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|Other names||The Pepsi Network Chart|
|Running time||Sundays 4.00pm – 7.00pm|
|Home station||95.8 Capital FM|
|TV adaptations||Channel 5|
|Air dates||1 August 1993 to 29 December 2002|
The Pepsi Chart (previously known as "The Pepsi Network Chart Show") was a networked Sunday afternoon Top 40 countdown on UK radio that started life on 1 August 1993 with Neil 'Doctor' Fox hosting the show live from the Capital Radio studios in London. The Pepsi Chart show carried an emphasis in fun and was the UK's first personality-led chart show: the presenter was live and exciting, big-prize competitions were held, and the Top 10 was official - i.e. it was entirely sales-based resulting in a shared song order with the BBC's Radio 1 Official Chart Show and also theoretically played out at the same time.
The Pepsi Chart was produced for CRCA by Unique Productions who along with the (then) programme director of Capital Radio Richard Park, and Fox, came up with the new show concept. The show was broadcast on between 80 and 110 local commercial radio stations across the UK via SMS satellite. Locums for the 'Doctor' included Capital's own Steve Penk and Key 103 Manchester's Darren Proctor. Occasional guest presenters filled in, such as Richard Blackwood of MTV UK & Ireland fame.
Different compilation methods of the chart show were employed in its time. Initially, the sales: airplay ratio for its 40-11 positions were 30:70, but later became 50:50. Sales data was provided by Chart Information Network (CIN - now known as The Official UK Charts Company) and airplay data from Music Control. The final chart show on the Sunday before the new year would air with a chart of the year, counting down the Top 40 most popular singles of that particular year. An exception took place in December 1999, the last countdown of the millennium, when the Top 40 of all time was compiled and aired instead. Elton John's Candle in the Wind came out as top.
Over the years of the show's broadcast, little variation in the format was applied. A typical 3-hour show was aired live between 4pm and 7pm each Sunday, and consisted of the standard 40-1 singles countdown with the inclusion of recaps after every 10 songs. Competition announcements, live calls from contestants, interviews with the artists making that particular week's chart, and advertisements made up the remaining airtime. Criticism from chart purists and fans of the rival Radio 1 Official Top 40 show naturally included comment on the show's 40-11 compilation methods, regular advert slots interrupting the show, and the presenter talking over the starts and ends of music tracks in order to fit the show within the 3 hours. However, this presentation style was typical practice in commercial radio, anyway, and would have been no different from any other show featured on each of the participating stations. With the fun element in place, it was not unusual for the show to go "on the road" and broadcast live, backstage, from music events. The Smash Hits Poll Winners Party and Capital FM's own Party in the Park concerts were recurring occasions of popularity with the show.
As well as standard reaction interviews with chart-toppers, artists were often asked by Fox to "introduce the number one to the country". At other times, over the course of the show, artists may be asked to phone in to the studio at intervals to "pester" Fox into revealing the number one track way before even the Top 10 had begun being counted down. At these scripted points, Fox would insist that they'd have to wait to the end, just as with the rest of the listeners. Artists managing to cling on to the top spot for a total of four weeks would be awarded a Pepsi Chart blue disc. Although not made entirely clear to the listeners what exactly this blue disc was, its appearance was similar to those presented in Silver and Gold Record awards.
Requirements for a radio station taking the show were that the station's coverage area was mostly in a "white-space", i.e. broadcasting to an audience not already covered by a rival participant. There were the odd exceptions to the rule, most notably when existing stations agree for the new station to carry the show. Other requirements were that the station was a current CRCA member, and the ability to fulfill the obligation of playing a pre-determined number of show promos over the week during primetime to a specific number of the target 15-24 audience. As well as taking the Sunday afternoon show, stations were requested to air the 5-minute chart checkups as part of their usual programming on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Non-live audio clips were delivered via SMS and so stations were expected to have the facility and equipment already in place.
Following the success of the radio show, the Pepsi Chart Show was brought to TV screens on Channel 5 as a rival to the BBC's Top of the Pops weekly music programme. Filming initially took place at the Hanover Grand venue near to London's Regent Street, with Rhona Mitra and Eddy Temple-Morris as presenters. Over time, the show moved on to the Sound venue in nearby Leicester Square, with Fox, himself, at the helm. Abbie Eastwood and Matt Brown eventually took over to become the final presenters of the show. Despite being one of the most-watched shows on Channel 5, the TV show never really made much of an impact on the music television audience share, with likely blames being a combination of both restrictions in the analogue terrestrial transmission coverage of Channel 5 at the time, and a failure in attracting appearances from the bigger-name pop acts, (There were notably more live performances from the more 'alternative' acts, and as a result, the TV show scarcely reflected the music in the radio version of the Pepsi Chart, which was more biased towards commercial radio airplay's hit music). Named "Doctor Fox's Chart Update" in the TV listings, a Pepsi Chart branded spin-off was also aired as a 5 minute slot on Monday evenings, providing a recap of the previous Sunday night's Top 10. Live performances at the Sound nightclub were also used on Pepsi Chart TV shows overseas in countries such as Hungary and Australia.
Nevertheless, the Pepsi Chart brand had remained strong, helped along by its continued use in exclusive promotional CDs and autoscan radios that were offered to consumers of Pepsi and 7-Up soft drinks. Commercial compilation albums featuring artists from the chart were also produced for the mainstream music market, and frequently boasted chart-topping positions in the compilations category. Other than music CDs, annuals, board games and music quiz DVDs also found their way into high street stores. The Pepsi Chart brand had also managed to spread to other parts of the world, including countries such as The Netherlands, Ireland and Thailand.
Pepsi took over as sponsors of The Network Chart Show in August 1993 from Nescafe, with a complete overhaul of the original show's format. After 9 successful years, in late 2002, Pepsi announced the termination of their sponsorship of the show.
List of albums
Here is a complete list of the compilation albums released.
- Hits Zone '97 (1997)
- Hits Zone The Best of '97 (1997)
- The Best Pepsi Chart Album in the World ...Ever! (1999)
- The Best Pepsi Chart Album in the World ...Ever! 2000 (2000)
- Pepsi Chart 2001 (2000)
- The New Pepsi Chart Album (2001)
- Pepsi Chart 2002 (2001)
- New! Pepsi Chart 2002 (2002)
- Pepsi Chart 2003 (2003)
- Listen Up (2003) (not so much a Pepsi Chart album but an album based on Pepsi. It was free in Popworld magazine).
Additionally, there was a released DVD titled Pepsi Chart Music Quiz in 2002.