Television Personalities

Television Personalities
Television Personalities
Origin England
Years active 1978 (1978)–present
Labels Domino Records
Associated acts
  • Dan Treacy
  • Texas Bob Juarez
  • Mike Stone
Past members

The Television Personalities are an English group with a varying line-up. The only constant member is singer–songwriter Dan Treacy (b. June 19, 1960), who uses the band as a vehicle for his music. The band's first release (January 1978) was the single "14th Floor / Oxford Street W1", while their second, the EP Where's Bill Grundy Now? features one of their best-known songs, "Part Time Punks".

The Television Personalities' first album And Don't the Kids Just Love It was released in 1981. It set the template for their subsequent career: neo-psychedelia, an obsession with youth culture of the 1960s, a fey, slightly camp lyrical attitude, and the occasional classic pop song. Their second album Mummy Your Not Watching Me [sic] demonstrated increased psychedelic influences. Their third album, entitled They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles showed Treacy's sense of humour: the TVPs were never to have any major commercial success in the UK – although their albums sold respectably in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. The first three albums featured Treacy and schoolmate Ed Ball; Ball left the band[when?] to found The Times, but rejoined in 2004.

The band were offered the support slot on Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's 1984 UK solo dates, but were promptly dropped after reading out former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett's home address.[1]

The 1985 album The Painted Word was unexpectedly dark in content, reflecting Treacy's despair at Thatcherite Britain and his personal circumstances.

Various line up changes prevented their next album (Privilege) from appearing until 1990. Their subsequent album Closer to God was a combination of fey sixties style pop and darker material, similar in tone to The Painted Word.

The album Don't Cry Baby, It's Only a Movie was released in 1998.

From 1998 to June 2004 Dan Treacy was incarcerated for shoplifting to feed his drug habit. He spent time aboard HM Prison ship the Weare in Portland Harbour, Dorset, England. He has referred to the Weare as "The Good Ship Lollipop". The experience helped him put his life and career back on track.

In February 2006 a new TVPs album My Dark Places was released. Despite their relatively small independent sales the TVPs were very influential on British music in the 1980s, especially the so-called C86 generation and many of the bands on Creation Records.

In an article in The Guardian on 24 April 2006, it was implied that Dan Treacy is in some way behind the Arctic Monkeys, although this is based on little more than a perceived similarity between their lyrical style and that of Treacy, and the fact that the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys, Alex Turner is mysteriously not credited with their songwriting.[2]




  • And Don't the Kids Just Love It (1981, Rough Trade)
  • Mummy Your Not Watching Me (1982, Whaam!)
  • They Could Have Been Bigger Than the Beatles (1982, Whaam!)
  • The Painted Word (1985, Illuminated)
  • Chocolat-Art (A Tribute to James Last) (1985, Pastell) (live in Germany 1984)
  • Privilege (1990, Fire)
  • Camping in France (Live) (1991, Overground)
  • Closer to God (1992, Fire)
  • How I Learned To Love The Bomb (1994, Overground)
  • Yes Darling, but is it Art? (Early Singles & Rarities) (1995, Fire)
  • I Was A Mod Before You Was A Mod (1995, Overground)
  • Top Gear (1996, Overground)
  • Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts (1997, Overground)
  • Don't Cry Baby, It's Only a Movie (1998)
  • Part Time Punks – The Very Best of the Television Personalities (1999)
  • Fashion Conscious (2002)
  • And They All Lived Happily Ever After (2006, Damaged Goods)
  • My Dark Places (2006)
  • Are We Nearly There Yet? (2007)
  • A Memory is Better Than Nothing written by (Dan Treacy) (TexasBob Juarez) (Mike Stone) (1 June 2010)


  • "14th Floor" (1978, W.I. Teen)
  • "Where's Bill Grundy Now?" (1978, Kings Road)
  • "Smashing Time" (1980, Rough Trade)
  • "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" (1981, Rough Trade)
  • "Painting By Numbers" (1981, Whaam!) (released as Gifted Children)
  • "Three Wishes" (1982, Whaam!)
  • "A Sense Of Belonging" (1983, Rough Trade)
  • "How I Learned To Love The Bomb" 12" (1986, Dreamworld)
  • "How I Learned To Love The Bomb" 7" (1986, Dreamworld)
  • "Salvador Dali's Garden Party" (1989, Fire)
  • "I Still Believe In Magic" (1989, Caff)
  • "Strangely Beautiful" (1991, Fire)
  • "She Never Read My Poems" (1992, Fire)
  • "We Will Be Your Gurus" (1992, Seminal Twang)
  • "Goodnight Mr. Spaceman" (1993, Fire)
  • "Far Away and Lost In Joy" (1994, Vinyl Japan)
  • "Do You Think If You Were Beautiful You'd Be Happy" (1995, Vinyl Japan)
  • "Seasons In The Sun" (1996, Twist)
  • "I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod" (1996, Overground)
  • "All The Young Children On Crack" (2006, Domino)
  • "The Good Anarchist" (2008, Elefant)
  • "People Think That We're Strange" (2009, Elefant)
  • "My New Tattoo/Funny He Never Married" (2009, Good Village)
  • "She's My Yoko" (2010, Rocket Girl)
  • "Wonder What It Was/Radiohead Song" (2011, Formosa Punk Records)


References to popular culture

Treacy is notorious for the numerous popular culture references and in-jokes scattered throughout the TVPs' lyrics, album titles and record artwork. Most of the references are to (mostly British) cult films, 1960s culture and forgotten or underappreciated musicians and celebrities.

What follows is a partial list of the these references.


  • Woody Allen – The song "Little Woody Allen" is named after the American filmmaker. He is also mentioned in "Salvador Dali's Garden Party."
  • The Angry Silence – The first song on the TVPs' debut full-length is called "This Angry Silence."
  • Dr. Strangelove – "How I Learned to Love the Bomb" is named after the full title of this Stanley Kubrick film.
  • The Elephant Man – "Arthur the Gardener" features a quote from this David Lynch film.
  • Girl on a Motorcycle – The TVPs have a song named after this Marianne Faithfull/Alain Delon film.
  • Grand Illusion – "La Grande Illusion" (the film's original French language title) is the name of a song on the TVPs' debut album.
  • If.... – The Lindsay Anderson film (starring Treacy favourite Malcolm McDowell) is quoted in several songs, including "Paradise Is For The Blessed" and "Not Even a Maybe."
  • King & Country – The TVPs named a song after this film by Joseph Losey. Several other Losey films are referenced in the TVPs' work, and "I See Myself in You" mentions Losey by name.
  • A Life of Her Own – The song "A Life of Her Own" is named after this George Cukor film.
  • Look Back in Anger – The last song on the TVPs' debut full-length is named after the film version of this famous play by John Osborne.
  • Privilege – The name of the band's fifth album is taken from this 1967 film by Peter Watkins. The band's third album credits Steven Shorter (the main character of Privilege) as producer.
  • Smashing Time – One of the TVPs' early singles was named after this Swinging London comedy.
  • A Taste of Honey – A major character from this popular "kitchen sink drama", Geoffrey Ingram, shows up in a lot of the Television Personalities' early work. See the In-Jokes section for the entry on him.
  • Being John Malkovich – the 1999 film is mentioned in "The Eminem Song"
  • Richard Harris – Irish actor. Mentioned in "A Day in Heaven" as a desired co-star of the song's protagonist.


  • Dad's Army – The popular BBC show is mentioned in "King & Country."
  • Bill Grundy – The TVPs named their 1978 EP Where's Bill Grundy Now? after the disgraced British television presenter.
  • Jackanory – "Jackanory Stories" references this popular BBC children's show.

Celebrities, musicians and artists

  • Syd Barrett – The band's debut album features a song called "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives." In imitation of Barrett's own solo work and Pink Floyd's Brain Damage, the song is significantly calmer than the rest of the album, and features mildly psychedelic studio effects (such as chirping birds). They also recorded a cover version of "Apples and Oranges" (the last Pink Floyd single written by Barrett) for Beyond the Wildwood, an indie tribute to Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd released in 1987.
  • The Byrds – The Byrds song "Eight Miles High" is frequently quoted both lyrically and musically by Treacy. The guitar solo on "King & Country" is based on the one in "Eight Miles High." Byrds member Roger McGuinn is also mentioned in the song "You, Me and Lou Reed"
  • Salvador Dalí – The TVPs' fifth album, Privilege, features a song called "Salvador Dali's Garden Party."
  • David Hockney – "David Hockney's Diaries" is the name of a song on the band's second album
  • The Jam – In "Geoffrey Ingram", Geoffrey and the narrator go to see The Jam play at the Marquee Club. Jam song titles are also quoted in TVPs lyrics, and the song "And Don't The Kids Just Love It" mentions Jam bassist Bruce Foxton getting all the girls.
  • Roy Lichtenstein – The TVPs' label, Whaam!, was named after one of Lichtenstein's paintings. "Lichtenstein Painting" is the name of a song on the band's second album. An earlier version of the song (released by Treacy under the name The Gifted Children) was called "Lichtenstein Girl"
  • Joan Miró – "An Exhibition by Joan Miro" is a song on the band's fifth album.
  • The Monochrome Set – Treacy references this band, contemporaries of the Television Personalities.
  • Joe Orton – The British playwright's death at the hands of his lover Kenneth Halliwell is referenced in the song "God Snaps His Fingers" (the song's title is itself a quote from a novel co-written by Orton and Halliwell). The song "The Good and Faithful Servant" is named after one of Orton's plays.
  • Joe Strummer – The lead singer of The Clash is mentioned in "Happy Families", along with Poly Styrene.
  • The Sharon Tate murders (1969) are referred to in the hand painted version of the "They Could Have Been Bigger Than the Beatles" album cover.
  • Rita Tushingham – The actress is mentioned in "Favourite Films." Several films of her films from the 1960s are also mentioned in TVPs songs.
  • Victor Vasarely – The painter is mentioned in "The Painter Word Pt. 2." Fellow Op Art artist Bridget Riley has a song named after her ("I Remember Bridget Riley").
  • Andy Warhol – The Pop Art maverick is often mentioned in Television Personalities songs.
  • The O-LevelEd Ball's other band at the time, mentioned in "Part Time Punks".
  • The Lurkers – Punk band mentioned in "Part Time Punks".
  • The Clash – Legendary punk band mentioned in "Part Time Punks".
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees – Punk band led by Siouxsie Sioux mentioned in "Part Time Punks".
  • John Peel – Influential UK radio DJ and early champion of the band, mentioned in "Part Time Punks".
  • In the song "Goodnight Mr. Spaceman", Treacy relates that he wishes he'd signed to Alan McGee's Creation label (McGee was an avid supporter of the TVPs), feels like Edvard Munch, and can't dance like Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.
  • Christine Keeler – UK model and showgirl famous for the Profumo affair. The idol of the girl in "A Day in Heaven".
  • Charles Manson – US cult leader. Mentioned in "A Day in Heaven" where the "good girl" of the song wants to kiss him.


  • Geoffrey Ingram – Ingram (sometimes spelled Ingrams) is a character from Shelagh Delaney's play "A Taste of Honey" (which was made into a popular film starring Rita Tushingham in 1961). He is often quoted and referenced in the TVPs' early work. The TVPs' debut album has a song about him (titled simply "Geoffrey Ingram").
  • Fake Producers – The band's self-produced albums often credit fictional producers. (Example: The first album is "produced" by "Vic Hammersmith-Broadway", an amalgamation of Jam producer Vic Coopersmith-Heaven and a lyric from "Geoffrey Ingram": "Geoffrey's got a nice new suit, he bought it yesterday/Ten pounds in an Oxfam shop near Hammersmith Broadway")


  • Carnaby Street – Treacy visits the site of the 1960s' most fashionable boutiques in "Smashing Time"
  • The Glittering Prizes
  • The Perfumed Garden – The song "In A Perfumed Garden" is named after John Peel's pirate radio show (itself named after the book by Shaykh Nefzawi).
  • King's Road – Referenced in several songs (including the seminal "Part Time Punks"), this Swinging London locale is close to where lead singer Dan Treacy was born.
  • "Read About Seymour" – A song by their contemporaries Swell Maps mentioned in "Part Time Punks".
  • Rough Trade – Popular London record store, later expanded and included a record label and distribution company. Mentioned in "Part Time Punks".


  1. ^ Miles, Barry; Andy Mabbett (1994). Pink Floyd the visual documentary ([Updated ed.] ed.). London :: Omnibus,. ISBN 0711941092. 
  2. ^ I suspect some Arctic Monkey business | Media | The Guardian
  3. ^ "If I Could Write Poetry" review

2. Alan McGee article in The Guardian: 3. ARC magazine interview:

External links

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