The 10 best fictional bands on TV

South Park's Faith + 1

We don’t mean Bad News, The Rutles and Dethklok here, those reality-straddling telly-spawned spoofs-come-true; we mean those mysterious outfits solely confined to works of fiction, that have given us some insight over the years into the way that rock, punk and metal have been depicted (or lampooned) by ‘outsiders’ in a more mainstream cultural context.


From: The Paradise Club (Rock And Roll Roulette, 1990)

Bruce Dickinson plays Jake Skinner, singer/guitarist with Fraud Squad (alongside a pouting Janick Gers), rock megastars even though they’re apparently a tepid covers band. Jake’s a faux-Cockney frontman with a social conscience, bunking off from recording “the most expensive album in the history of rock and roll” to busk down the market, rebelling against his shady corporate management (“This is a band, not a bleedin’ supermarket!”).


From: The League Of Gentlemen (various episodes, 1999-2002)

The Royston Vasey-based glam rockers had a slinky hit with Voodoo Lady and made the heats for Eurovision 1981; unable to build on this early success, they tragically faded into obscurity. Rhythm guitarist Les McQueen always kept the dream alive, even giving his redundancy pay to singer Tony Cluedo to finance the band’s relaunch. Les never saw Tony again. “It’s a shit business.”


From: Quincy (Next Stop, Nowhere, 1982_)_

The dogged coroner’s final season saw him tackle the murderous evil of punk rock in this atypical cult classic episode. When a kid is killed at a gig by radical LA punks Mayhem, Dr Quincy lays the blame squarely on the band’s music – fast, raw, nihilistic antisocial anthems like Give Up and Choke (“Saw a blind man the other day, took his pencils and ran away”).


From: Red Dwarf (Timeslides, 1989)

When the Red Dwarf crew find a way to enter old photographs, Lister returns to the pub where his 17-year-old self is playing self-penned avant garde noise masterpiece Om alongside a promising rhythm section. “Neo-Marxist nihilistic anarchist” bassist Gazza and “whacked-out crazy hippy drummer” Dobbin are played by Jeff Walker and Bill Steer from Carcass – casting mooted by Napalm Death fan Craig Charles.


From: Scooby Doo (various episodes, 1999-2013)

Singer/guitarist Thorn, bassist/keyboardist Luna and drummer Dusk were initially assumed to be wicked witches by Scooby’s gang, who observed the girls’ pre-gig herbal ritual. In fact they’re a pagan power trio who describe themselves as “eco-goths” (with musical influences ranging from pop-punk to R&B to Pat Benatar), strutting their sassy stuff on fun tunes like Who Do Voodoo, Petrified Bride and Good Bad Girls.


From: South Park (Christian Rock Hard, 2003)

Undoubtedly a charismatic frontman, Eric Cartman led his classy boyband trio to Christian rock stardom with a set of devout, tender and alarmingly homoerotic love songs to Jesus. Trey Parker and Matt Stone recorded full versions of all Faith +1 hits, including Body Of Christ (“Sleek swimmer’s body, all muscled-up and toned”) and Pleasing Jesus (“I wanna feel His salvation all over my face”).


From: Only Fools And Horses (It’s Only Rock & Roll, 1983)

Rodney got himself a packing crate and joined this skiffle-punk rockabilly troupe (with a name suggested by Delboy), fronted by ‘Mental’ Mickey Maguire. The volatile vocalist sees red whenever Rodney counts the band in (“I do the one two three fours!”), but he very swiftly leads A Bunch Of Wallies onto Top Of The Pops with their Top 40 no-wave classic Boys Will Be Boys (albeit sans Rodders).


From: A Bit Of Fry And Laurie (19871991)

The main bitch sex monsters of the ‘light metal’ scene, mismatched legends The Bishop And The Warlord debuted on Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie’s sketch show in 1987. The unlikely duo returned in the third series with a sketch parodying the 1990 Judas Priest trial, when their song Grease My Gristle, Blow My Whistle was accused of making a woman set herself on fire.


From: The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (Episode 5, 1981)

Fronted by Hotblack Desiato (who spent a year dead for tax reasons), this ‘plutonium rock band’ were renowned for being “the loudest noise of any kind at all” in the Galaxy (their audiences had to stand 37 miles away in a concerete bunker). The pop-NWOBHM b-side of the Hitch-hikers theme tune was credited to Disaster Area, but isn’t as loud as you’d hope.


From: The Simpsons (That ‘90s Show, 2008)

Fronted by Homer Simpson, Sadgasm were originally a RnB quartet based in Springfield. They left their slick pop stylings behind in the 90s during the grunge boom and found fame with their own brand of misery rock. The band’s career took a nosedive after it was rumoured that Homer was addicted to drugs. The needles found in his home, however, were actually to inject insulin as he developed diabetes after one too many frappuccinos. Their hit song Margerine sounds a lot like Bush’s Glycerine, but we’re sure it’s a coincidence.

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Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.