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Sunday, 22 March 2020

Ready Steady Go


Click through images to BBC iPlayer

What a super two hours on BBC4 on Friday: Ready Steady Go, the music show that ran at 6 p.m. on Fridays on ITV from August 1963 to December 1966: The Weekend Starts Here.

There was an hour of documentary clips and memories from director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, producer Vicki Wickham, and the likes of Paul Jones of Manfred Mann, Gerry The Pacemakers Marsden, Martha Reeves and Georgie Fame (whose music I always rated for its sophistication). Then a further hour of archive performances.

Many of the original videotapes were wiped, popular music being thought ephemeral, but enough survives along with colour film footage shot for a documentary. As you might expect, there was a bit too much emphasis on The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – it would have been nice to see more of the less well remembered acts – but we did get to see Dusty Springfield singing Dancing In The Street with Martha and the Vandellas (way better than the Supremes any day) and Otis Redding performing with Eric Burdon and Chris Farlowe. Absolute magic. Some bits did look very dated, though, especially the mime competition.

Ready Steady Go was innovative and influential in the acts it booked – one of the first showcases for Tamla Motown on British television – and in the way it blended together with camera, audience, dancers and acts all mingling together. Many in the audience were Mods down from Sheffield’s King Mojo club.

I remember watching some of the programmes at the time: many at school thought it unmissable. For me it spanned those years from stamp collecting and trains to what was happening in the wider world.

I had to look up what happened to main presenters. The lovely and iconic Cathy McGowan is now around 77 but did not appear in the programmes. She was originally recruited to set off the smooth professional Keith Fordyce who died in 2011, aged 82.

The programmes are on BBC iPlayer until around 18th April, but knowing BBC4 they will probably be repeated ad infinitum.

39 comments:

  1. Ready Steady Go was Cathy McGowan and her hair style which influenced many a young girl at the time.

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  2. Missed it but will be sure to catch up with it. We are all getting in a very nostalgic mood for times past....

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  3. Sounds like fun! Nothing like a good trip down memory lane!

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    1. True, it was a very optimistic perios but not everything was as rosy as we think.

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  4. Blimey. That's going back a bit. I remember it well. I wanted to be Cathy!

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    1. She was one of the first personalities to be a role model - ordinary but attainable. Even Twiggy adored her.

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    1. I didn't want to be Cathy but I might have wanted to ...

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  6. I preferred the Old Grey Whistle Test, Tasker.

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    1. So did I, but that's probably because it came along 6 years after RSG ended and I was then older and into more 'serious' music.

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    2. If I may say, I think that Ready Steady Go was something significant to those of us born in the 1950s Dave because we hadn't really had anything like this before and our parents thought they were a load of scruffy gits and so we wanted to watch it even more, and it was a studio format of people wandering around that had never been seen before. Later I liked the Old Grey Whistle Test and we all grew away from Ready Steady Go which just died away. I remember something called the 65 Sepcial before RSG but it was more Tommy Steele and Adam Faith.

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  7. Being in the U.S., I never got to see Ready Steady Go but I enjoyed hearing all your memories about it. It is a program I would have loved by the sound of it and all the wonderful artists it featured. When I was a teenager here we had a similar show called Where the Action Is and also American Bandstand. It was very special as a teenager in the 1960s to have shows featuring "our" music!

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    1. Rachel sums it up perfectly in her response immediately above. Don't know if you can get BBC iPlayer in the U.S. but if you can the programmes are available for the next few weeks - the images click through to the BBC site.

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  8. Dancing in the streets! Now I must go find a YouTube.

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  9. Oil give it foive. Catch phrase.

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    1. Thank Your Lucky Stars - Janice Nicholls. It ran over roughly the same years as RSG.

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  10. Remember it well. I'm even old enough to remember Six-Five Special

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    1. I'm old enough, but was more interested in the trains in the title sequence.

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  11. Cathy McGowan is now 77 years old and as I am aware that you are well into celebrity gossip, did you know that her longtime boyfriend is the singer and radio presenter Michael Ball?

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    1. As I wrote the comment I guessed that you would already know this.

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    2. Also that she is about 19 years older than him.

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    3. See! You have your finger on the pulse of celebrity gossip.

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  12. Oh yes, Cathy McGowan. Long straight hair. TOTP was my must-watch.

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    1. I never missed TOTP either but that came later. As for RSG, I was aware of the music because I listened to the radio and had a guitar, but especially in the early days wasn't really interested in the dancing and fashion scene that was just as much part of RSG. Still aren't really.

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    2. I always remember the great excitement there was in our village when the local fishmonger and his friend were in the audience/crowd for RSG.

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    3. The documentary said the production team went round the clubs searching for people who looked trendy and were good dancers. If you fitted the criteria you got a tap on the shoulder and were handed a ticket. Did the fishmonger slip a haddock down his trousers to improve his moves?

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  13. I just listened to a few clips of Ready, Steady...on Youtube. It's good stuff! As another blogger mentioned, we had American Bandstand (and Soul Train) here in the states.

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    1. It was pretty far out for its time. Am I right you can't see iPlayer in the U.S.?

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    2. Well *we* can because we've somehow been able to confuse the BBC/iPlayer thingie into thinking that we're in the UK. My husband is Mr. Computer when it comes to these sorts of things, so we are lucky.

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    3. Don't they clap you in jail there for that kind of thing? Edward Snowden. Julian Assange. Chelsea Manning.

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  14. Ready Steady Go was what you watched with your coat half on. It was Friday night. We were all on our way out for some fun. Midweek, when Top of the Pops was broadcast, was when girls stayed in to wash their hair. Even the shampoo ads were like pop videos! Remember Toni?

    There's a blog you'd enjoy, Tasker. *Another Nickel in the Machine.* Its mast-line is a black and white photo of the Elephant and Castle skyline.

    Check out an old entry, Tuesday 21st February 2012.
    Posts tagged 'sixties'. Mary Quant, the miniskirt and the Chelsea Palace on the King's Road.

    There's a photo of a genteel elderly lady shopping in the trendy London thoroughfare. *The Swinging Sixties were a bit of a myth,* the caption reads, *this is what the King's Road really looked like.*

    Other posts I enjoyed on this blog ... Dickie Henderson and the Ross Sisters ... The Disappearance of Adam Diment (author of The Dolly, Dolly Spy and a lookalike for David Hemmings with whom he was photographed).

    On the way to Paris and Belgium I passed through the Big Smoke in 1966. So I had an Instamatic glimpse of Swinging London, a title conferred by Time Magazine, I believe. Even the grey London sky looked attractive.

    Michael Caine's DVD of the Sixties is good fun, but there was no appearance of our iconic girl Cathy McGowan who was incapable of artifice or hauteur.

    Dusty is gone and missed, but Julie Felix is still singing and took part in an antiwar concert in London; not a fan of Tony Blair.

    Did Eric Burdon settle in Los Angeles? Looking back, the careers of so many gifted artists was not much longer than a British summer.

    John Haggerty

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    1. As I keep suggesting, John, you should be writing a blog yourself - perhaps a review blog.

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  15. I'm only a follower Tasker, but I'm thankful for my laptop which my late brother-in-law gave me as a birthday gift. I had no intention of getting a computer, and I still have no email.

    Three things I recommend.

    The vintage films of Gwyn Thomas (1913-1891) on YouTube and BBC iplayer.
    I enjoyed his trips to Pontypridd and Newnham on the River Severn.
    Anthony Hopkins played the witty and inimitable writer (read The Dark Philosophers) in a BBC drama which used to be on YouTube, but not anymore.
    Watch the Gwyn Thomas interview with Mike Parkinson, YouTube.

    A World of My Own: James Mitchell 1969. Yorkshire Film Archive.
    Mitchell (1926-2002) created two brilliant TV dramas, Callan and When the Boat Comes in, and wrote many thrillers.
    In this grainy black-and-white documentary he retraces his early life in the terraced streets of South Shields.
    His son adapted When the Boat Comes In for the theatre.
    Read: Life in a Northern Town with Producer Peter Mitchell. August 9 2018. Alikivi.

    Finally the BBC documentaries of distinguished architectural critic Ian Nairn (1930-1988) who wrote for The Sunday Times in the 1960s.

    Watch *Football Towns, Huddersfield and Halifax* on YouTube and many more.
    Nairn grieved at bad planning and redevelopment which spoiled so many of our cities. He died in obscurity. Some of his books have been republished, *Nairn's London* and *Nairn's Paris*.

    Though a southerner, his heart was in Newcastle, a city he loved like a second home.

    In his trademark dark suit, Nairn was the man who always looks like a stranger, but who loved England's great buildings, winding streets, and little corner pubs.

    John Haggerty

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  16. Gwyn Thomas 1913-1981.
    Because he spoke the truth he made a few enemies in south Wales.

    J Haggerty

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  17. Ian Nairn (1930-1983).
    He dropped out of journalism and died alone in London.

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