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.

Four days to go!

Four days to go until The Saturday Girls appears on the shelves! Who would have believed it? 23 August 2018 – a date for your diary. It started life as Beyond the Beehive, but now under the watchful eye of the team at Bonnier Zaffre it has become The Saturday Girls.

When I began writing the stories of Linda and Sandra I was really writing notes on what it was like to be a mod girl in Chelmsford in the Sixties, a piece of history that is often overlooked. The book describes life in the early Sixties, when rationing had finished but eggs were still considered a luxury, when the war was over but the H bomb was a threat hanging over all of us, when National Service was in its last days and teenagers had just been invented, from the point of view of mods. Mods who had the style, the scooters and … the music.

We had suffered with Radio Luxembourg under the blankets, and on TV we had groaned our way through Juke Box Jury with its old fogey panellists who didn’t understand music or youth or even life.

Of course there had been the 6:5 Special on BBC, and Oh Boy on ITV but we wanted more, though we didn’t quite know what. And then Ready Steady Go! burst onto our screens on Friday nights. Ready Steady Go! had it all – mods, music, fashion, dancing.

Ohh, just listen to Otis Redding, Eric Burdon and Chris Farlowe singing Shake.

It all fed into the world that became The Saturday Girls. I hope you buy it. I hope even more that you enjoy it.

World Cup euphoria

On 30th July 1966 my diary records that Sandra and I were travelling home from our walking holiday on the Isle of Wight.  On the train back to Waterloo we met two boys, Maurice and John, who carried our cases to the Underground and then, I note, Maurice went to find out about the World Cup.

We got home in the pouring rain, lugging our suitcases up the road.  While other people were out celebrating the success of the England team, Sandra and I spent the evening filling the test tubes we had bought in Alum Bay with layers of its different coloured sand – to be our holiday presents to our mums.  But the most surprising event on our estate that evening was that Sandra’s dad gave me ten bob.  He was obviously caught up in the magic of the football results.  Or perhaps he was just glad that I’d brought Sandra back safe and sound.

I was about to start my job at the Milk Bar on the Monday and Sunday’s diary page was full of worry about how early I would have to get up.  But I also record that on Pick of the Pops, the number one record was Chris Farlowe, singing ‘Out of Time.’  Strange face but great voice.