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The TV Rock n' Roll Years
1957 Six-Five Special: Don Lang and the Frantic Five take a break during rehearsal
The BBC launched "Hit Parade" in 1952 (and later revived it in 1955), in which songs were not performed by their original artists, but by a team of residents, led by Petula Clark and Denis Lotis.
"Off the Record" followed in May 1955, featuring pop news, 'behind the scenes' interviews and performers in the studio. It was introduced by the veteran bandleader Jack Payne. The first show featured Max Bygraves, The Four Aces, Ronnie Hilton and Alma Cogan performing her No. 1 hit 'Dreamboat'.
ITV, on their third transmission day in 1955, broadcast "TV Music Shop" featuring stars such as Teddy Johnson and Pearl Carr.
In December 1956 Associated Rediffusion broadcast "Cool for Cats" originally on Mondays at 7:15pm and later on Thursdays. This was introduced by Kent Walton and was a fifteen minute programme where discs were played and then commented upon by the compere, sometimes with visual interpretations of the music by The Dougie Squires Dancers. This ran eventually until 1959.
Up until 1957, a closed period of television between 6-7pm called the "Toddler's Truce" was in place. This was formally ended in February 1957 when the BBC broadcast a new programme aimed at young people featuring live music and a live audience. "Six-Five Special" was born and a small piece of television and Rock n' Roll history was made.
|Over on ITV "Oh Boy!" started a trial run in June 1958 and was nationally networked in September in direct competition with Six-Five Special at 6 to 6:30pm. The hosts were Tony Hall and Jimmy Henney and it featured non-stop music. It was broadcast live from the Hackney Empire. Resident performers were led by the show's musical director Harry Robinson and his band. Lord Rockingham's XI were helped to a No. 1 hit with "Hoots Mon" by the show which was also supported by the dancing/singing Vernons Girls, the Dallas Boys and Neville Taylor's Cutters. Marty Wilde was also a resident along with Billy Fury, Dickey Pride, Red Price, Vince Eager, Ronnie Carroll, Cherry Wainer on electric organ and Cuddly Dudley. The show's greatest discovery was Cliff Richard who appeared on the first show and two weeks later had entered the charts with "Move It".|
Six-Five Special was dropped in favour of "Dig This!" in January 1959 whose resident band was Bob Miller and the Millermen. Gary Marshall introduced but the show was dropped in March and the BBC conceded defeat in the battle for the Six o'clock audience and rescheduled the programme's replacement "Drumbeat" at 6:30pm. This was the programme which launched the career of Adam Faith, who by the end of 1959 had a No. 1 hit with "What do you Want?".
"Oh Boy!" ended on ITV in May 1959 and was replaced with "Boy Meets Girl" in September 1959. Marty Wilde was the boy in question and the Vernons provided the girls. Joe Brown made regular appearances on this programme.
"Drumbeat" ended in August 1959 and was replaced by "Juke Box Jury" with resident DJ David Jacobs. The first show featured Alma Cogan, Gary Miller, Pete Murray and Susan Stranks (a 'typical' teenager).
Juke Box Jury marked the end of an era in pop music on television. In less than four years TV Rock n' Roll had flourished and died.
There were two theme tunes used for Juke Box Jury.
Juke Box Jury Theme (1959)
Juke Box Jury Theme (1960 onwards)
Evans does us proud. Hes listed just about every
worthwhile TV programme thats tooted its flute on
behalf of pop, and keeps everything entertaining
its a brilliant ride.
a work of scholarship with such
Rock & Pop on British TV by Jeff Evans celebrates 60 years of pop music on British television.
On 16th February 1957, the first edition of the BBCs Six-Five Special was aired. Hosted by Pete Murray and Jo Douglas, the lively Saturday night programme was the first television show to embrace rock n roll music, and it set the scene for hundreds of rock and pop shows to follow.
TV historian and music aficionado Jeff Evans has compiled the whole story of the six decades that followed, speaking to artists and presenters whose careers were shaped by music on television and providing context on how programmes fitted into the music landscape of the time.
Covering the highs and the lows of music on British television, the book recalls among many stand-out moments the Beatles playing to the planet in Our World, David Bowie's gender-fluid performance of Starman on Top of the Pops, the Sex Pistols' appearance on Today with Bill Grundy, the euphoria of Live Aid, and Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood's tragicomic night hosting The BRITs in 1989.
In more than 300 pages of lively text, the book reveals what connects The Old Grey Whistle Test to Meryl Streep, the male musician who auditioned to be presenter of The Tube dressed as a bride, and an awards show that critic Clive James described as having the lasting importance of someone breaking wind in the middle of a hurricane.
Also included are less widely remembered shows such as Discs A Gogo, Lift Off With Ayshea, Revolver, The Hitman and Her, The White Room and Popworld.
Rock & Pop on British TV is the definitive read on the importance of music on telly from its inception to the present day.
Fifties - Its Time To Jive On The Old Six-Five
Link to a Rock n' Roll star who appeared on Oh Boy and Drumbeat Roy Young's website
1950s & 1960s Rock n Roll Movies
Chris Nickson's Guide to British Rock
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