The Old Grey Whistle Test

The Old Grey Whistle Test (sometimes abbreviated to Whistle Test or OGWT) is a British television music show. The show was devised by BBC producer Rowan Ayers, commissioned by David Attenborough[1] and aired on BBC2 from 1971 to 1988. It took over the BBC2 late-night slot from Disco 2, which ran between September 1970 and July 1971, while continuing to feature non-chart music. The original producer, involved in an executive capacity throughout[2] the show's entire history, was Michael Appleton.

The Old Grey Whistle Test
Starkicker logo
Also known asWhistle Test (1983–88)
Created byRowan Ayers
Mike Appleton
Presented byRichard Williams
Ian Whitcomb
Bob Harris
Annie Nightingale
Andy Kershaw
David Hepworth
Mark Ellen
Richard Skinner
Ro Newton
Opening themeStone Fox Chase - Area Code 615 (1971-83)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Production
ProducerMike Appleton
Running time40–60 minutes
Production companyBBC Television
Release
Original networkBBC2 (1971–88)
BBC Four (One-off special, 2018)
Picture format576i (PAL)
Audio formatMono
Original release21 September 1971 (1971-09-21) 
23 February 2018 (2018-02-23)
External links
Website

According to presenter Bob Harris, the programme derived its name from a Tin Pan Alley phrase from years before. When they got the first pressing of a record they would play it to people they called the old greys – doormen in grey suits. Any song the doormen could remember and whistle, having heard it just once or twice, had passed the old grey whistle test.[3]

On 23 February 2018, a one-off live three-hour special of The Old Grey Whistle Test was broadcast on BBC Four, hosted by Bob Harris to mark 30 years since the final episode aired.[4]