The Hitman and Her

1988 - 1992: Number 19 in our series of the 50 key events in the history of dance music

In 1988, there were two versions of a social revolution. The first, fuelled by ecstasy, involved climbing over fences chased by the police. You knew rave had made it when a teenage Ian Beale namechecked Sunrise on EastEnders. Capitalism looked doomed.

The second version started on ITV at 1am (repeated – like some loop of hell – at 4am). The Hitman and Her was hosted by northern soul expert and model railway enthusiast Pete Waterman (The Hitman) and abused animal-stroker in waiting Michaela Strachan (Her).

Each week, they came to you live!!! from Mr Smiths!!! in Warrington!!! (or Bananas!!! Bolton's ultimate pleasuredome!!! – two years down the line, ripping out the mirror balls to become a superclub co-owned by Ryan Giggs, Mick Hucknall and Chris Evans). The Hitman and Her could simply have satisfied itself with displaying the cold harsh reality of any discotheque from 1975 to 1988 – Club 18-30 games like putting chipolatas down the diamanté Speedos of "the dancers" (Eugene & Storm) or passing custard-filled balloons between the breasts of dead-eyed girls with Bonnie Tyler hair.

But somehow, between The Hitman and Her being commissioned and made, rave and ecstasy happened – so what you got instead was a fantastic disconnect: a shunt of a TV programme that managed to capture the weird transition of Britain from Rita, Sue and Bob Too! to nightmare Creamfields with a corporate Vodafone tent, plugged in serendipitously to the exact moment when it switched.

One minute, the hordes would be shuffling to Touch Me by Sam Fox, with a Sam Fox-ish lookalike being lowered from the ceiling in a plastic gondola, half-heartedly "touching herself" as punters tried to look up her skirt. The next, a 46-year-old cameraman would be doing his best to crash-zoom in and out of a solitary gurner, stumbling about to Acid Tracks or Spank Spank by Phuture Pfantasy Club.

The Hitman and Her was such a mystifying anomaly on TV (largely because in the days before reality TV, it was one of the few places in the schedules where you could see real people doing real things – looking bored, getting drunk and trying to get off with each other) that The Late Show sent Paul Morley to try and analyse it. The item ends with him simply standing in the middle of the dancefloor, for the first and last time in his life, speechless.

Contributor

Jacques Peretti

The GuardianTramp

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