Best moments of The Word: from grunge to gross-out

From our first glimpses of Nirvana and Oasis to worm sandwiches and a drunk soap star

Nirvana gave their first live TV performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit in 1991, prefaced by Kurt Cobain declaring Courtney Love "the best fuck in the world".

Oasis made their TV debut performing Supersonic.

First screening of Madonna's Justify My Love video on British network TV.

Donita Sparks, singer and guitarist with grungey band L7, pulled down her jeans and knickers during a 1992 performance of Pretend We're Dead. The audience got off lightly with full-frontal nudity: at Reading festival that year, she threw her used tampon into the crowd.

The Hopefuls section forced people desperate to be on TV to perform gross-out stunts – eat worm sandwiches, bathe in maggots, wear shoes full of dog dirt, lick sweat from a man's bellybutton or snog a pensioner.

In the gameshow segment Win or Weep, a contestant's most prized possession was destroyed if they failed to win. It outraged the tabloids but inspired later shows such as MTV's Trashed and Sky1's Beat the Crusher.

Mark Lamarr told Shabba Ranks he was talking "crap" in 1992 when he advocated the crucifixion of homosexuals.

An exuberantly refreshed Oliver Reed sang The Troggs's Wild Thing with Ned's Atomic Dustbin.

Lynne Perrie – AKA Ivy Tilsley from Coronation Street – massacred Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive in a tuneless cover version.

What did we miss? Share your highlights of the show below


Tim Lusher

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
How The Word changed television for ever

The show's creator on how, 20 years ago, Channel 4 changed television for ever with an outrageous late-night programme that was a deliberate challenge to the establishment

Charlie Parsons

10, Aug, 2010 @7:00 AM

Article image
Julia Raeside: Why do losers keep winning in the TV talent shows?

Julia Raeside is in uproar at the nation's top TV talent shows after promising contestants were booted out

Julia Raeside

11, Nov, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
'I'm not aggressive, I'm just passionate' - X Factor contestant Rachel Hylton on her struggles with drugs, prison and Dannii Minogue

X Factor contestant Rachel Hylton on her struggles with drugs, prison and Dannii Minogue

Hannah Pool

04, Dec, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
Remember Steve Brookstein?

Four years ago he won the X Factor. Now Steve Brookstein is singing on ferries. He talks to Patrick Barkham

Patrick Barkham

19, Dec, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
Cheryl or Dannii: who's got the fashion X factor?

Talent show queens Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue return to our screens this weekend. Let the style battle commence ...

Simon Chilvers & Emma Sibbles

20, Aug, 2009 @11:05 PM

Charlie Brooker: Chudge, nowtrage and plebbledash - just three of the words to learn from my New Media Dictionary

Charlie Brooker: In a break from my traditional misanthropic festival of whining, here's an abridged version of the New Media Dictionary

Charlie Brooker

02, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Article image
Reality show pop star who turned out to have the real X factor

Glittery warmth has seen Cheryl Cole outshine even the normally attention-hogging Simon Cowell. By Hadley Freeman

Hadley Freeman

13, Dec, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
Simon Cowell's lawyers warn press about harassment

Newspapers have been warned not to harass X Factor judge Simon Cowell after a tracking device was allegedly found attached to his car. By Ben Dowell

Ben Dowell

01, Dec, 2008 @2:14 PM

Article image
Why 2010 has been a vintage year for Essex
It's brought us the winners of Strictly, X Factor and I'm a Celebrity, but there's been so much more to celebrate in Essex over the last year

Pete May

21, Dec, 2010 @8:00 PM

TV Dinners: How to make the X Factor

The aperitif is a half-baked oaf known as Dermot O'Dreary. For the main ingredient - a deliciously witty, mean pig called Simon

Jim Shelley

28, Nov, 2007 @9:07 AM