attraction of the programme deftly crossed generational boundaries – younger viewers revelling in the appearance of their current pop stars, while older adults identified with the often anti-pop sentiments of the panellists from a non-musical or older background,[4] confirming "adult and youthful prejudices at the same time"'.[18]

In January 1967, the Sunday tabloid newspaper News of the World in a series of attacks on the new hippy sub-culture and LSD, castigated David Jacobs in one article for playing the Mothers of Invention single "It Can't Happen Here" on a Juke Box Jury broadcast in November 1966 as it was 'recorded on a trip', and also blamed two of the jury for voting it a hit.[19] The jury on this occasion included Bobby Goldsboro, Susan Maughan and comedian Ted Rogers. In fact, by the time of the article, the BBC had already cut seven minutes from the 7 January 1967 programme because of drug references in one of that week's chosen songs, "The Addicted Man" by the Game, which had resulted in universal disapproval by the Jurors during an extended discussion.[20] This was part of a new policy for the programme during its last year of broadcast, when a regular panel of four disc jockeys was introduced, with a more detailed discussion of each song.

On 4 August 1967 the Seekers became only the third band to appear as Jurors in the series. The programme had by this time seen a drop in ratings, and from 27 September 1967 Juke Box Jury was moved from its prime place in the Saturday evening schedules and transmitted on early Wednesday evenings, replaced in the key Saturday slot by Dee Time.[21] At the end of 1967, Juke Box Jury was dropped from the BBC schedule because of its falling ratings, and the last broadcast was on 27 December 1967, with original Jurors Pete Murray and Susan Stranks appearing once more.

Post 1967[edit]

The programme has been revived twice, first in 1979 with Noel Edmonds as presenter, and then with Jools Holland for two seasons in 1989/1990, ending on 25 November 1990.[22] The 1979 series was most notable for a panel containing Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), who gave a characteristically acerbic performance before walking out before the end of the 30 June 1979 programme.[23][24]

BBC Radio Merseyside has run a radio version of Juke Box Jury for some years, hosted by Spencer Leigh and normally broadcast under the programme name On The Beat although it is often scheduled as Juke Box Jury.[25] The broadcaster Chris Evans also ran a variation of the format in 2008 on his BBC Radio 2 'Chris Evans Drivetime' programme, where listeners were invited to text either 'hit' or 'miss', plus their comments, to the programme.

Surviving recordings[edit]

Because of the BBC's policy of wiping tapes of its programmes in the 1960s, and the practice of not recording live programmes, only two episodes of Juke Box Jury are thought to still exist in their complete form,[26] although transcripts also exist of the Beatles' appearances – both solo and together. In 2001, during a year-long drive to find lost archive material, the BBC announced that an audio recording of the Beatles' appearance in December 1963 had re-surfaced,[27] a tape taken directly from the television broadcast.

Theme music[edit]

For the first six weeks of the programme, the theme to Juke Box Jury was "Juke Box Fury", written by composer and arranger Tony Osborne and recorded by his band under the name Ozzie Warlock and the Wizards.[28]

The programme's producer Russell Turner then replaced the theme with another instrumental, "Hit and Miss", performed by the John Barry Seven Plus Four, which remained the title music from 1960 to 1967.[29] For the last few months of the original series this was replaced by a version recorded by the Ted Heath Band.

The 1989–1990 Jools Holland series also featured "Hit and Miss", this time recorded by Courtney Pine.

Cultural references[edit]

Juke Box Jury has a history of being parodied, and the format has been used a number of times for other programmes:

In 1959, the BBC refused Tommy Steele permission to use David Jacobs in a Juke Box Jury comedy sketch for his Tommy Steele Show on ATV. The sketch went ahead in October 1959 with another BBC personality, announcer McDonald Hobley taking Jacobs' part.[30]

Benny Hill parodied the show as 'Soap Box Jury' on a show for the BBC on 4 March 1961. He impersonated David Jacobs and the panellists.[31] The sketch ended with a shot of Hill as all four panellists in one shot, achieved through filming each "panellist" separately and keeping the other three-fourths of the lens covered, which made this a landmark in both Hill's career and the development of television production. The sketch can be seen on the DVD compilation Benny Hill: The Lost Years, which was released in 2005.[32]

Also in 1961, comedian Jimmy Edwards promoted a tea-shop band 'The Burke Adams Tea-Time Three', who had a record judged a hit on Juke Box Jury, in the programme The Face of Enthusiasm, part of his comedy series The Faces of Jim.

Finnish television ran its own version of Juke Box Jury called Levyraati.[33] The Finnish version long outlasted Juke Box Jury – it ran from 1961 to 1992, and has both been revived since, and also re-imagined as Videoraati by Finnish cable TV channel MoonTV.

On 7 July 1962, BBC TV broadcast 'Twist Music With a Beat', a pop music programme about the dance craze 'The Twist', featuring a Twist competition between Juke Box Jury members and members of the cast of Compact. The show featured Petula Clark, Don Lang & His Twisters, Tony Osborne & His Mellow Men and The Viscounts.[34]

A ten-minute version of Juke Box Jury also featured as part of a regular 1960s BBC Christmas Day variety show Christmas Night with the Stars on Christmas Day 1962 and 1963.

The 1963 Gordon Flemyng film about the pop music industry Just For Fun[35] had a Juke Box Jury section which featured David Jacobs in his usual host position while Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman and Dick Emery played the jury panel. The film was scripted by Milton Subotsky, who was one of the earliest guests on the programme.

In 1964, the Rolling Stones recorded an advert for the breakfast cereal Rice Krispies, which used themes from the programme including a jukebox, studio audience scenes and both the 'Hit' button and the 'Hit' signs that the audience jury used.

The British comedy duo French and Saunders, who appeared on the programme in 1989, referred to Juke Box Jury in their parody of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in their eponymous 1990 comedy series.

The Generation X 1978 song "Ready Steady Go!" referenced the programme in its lyrics: "I'm not in love with Juke Box Jury/I'm not in love with Thank Your Lucky Stars".[36]

Ian Dury and The Blockheads named their November 1981 album, Juke Box Dury.[37]

In 1989, BBC TV's Arena produced a programme titled "Juke Box Jury" to commemorate the centenary of the jukebox. Hosted by David Jacobs, it also featured Juke Box Jury regulars Pete Murray and Dusty Springfield, with Phil Collins and Sarah Jane Morris making up the rest of the team.

The Late Show programme, "Classical Juke Box Jury" (1990) was a spoof of Juke Box Jury, in which a panel of three people with a background in classical music voted on different versions of Beethoven's 9th Symphony by a variety of conductors.[38]


An incomplete list of the guest panellists. Each week had four guest 'Jurors', often plus one surprise artist chosen from among the records played that week.[7][39][40]


David Jacobs was host throughout the series 1959–1967, with Pete Murray standing in on a number of occasions.



In addition to David Jacobs hosting, Vicki Smith was 'hostess' for the first few programmes.






  • 3 April 1965 – Katie Boyle, Adam Faith, Sue Lloyd, David Tomlinson
  • 1 May 1965 – Dave Clark
  • 25 September 1965 – Petula Clark, Buddy Greco, Virginia Lewis, Jonathan Kingston
  • 6 November 1965 – Dave Clark
  • 4 December 1965 – Cilla Black



1979 series[edit]

Hosted by Noel Edmonds

1989 series[edit]

(filmed in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1989), hosted by Jools Holland

1990 series[edit]

(filmed in London, 1990) host – Jools Holland


  1. ^ "A brief description of Juke Box Jury". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 28 June 2008. 
  2. ^ "Oddball Game Shows of the 1950s". Retrieved 28 June 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d Mundy, John: "Popular music on screen: from the Hollywood musical to music video" (Manchester University Press, 1999) ISBN 0-7190-4029-9, pp204-5
  4. ^ a b Turnock, Robert: "Television and consumer culture: Britain and the transformation of modernity" (I.B.Tauris, 2007) ISBN 1-84511-079-X
  5. ^ and often the panel's decision was wrong, notably 18 May 1963 when every panellist voted Bobby Rydell's single 'Butterfly Baby' a miss, even though it was already in the charts – New Musical Express Alley Cats column 24 May 1963
  6. ^ Howlin' Wolf was one of those guests, in 1964. This section of the programme often caused considerable embarrassment to the Jurors after they had slated the record, not realising the artist was behind the screen. Participants were given strict instructions on avoiding seeing the Jurors beforehand, see the letter sent to John Leyton for details of his appearance – wwww.johnleytonofficial.com/news_item_086.html
  7. ^ a b c The Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Juke Box Jury entry – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0197164/ retrieved 22 November 2011
  8. ^ Cilla Black Official Website – http://www.cillablack.com/tv-1960s.htm retrieved 23 November 2011
  9. ^ who, according to Bill Wyman, caused complaints from viewers and annoyed the Rolling Stones with an excessive outburst against one of their records – Wyman, Bill and Coleman, Ray: "Stone alone: the story of a rock 'n' roll band" (Viking, 1990) ISBN 0-670-82894-7
  10. ^ who in December 1962 also annoyed the viewing public by rubbishing British artists, especially Tommy Steele – see producer Neville Wortman's recollections of Juke Box Jury at http://www.sixtiescity.com/Television/NevilleWortman.htm retrieved 23 November 2011. In reference to the appearance Bob Hope was later to quip ' For his next record, Tommy Steele is dedicating 'Come Outside' to Johnny Mathis' – 'New Musical Express' Alley Cats column 4 January 1963
  11. ^ New Musical Express Alley Cats column 9 October 1959
  12. ^ a sequence now lost as far as video is concerned – Ingham, Chris – "The rough guide to the Beatles" (Rough Guides, 2003) ISBN 1-84353-140-2 p211
  13. ^ The BBC recorded a concert by The Beatles in the afternoon at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, then recorded Juke Box Jury from The Odeon Cinema, Liverpool immediately afterwards. The concert was broadcast later the same evening, after Juke Box Jury, as 'It's The Beatles'. Both shows were produced by Juke Box Jury producer Neville Wortman
  14. ^ Lennon voted all eight records in the programme a ‘miss’, including Elvis Presley’s ‘Devil In Disguise’
  15. ^ another section of Juke Box Jury which survives only as an audio recording. A transcript of Lennon’s contribution to the programme is available at http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1963.0622.jukebox.jury.john.lennon.html retrieved 23 November 2011
  16. ^ an appearance which caused some controversy as the Stones were scathing about every track played that week. See 'I'd like to forget about Juke Box Jury says Keith Richard' Melody Maker, July 1964 – text of article available at http://www.iorr.org/talk/read.php?1,1015096,1015370 retrieved 23 November 2011
  17. ^ Keith Richards, Life, Hachette UK, 2010, p.166
  18. ^ Mundy, John: "Popular music on screen: from the Hollywood musical to music video" (Manchester University Press, 1999) ISBN 0-7190-4029-9, pp204-5 and: Hill, John and M McLoone (editors): "Boxed In. The aesthetics of film and television" in "Big picture, small screen: the relations between film and television" (Luton University Press, 1996)
  19. ^ "Pop Stars and Drugs – the facts that will shock you", News of the World, 29 January 1967.
  20. ^ 'The BBC and drug songs' New Musical Express 12.01.1967. All four DJs featured that week considered the record "a disgrace"' (the words specifically used by Pete Murray to describe the song), and the record label, Parlophone, withdrew the record from release shortly afterwards. Copies now fetch considerable sums of money.
  21. ^ Ironically, the presenter Simon Dee had made a number of appearances on Juke Box Jury prior to taking the slot away from the series
  22. ^ Holland, Jools and Vyner, Harriet – Barefaced Lies and Boogie-Woogie Boasts (Penguin UK, 2008) ISBN 0-14-102677-4
  23. ^ After having been told to "'shut up" by veteran DJ and panellist Alan Freeman. The semi-official record 'Sex Pistols Live Europe' issued by Konexion/Chaos (KOMA 788017) in 1985 features some outtakes from the recording http://www.fodderstompf.com/DISCOGRAPHY/MISC/3world.html retrieved 23 November 2011
  24. ^ Lydon's comment on the show was featured in the music press a few weeks later: "Cos it was a racket!" he beams. "Quite frankly, it's the most awful goddamn programme in the world, and it's about time someone said so!" – 'JR wants you for a sunbeam' Record Mirror 28 July 1979
  25. ^ BBC Radio Merseyside website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/merseyside/programmes retrieved 27 November 2011
  26. ^ The 29 October 1960 programme survives, but it is not currently clear from available sources which other programme exists. There is some confusion on the internet over the broadcast date of the 29.10.60 programme, with some sources citing it as a 1959 broadcast, so there may be only one full programme extant
  27. ^ 'BBC gets Juke Box Jury tape of Beatles' The Daily Telegraph 17 September 2001 – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1340751/BBC-gets-Juke-Box-Jury-tape-of-Beatles.html retrieved 22 November 2011
  28. ^ Radio Day News http://www.turnipnet.com/whirligig/radio/news/news.htm. Retrieved 22 November 2011
  29. ^ 'John Barry: A Sixties Theme: from James Bond to Midnight Cowboy' (Boxtree Ltd, 2001) ISBN 0-7522-2033-0
  30. ^ New Musical Express Alley Cat column 25 September 1959
  31. ^ one of whom was called "Fred Curry", a takeoff on Pete Murray and another "Lady Edgware", a takeoff on Lady Isobel Barnett – the joke being that Barnet and Edgware are neighbouring London suburbs.
  32. ^ Benny's Place – http://runstop.de/lostyears02.html retrieved 22 November 2011
  33. ^ Levyraati entry at IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0380921/ retrieved 27 November 2011
  34. ^ Petula Clark.Net – http://www.petulaclark.net/tv/brittv60.html retrieved 26 November 2011
  35. ^ Just For Fun IMDB entry – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057213/ retrieved 27 November 2011
  36. ^ a classic summary of the reflection of the competition between UK televisions 1960s music-based programmes – http://www.plyrics.com/lyrics/generationx/readysteadygo.html retrieved 22 November 2011
  37. ^ http://www.iandury.com/04%20Juke%20Box%20Dury/ retrieved 22 November 2011
  38. ^ British Film Institute (BFI) http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/508368 retrieved 22 November 2011
  39. ^ The Actors Compendium, Juke Box Jury entry – http://www.filmdope.com/TVShow.aspx?FilmID=1318 retrieved 22 November 2011
  40. ^ The Classic TV Archive Juke Box Jury entry – http://ctva.biz/Music/UK/JukeBoxJury_UK.htm retrieved 23 November 2011. Other references are from the BBC (including the weekly tv listings magazine Radio Times) and artists own websites.
  41. ^ according to the Radio Times. If correct, there were 7 guests that week. It is more likely that the Poni-Tails were the surprise guests.
  42. ^ David Jacobs was astounded that Harding, noted for his rude attitude (he was known in the press as 'the rudest man in Britain') liked Eddie Cochran’s 'Little Angel' that he gave him the record – New Musical Express 15 January 1960
  43. ^ from Wurlitzer UK, who had supplied the iconic jukebox for the series, although it was actually a Rock-Ola, manufactured by one of their rivals – 'Juke Box Jury big hit on BBC-TV' Billboard 1 February Vol. 72, No. 5 Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510
  44. ^ who were all unable to identify Elvis Presley singing – New Musical Express 22 July 1960
  45. ^ married to each other at the time
  46. ^ New Musical Express Alley Cats column 21 April 1961
  47. ^ see John Leyton's official website wwww.johnleytonofficial.com/news_item_086.html for an insight into the mechanics of the arrangements for his appearance
  48. ^ The daughters of record producer and composer Norrie Paramor. This was a 'teenage panel' themed programme with teenage Jurors
  49. ^ one of whom must have been the mystery guest but records do not clarify details
  50. ^ this programme survives in audio form only. A transcript of the programme can be found at http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1963.1207.jukebox.jury.beatles.html retrieved 23 November 2011
  51. ^ records are unclear as to whether she is a guest panellist or the mystery guest. Although she released a number of singles that year, at that point in her career she was a relative unknown
  52. ^ The Beatles Wiki – http://beatleswiki.org/wiki/George_and_Ringo_on_Juke_Box_Jury_-_July_25,_1964 retrieved 23 November 2011
  53. ^ Lewisohn. M. 'The Complete Beatles Chronicle', Hamlyn UK 1992 ISBN 0-600-61001-2
  54. ^ recorded on 25 July 1964 immediately after the George Harrison recording
  55. ^ Matt Goss and Luke Goss of Bros appearing with their manager Tom Watkins

External links[edit]