If you read the Guardian the day before yesterday you’ll know that next week it’s the 20th anniversary of first episode of The Word, the yoof kultcha show that ran from the early to mid 90s. It had all sorts of exciting things happen on it, the best of which you can find on 4OD here. And someone’s put loads of clips from it up here, annoyingly, they’re not embeddable, but here’s some links to a couple of bits that get talked about a lot:

Torys Vs Miners Pillowfight here.

Nirvana’s first UK tv appearance here.

Emu attacking Snoop Dogg here.

Honestly, it’s dated quite badly over the last 15 years, but you get that the spirit is the important thing here, right?

Lamenting the past is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing on young, sexy, moist Platform, but it’s been 15 years since The Word ended, has there been a show that comes close to the anarchy, fun and youthfulness of it since then? Maybe The Girlie Show gave it a good stab actually, and the early Adam & Joe stuff was pretty fantastic, the 11 O’Clock Show was too nerdy, but aside from those guys – whose shows were sidelined at the time- there hasn’t been much, especially for the generation that reads Platform.

There’s obviously been moments, but decent 18-30 programming has been thin on the ground since Terry Christian et al shut up shop in 1995, which is before most of the readers on this site were even teenagers. The generation after 1995 got Chris Evans’ post-Britpop show TFI Friday, which was great, but was ultimately presented by a normal looking man in his thirties who liked a drink, not someone identifiably youthful as such- just a geezer who liked guitar bands and in-jokes.

The thing The Word had that TFI Friday (and its imitators) didn’t was the ‘young vs old’/’us vs them’ attitude that the presenters gave the show. Chris Evans was great in a bawdy, Benny Hill-esque kind of way, but The Word was way more punk- they got a butch skinhead dyke in as a presenter, they were righteous about things, they were identifiably not of the mainstream, a new breed- full of fresh ideas and hope. At the risk of sounding like Rik from the Young Ones, it was something ‘the kids’ got, but the desk jockeys and squares didn’t understand.

TFI Friday ended in 2000, and since then there’s been a few fantastic names on TV aimed at younger folks (all on Channel 4), really great, hilarious, smart, fresh people that could have taken the format of The Word and run with it, or come up with another format that made The Word look stale and old.

The problem is, all these great characters ended up on the twin boring evils of Big Brother’s Little Brother and T4, their talents wasted on the narrowness of the subject matter (toilet trips for future C-listers analysed over 25 minutes), or diluted by the 5 hour Sunday afternoon slog (There’s only so many ways you can introduce a ten year old episode of Friends everyone’s already had etched into their retinas many times).

It’s fashionable (and unjust) to hate Russell Brand, but to use him as an example, he was totally wasted at Big Brother (‘s Big Mouth), and post that his chat show was too formulaic and luvvie-esque, he grew up too fast, Ponderland was good but ultimately an exercise in nostalgia, nothing forward thinking, punk and youthful about that. If he’d been put in charge of a team of younger presenters and been told to make something for ‘the kids’, he’d have shitted all over The Word and done way worse things than got people to eat worms (check out the list of characters on BBBM when he was in charge, that’s called being funny, in case you didn’t know). When he was a presenter at MTV he turned up to work on September 12th 2001 dressed as Osama Bin Laden – he would have been perfect for getting a show together that outraged and confronted in equal measure.

Popworld was a shining beacon of hope for people who enjoyed young people being funny, badly behaved and subversive, in fact, it made The Word seem rather naive and pedestrian, despite being shown at 10.30am as opposed to The Word’s 11pm slot. After 2004 it got really good, but in 2006 Simon Amstell and Miquita Oliver left and got replaced by smug cock Alex Zane (his name sounds like he does street magic) and blandest woman in the world, Alexa Chung, immediately the vitriol got sucked out of the show. Instead of the brutal, catty attacks on celebrities that Simon and Miquita were so good at, the interviews began to resemble ‘bits’ that the head boy and girl do on the last day of the school year where they gently send up the headmaster but ultimately remain respectful and polite.

Alex Zane and Alexa Chung were too white bread and too into their careers to take that show further, and not long after they took over, it got canceled. Simon Amstell was interesting, intelligent and damaged, Miquita Oliver had her bitchy London girl routine on lock- they should have stuck with it, had it pushed up the schedule to 11pm and really gone to town on people. Then it would have been better than The Word for sure, it would have been a show that sent up youth culture and killed sacred cows all day long, it would have been the best thing.

But Miquita doesn’t seem to mind compereing the Hollyoaks Omnibus and Simon Amstell went the way of Word presenter Mark Lamaar, going immediately from ‘yoof tv’ to hilarious but dad music-orientated panel show Never Mind The Buzzcocks, which is a kind of visual Radio 2, there’s nothing subversive or angry about that show at all. He had another few years of agitating in him at least, he should’ve been given a budget and told ‘do us a youth show’, it could have been the hippest, funniest show ever put on TV- that guy is fucking funny. But he can’t go back, once you’ve been part of the establishment you can’t come back to the kids (Hi Rik!).

So what’s going to happen? Who’s gonna make the move? Cos The Word type shows could be really important, they could really bring people together way better than a magazine or a website ever could. The internet is great and everything, and it’s meant that isolated pockets of gays, weirdos and lonely smart kids (in the provinces – ghastly) could connect with each other, but I reckon a lot of people still don’t know where to look for that sort of thing, or haven’t looked because they haven’t thought about looking. The collective experience of TV would sort that out completely.

Having been a little rude about the internet (sorry! You know I love you more than life itself, big guy), I concede that the next big thing’ll probably come from internet TV (and hopefully make a shift across to grown up TV). It’d be great to see a decent anarchic cable access/Wayne’s World style living room show happen, stuff like that happens a lot in America, look at how cool and fun this cable access show is!:

This doesn’t seem to be going on in the UK, at least not with anyone smart, visionary or funny (I haven’t really researched this point to back it up, is it going on?). I guess someone’s gonna have to get on with it. If you think you’ve got some good ideas, get in touch with us, we’re thinking about putting something together here.