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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

On Tuesday 18th August 1959 ABC announce that Oh Boy will be replaced with a new series Boy Meets Girls. The new show would again be produced by Jack Good with Rita Gillespie directing. The ‘boy’ was Marty Wilde and the ‘girls’ The Vernons Girls singing group, all sixteen of them, who would be the weekly regulars.


The show was similar in concept to Oh Boy! with a new backing group Jack Good’s Firing Squad, however organist Cherry Wainer and saxophonist Red Price were retained from the previous show. It also kept the same production team. Bill Shepherd was hired as the musical director, Leslie Cooper was the ‘dance director’ and Trevor Peacock was held over from Oh Boy as the script writer. Wainer would also bring along her miniature poodle, Lotus Lee. One of the girls, Margaret Stredder would be given a solo spot and a duet with Marty Wilde. Bill Shepherd said of her "This girl is so dedicated to the business that she must one day be a star." She would later form backing singers The Ladybirds, who appeared in every British variety show from Top Of The Pops to The Benny Hill Show.


Melody Maker quoted ABC's Ron Rowson "We shall also feature American stars each week. The show will be quieter and smoother and will not move at the same frantic pace as 'Oh Boy'". Good said "The show will be designed to appeal to the older brothers and sisters as well as the teenagers."


Talking to Disc ahead of the first show Good claimed ".. probably the most noticeable thing will be that the programme will not be a frantic bash-bash-bash affair. Wild rock n roll will still have a firm place. But the onslaught of one number on the heels of another will no longer be a feature. You will be told the names of artistes and what they are singing." Explaining the new direction Good said "There is no doubt that the balance of power in popular music has changed. Five out of the American Top Ten records have orchestrations that employ strings. Melody counts. Lyrics count. There is a much wider variety of successful records. Nowadays you have to tickle the public's fancy, not bash it into submission." Good responded to the same claims in TV Times four weeks' into the show's run. "Rock n roll is not as overwhelming as it was. But there is nothing sudden about the change. Popular music is tending to become more melodic and less frantic. The arrangements are sweeter and the whole atmosphere is different - like the new show. We are out to capture the elder brothers and sisters of the teenagers. And the mums and dads too."


Good later tells Disc magazine that half of the shows are live, while the other half are video taped. The first show was broadcast from ABC's Didsbury, Manchester studios, but may move down to Teddington, Middlesex later on.


After a run-in with guest Johnny Cash house band guitarist Joe Brown was fired, only to be reinstated once Cash had found out what had happened. British rockers Adam Faith, Jess Conrad, Billy Fury were frequent guests while Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent appeared as a part of their UK tour. Other American rockers like Freddie Cannon and Ronnie Hawkins also appeared, while Jerry Keller, Bobby Darin and Frankie Avalon had been approached to appear.


Cliff Richard publishes an autobiography, It's Great To Be Young, in October 1960 and makes the claim that Jack Good resented Cliff for not wanting to appear on Boy Meets Girl. Although Good suggests to Melody Maker before the first show that Cliff wanted too much money "He wanted more money than we could afford to pay. Maybe later on we will be able to meet his terms."


By late October the first evidence that something was wrong was when the show was dropped by TWW in favour of the imported from America Nat King Cole Show. ABC Programme Controller told Melody Maker "The dropping of 'Boy Meets Girls' only applies to the TWW area and not to the rest of the country. The show has not flopped. It just happens that TWW wanted to do something different."


In mid-November 1959 the show had been given the front cover of the TV Times, suggesting that maybe the show needed an extra promotional push.


Halfway through the run director Gillespie left the show to be replaced by Ben Churchill who had previously worked on ABC's Sunday Break. The house band was reduced in size leaving guitarists Eric Ford and Joe Baker, drummer Andy White, saxophonist Red Price, plus Cherry Wainer and Don Storer and a new bassist. The most drastic change was that the audience was to be removed while a new set design was also employed.


The rock and roll quota was toned down after the change and more ballads introduced, but Jack Good avowed to reverse the decision before the show was cancelled. Marty Wilde couldn't commit to any more shows from April onwards so Good proposed a new show and format, Wham! It was during the show's run that Marty Wilde proposed to one of The Vernon's Girls, Joyce Baker.


The surprise success of the BBC's Juke Box Jury sees it go head to head with Boy Meets Girls.


In September 1960 Jack Good tells readers of Disc that the tapes of the show have already been destroyed "because of the high cost of storage", however ABC engineer Ron Parker had made high quality audio recordings, several of which have been released by United Artists and Rockstar Records.


BOY MEETS GIRLS


ABC

12th September 1959 - 5th March 1960