Launched in early 1996, TFI Friday became the coolest TV show in Britain practically overnight. Transmitted early on a Friday evening and hosted by maverick DJ-turned-telly-presenter Chris Evans, if offered the perfect mix of irreverent humour and seat-of-their-pants edginess.
Landing squarely in the midst of the Britpop era, its guest list read like a Who’s Who of Cool Britannia: Liam and Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, um, Toploader. And metal? That was seriously under-rated, obviously.
One notable exception came on March 3, 2000, when Slipknot dropped into the TFI studio for to make their live UK TV debut and promptly destroyed the place.
The Iowa nine-piece had become the most talked about - and controversial – band of the moment after dropping their landmark debut album the previous June.
One person who was a fan was the son of TFI Friday head writer Danny Baker. Baker Jr was reportedly so obsessed with the band that he demanded they be booked for the show – and so they were.
Both Evans and Baker have since admitted that they knew little about Slipknot ahead of their appearance, but neither he nor anyone connected with the show would forget them in a hurry.
As Evans introduces the band with all the conviction of a man who has clearly never heard them before – what exactly does “horror metal landslide legends” mean? – the camera swings around to the stage and all hell breaks loose.
Unlike the usual polite and/or too-cool-for-school TFI crowd, a pit is swirling even before the band explode into Wait And Bleed. The TV cameras struggle to track the madness that unfolds. Corey Taylor roars as he bounces up and down, Joey Jordison demolishes his hit and DJ Sid Wilson clearly thinks “bollocks to this” and jumps into the audience, which only makes then even more berserk.
As the song ends and things pan back to a shocked-looking Evans, he apologises for the manic visuals, and admits that one of the cameras is still MIA in the audience, which has been commandeered by overzealous Maggots.
It’s a classic Slipknot performance, and more importantly it gave metal some much-needed representation at a time it when was still being marginalised by the mainstream despite the massive crossover success of nu metal. We’d put money on more than one casual viewer dropping their dinner while watching it, but if it brought at least one person into the fold, then it did its job. And Slipknot themselves? They kind of did alright after it…