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Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

After his two month stint hosting ATV's London Palladium Show was over the station was sufficiently impressed to give the stand-up / compere his own show, giving him the recently temporarily vacated late night Sunday spot of another Irishman Eamonn Andrews.


Hosting his own show wouldn’t have been much of a stretch for Allen, having returned from Australia where he hosted his own evening show, also called Tonight With Dave Allen in 1963.


The show took a different route to all the came before it, no guests on the plugging trail, just people who have a strange talent or story to tell. But like most shows there would be a guest singer or group each week. Thankfully Allen’s show was different from Andrews, Dee and the others, talking straight to the audience in the studio rather than the audience watching at home, more like a theatrical performance.


Although he wrote his own material Beyond Our Ken script writer Eric Merriman was also on hand. Ahead of the first show the producers had, according to TV Times "Advertised for strange acts. They asked for 'man eating bumble bees and performing sharks'."


Notable shows included one in August 1967 when a python gets loose in the studio, while in another edition he decided on a potentially fatal demonstration of public safety by getting into a mini which was then winched into a large water tank to show people the best way to exit a submerged car without drowning.


Although he never attracted the same calibre of pop act that Eamonn Andrews did he introduced the likes of Lulu, Paul Jones, The Dubliners among others.


ITV must have been happy with the show as he was given the coveted front cover of the TV Times in July. Talking to the magazine in August 1967 Allen claims "I didn't want the show to start with a great fanfare of trumpets. It takes time for a show like this to gain shape, character." "I see the programme as a kind of newspaper. Picking up anything that is interesting and investigating, probing. Okay, so maybe we get a crank or two. I love cranks. Life needs them. Otherwise everything becomes regimented, a great grey mass and awful." The public were also happy as he was awarded ITV's Personality of 1967.


After a ridiculous power play between Lew Grade's ATV and ITV network's desire to have David Frost front a late night show the decision was made to swap Allen for Frost, something that Allen wouldn't accept. ABC's The Eamonn Andrews Show was due to return from its summer break, so Allen would have to make way in the network schedules anyway. He returned with a new series of Tonight With in 1968, into 1969, but by this time Allen had re-connected with the BBC. Allen had previously appeared weekly on BBC1's Val Doonican Show, but this time he would be given his own comedy special on BBC2 in June 1968. It would be his comedy shows for BBC2 that people rightly remember him for.



TONIGHT WITH DAVE ALLEN


ATV

9th July 1967 - 1st October 1967, 23rd December 1967

29th September 1968 - 29th December 1968