OMD Whistle Test

In 2003 the release of volume 2 of the The Old Grey Whistle Test featured a rare OMD TV appearance. Producer Jill Sinclair explains all…

OMD’s early television appearances are a rare and intriguing experience. At a time when video recorders were a rare sight, the early 80’s witnessed OMD’s development as a band from appearances on the classic UK music show Top Of The Pops to live performances on another classic UK music show The Old Grey Whistle Test.

The Old Grey Whistle Test remains one of the UK’s long-running and popular live music shows and following on from the DVD release of a first volume of classic cuts from the Whistle Test series, a second volume was released on 13th October 2003. This included OMD’s Whistle Test debut in 1980. OMD had performed two songs for the show: ‘Messages’ and ‘Dancing’ and it was ‘Dancing’ that was chosen for inclusion.

Jill Sinclair, the producer of the DVD, felt the time was right to showcase OMD: “I wanted to include OMD largely because of the intriguing nature of the performance and the track, and also because they illustrate the diversity of the series”. Diversity is the key word here as the DVD helps to put OMD into context with performances from the likes of Roxy Music, The Who, Joan Armatrading, The Adverts, Aztec Camera, Suzanne Vega, Prefab Sprout and The Pet Shop Boys.

“OMD are not an archetypal Whistle Test act” suggests Jill “and the way we think about the programme now – over 15 years after it finished – you wouldn’t put OMD in the top 50 artists you’d expect to see. Their performance perfectly illustrates two things: Firstly, that Whistle Test was an album-based show and actively encouraged artists to perform tracks from their albums, rather than material that had or might be released as a single. And secondly, I thought this performance gave a real insight into what was happening musically at that time. New technology was available, bands were experimenting and OMD were using these advances in a bold and innovative way. I thought the track had a mesmerising quality; was different and unexpected. All qualities I hope people will also associate with Whistle Test, as well as with OMD”.


R/D: October 2003

Running time:
Approx. 154 minutes

Release info:
Extras include commentary from Whistle Test presenters Mark Ellen and David Hepworth. This DVD is in PAL format and is available for Region 2 + 4.

Watch out for the bonus feature The Old Grey Squirrel Test 😉