Overheads too high, audiences too low, basically.
But now, BBC 6 Music have taken a tentative step in the music telly direction, with this pilot show: All Shook Up.
Weirdly, the website states that it's a 'series' with 'no upcoming broadcasts', which apparently is as close as the web team can get to telling us it's a pilot (although they do mention the P-word if you click on 'Full Description' - and there are apparently more episodes planned, although when they'll appear is a slight mystery).
Basically it's an economy version of The Old Grey Whistle Test, based around bands that have featured on the Marc Riley BBC 6 music radio show. As such it's rather biased towards the acceptable end of indie.
Mark Riley's show isn't bad, you understand, but for a non-playlist, new-music evening show presented by an ex-member of The Fall you'd think it would push the boat out, musically, a little further than it actually does. So the TV version probably isn't going to get too loud or weird. But hey. At least it's not Later With Jools Holland.
Whether the BBC continues with the idea probably depends on how many people watch the pilot. So click and watch, and we'll see where it goes from here...
Thumbnail review of the bands in the pilot episode now follow...
Slug - proggy pop. Interestingly quirky, as if they'd grown up listening to XTC and King Crimson. Bloody annoying bow ties, though.
LoneLady - every so often, BBC 6 Music goes from zero interest to heavy rotation over an artist, for no apparent reason (recent example: Sleater-Kinney.)
LoneLady is the latest to get 6 Music blanket coverage. She's done live sessions for Marc Riley and Lauren Laverne, appeared at the 6 Music Festival - she's all over the station like a spilled pint at the moment.
Strange, because her earlier stuff (and certainly the great album she did with Jah Wobble) were never covered, never mentioned. In the TV pilot Marc Riley dimly gropes towards acknowledging her past work - he says she's collaborated with Public Image Limited, which is, erm, wrong, but you know what he's trying to say.
Still, it's nice that 6 Music has belatedly caught up with her, and I do like her economical, A Certain Ratio/Talking Heads-y post-punk funk. Jah Wobble's groovy bottom is much missed, mind. I can't help wishing they'd done more of this stuff...
The Wave Pictures - three blokes, almost surreal in their uber-ordinary lads image, make neat, careful, fuzzy-round-the-edges indie. Their Wild Billy Childish collaboration has nudged them towards a more garagey sound, but even Wild Billy - a maverick if ever there was one - can't overturn the band's all-pervasive ordinariness. C'mon, lads, you're on telly (sort of). You could at least try to look like you mean it!