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The TV Rock n' Roll Years

Don Lang and the Frantic Five take a break during rehearsal
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.

Alma Cogan"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.

Cool for Cats - Dougie Squires DancersIn 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.

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Oh Boy! intro

Cliff RichardOver 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".

Visit the "Oh Boy!" website

New Jasmine CD

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.

Juke Box Jury"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.

Click Here! Juke Box Jury Theme (1959)

Click Here! Juke Box Jury Theme (1960 onwards)

Omnibus Press
Rock & Pop on British TV
Jeff Evans
Published February 16th 2017

‘Author Evans does us proud. He’s listed just about every worthwhile TV programme that’s tooted its flute on behalf of pop, and keeps everything entertaining… it’s a brilliant ride.’
Fred Dellar, Mojo

‘What a treasure … a work of scholarship with such abundant research.
Brilliant stuff.’
Tony Palmer, director All My Loving

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 BBC’s 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.

Chapters Titles:

The Fifties - It’s Time To Jive On The Old Six-Five
The Sixties - The Weekend Starts Here
The Seventies - Say Something Outrageous
The Eighties - It’s 12 Noon In London
The Nineties - Cool Britannia
The New Millennium - Over On The Red Button

About the author:
Jeff Evans was born in South Wales and is a language graduate from the University of Reading. He is the author of around 30 books, including the acclaimed Penguin TV Companion (four editions), Midsomer Murders: the Making of an English Crime Classic and Evans' TV Trivia. Wearing a different hat, he is one of the world's best-known beer writers, a former editor of CAMRA's national Good Beer Guide, and the author of the Good Bottled Beer Guide, So You Want to Be a Beer Expert? and CAMRA's Beer Knowledge. He has also written for Radio Times, The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Mirror.

Link to a Rock n' Roll star who appeared on Oh Boy and Drumbeat Roy Young's website

The Video Beat!
1950s & 1960s Rock n Roll Movies

Ministry of Rock
Chris Nickson's Guide to British Rock

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