The weekend starts here!

IN this new strange world we are living in, there are some shards of light. Tonight there is an Ready Steady Go! extravaganza on BBC4, starting at 8.30. How important RSG! was in those early days. It was on at 6.30 on Friday, and when it first started I was still going to Girl Guides on Friday evenings.

Although I enjoyed, to a greater or lesser extent, being a Guide, I was so envious of my best friend Chris who could sit at home and watch it. Something had to give. I left Guides.

And then life really began. Ready Steady Go! was a programme which was just for us – it had everything, style, music, dancing and exclusivity. This was a programme which had nothing to do with our parents. Keith Fordyce was a shame – he was so old (he was 35 in 1963), his jackets were so square and his hair so, so old-fashioned – but apart from that, everything was just what we wanted. Including, of course, the lovely Cathy McGowan, whose hair we all yearned to copy.

       

It was in black and white and our TVs were all very small in those days but it was ours.

So let’s hope tonight’s programmes reflect how very special it was.

On a completely different note, given it’s mother’s day on Sunday, I thought an image would be appropriate. I just ask the question: even in the Sixties could they seriously believe that this was a gift that your mother, any mother, would appreciate for the rest of the year? You should live that long.

But let’s finish on a great note – the song that in the very beginning announced the start of the weekend. Wipe Out by the Safaris. Happy days. Great days.

It’s Friday – it must be RSG!

The Story of Ready Steady Go went out on BBC4 on Friday 20 March 2020 (available to view until 20 April). What a joy it was. It had the same excitement, the same exuberance it always had. I was taken back to those Friday evenings when the very act of watching the programme told me that I really was part of a special group.

The Story of Ready Steady Go was fronted by Vicki Wickham, who produced it throughout its three year run, 1963-66 and there were stories from director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, of working with Mick Jagger, and finding new ways to use cameras in the studio.

 

There was great commentary from Chris Farlowe, Georgie Fame, and Eric Burdon from the Animals.

    

      

There were clips of everyone who made the Sixties great.

    

        

    

The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Tamla Motown Tour, Dusty Springfield, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, the Supremes, Them, the Animals, the Who and Georgie Fame. It was like Saturday night at the Corn Exchange in Chelmsford, or listening to the juke box in the Orpheus coffee bar in London Road.

   

Theresa Confrey talked about her time on the programme. Every week she and Patrick Kerr  demonstrated a different dance, some of which came and went – I mean who ever actually danced the Mashed Potato? There was Annie (Anne as she then was) Nightingale with extraordinary hair and Donovan just looking extraordinary, with grey wavy hair down to his shoulders.

    

    

There were clips of Michael Aldred, one of the groovy and yet short-lived presenters. Apparently he didn’t have audience appeal. Unlike Cathy McGowan, who sadly didn’t take part in the BBC programme.

The mime competition was included and Melanie Coe (far right of the picture), who won miming to Jump the Broomstick by Brenda Lee. Paul McCartney judged the competition and when Melanie went back to school the next Monday (she was 14) she was asked for her autograph.

It was interesting for its description of those days in the 60s when anything seemed possible. Using the cameras in a way that they became part of the programme itself, as they moved round the tiny studio. It brought it all back. I wanted to dig out my suede and head off to the Orpheus for a frothy coffee and hang out with people with Vespas and Lambrettas.

And there was the famous clip of Otis Redding, Eric Burdon and Chris Farlow singing Shake.

It was a very good programme. Watch it again.