Pop and Music Television Shows
of the Sixties

The TOTP Studio


Jimmy Savile

Ruth and Dee

Flick Colby

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Jimmy Savile

Pan's People

From a pilot show called 'Teen and Twenty Record Club' based loosely on the BBC's radio show 'Pick Of The Pops' this was purely a top of the charts show and has become the longest-running British pop vehicle, arguably reaching its greatest heights in the early and mid-Seventies.

It was originally booked for only six programmes, but due to its immediate popularity was extended indefinitely after only the second. Transmitted on Wednesdays, later Thursdays, the entire show had to be put together in about 24 hours as the week's chart was released at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. The original four DJ presenters were Jimmy Savile, David Jacobs, Alan 'Fluff' Freeman and Pete Murray who were generally considered to be the country's best at the time. They compered the show in strict rotation, with the following week's DJ appearing in a cameo 'handover' at the end of the show. Assistants included Diane Hefforan, Denise Sampey ( who span the discs on the first programme ) and Samantha Juste ( who took over the role from Denise and eventually married Monkee Micky Dolenz after they met on the show ).

The original producer was Johnnie Stewart who was responsible for the show's incredible success and growth during the Sixties and early Seventies. His trademark logo silhouette always appeared beside his name on the closing credits.

The first show was broadcast on 1st January 1964 from a disused church in Dickenson Road, Manchester, ( because most of the other BBC studios were busy at the time ) which had been acquired by the BBC and fitted out as a studio some years earlier. At 6.36 p.m. a new era in Pop was born with Jimmy Savile introducing The Rolling Stones performing 'I Wanna Be Your Man'. The first show also featured other 'live' acts Dusty Springfield ( I Only Wanna Be With You ), The Dave Clark Five ( Glad All Over ), The Hollies ( Stay ) and The Swinging Blue Jeans ( Hippy Hippy Shake ). Discs and filmed items shown were Cliff Richard and The Shadows ( Wonderful Life ), Freddie and The Dreamers ( You Were Made For Me ), Gene Pitney ( 24 Hours From Tulsa ) and news clips of the Beatles to the sound of 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

Generally, the acts mimed their songs - not because they couldn't play / sing ( although this was questionable in some cases ), but to achieve a higher transmission sound quality. This changed in 1966 after a Musicians Union ban on artists miming to their actual records.
Following this, the Top of the Pops Orchestra, directed by Johnny Pearson, provided live backing to specially recorded tracks by the artists. Vocal backing was provided by The Ladybirds ( Maggie Stredder, Gloria George and Marian Davis ).

As with Ready Steady Go, a live studio audience were able to dance to and, in the early years, meet and mingle with the stars.

By mid 1967 the Manchester studio had become too small for the increasingly complex production and it was moved to Lime Grove studios in London. From there it went to Studio 2 at Television Centre and, eventually, to the huge Studio 5 back at Lime Grove. Also at this time, the show started using 'guest' DJs, the first of which were Emperor Roscoe, Kenny Everett, Stuart Henry and Simon Dee ( whose TOTP career only lasted a few months before he was given his own show ).

Live television threw up all kinds of problems, one of the most memorable being in March 1967 when, in his first appearance on TOTP, Jimi Hendrix was announced by Pete Murray and was quite bemused when he started his 'mime' to the sound of an Alan Price record. Never lost for a quick comment, Jimi was heard to say 'I like the voice, man, but I don't know the words' just before the camera switched to Pete Murray doing a quick cover-up while the sound engineer frantically searched for the tape of 'Purple Rain'.

Another 'goodie' was on the November 9th 1967 200th edition show when the normally immaculate Gene Pitney completely forgot the words to his song and just made it up as he went along, giving rise to an extremely dubious 'lip-synch'. This show, like the first, was introduced by Jimmy Savile. Live acts seen were The Dave Clark Five ( Everybody Knows ), Val Doonican ( If The Whole World Stopped Loving ), The Kinks ( Autumn Almanac ), the unfortunate Gene Pitney ( Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart ) and The Foundations ( Baby, Now That I've Found You ). Filmed items were Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Titch ( Zabadak ), The Who ( I Can See For Miles ) and Donovan with 'There Is A Mountain'. Guests on this special edition show included two of The Bee Gees, Lulu, Alan Price, Paul Jones, Graham Nash, Scott Walker and Simon Dee.

One of the major attractions of the show during the Sixties and Seventies were the fabulous dance troupe Pan's People choreographed by Flick Colby, who joined the show in 1967 ( dancing to 'Mony Mony' by Tommy James and The Shondells ) after the departure of the original 3-6 girl outfit 'The Gojos', performing their sexy dance routines to backing music from current chart hits in a variety of wonderful outfits. They usually had a maximum of one week and, occasionally, only 24 hours to perfect their routine for each show. The original PP line-up was Flick Colby ( who soon stopped performing to concentrate on the choreography and business side ), Ruth Pearson, Babs Lord, Dee Wilde, Louise Clark and Andy Rutherford ( Cherry Gillespie replaced Andy when she left to have a baby in the early Seventies ).

The show celebrated its 250th edition in October 1968 when live acts included The Tremeloes and The Love Affair. Mary Hopkin was at No1 with 'Those Were The Days' and The Beatles at No2 with 'Hey Jude'. The theme music probably most associated with the show was CCS's version of 'Whole Lotta Love', but during the Sixties it was an instrumental piece written by Johnnie Stewart and Harry Rabinowitz. It was first performed as a percussion piece by Bobby Midgly, replaced by another version of the same piece played by a five-piece orchestra and later a third version played by Johnny Pearson's Top Of The Pops Orchestra.

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