TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

Home Intro Articles Credits Timeline Links 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s



DEE TIME

BBC1
4th April 1967 - 20th December 1969

A chat show with music hosted by ex-pirate DJ Simon Dee. BBC Light Entertainment executive Bill Cotton Jnr had bumped into Dee's agent Bunny Lewis at a broadcast of the satire show BBC-3 and had told him that he was getting requests for Dee to appear on children's TV. Lewis suggested that since Dee had proved himself on Top Of The Pops maybe he should be given a chance of hosting his own show. Together with Tom Sloan Cotton approached Michael Peacock, head of Light Entertainment who liked the idea of an early evening chat and music show.

Two pilots were recorded in Manchester, but the first was a disaster, so Cotton was brought in to re-organise, The second one proved more successful and the show was commissioned. In the meantime both Dee and his manager had been sent to New York to see how things were done there and pick up any tips they might need.

Dee Time was initially broadcast from BBC's Manchester studios, but later moved to London in the hope of attracting more international stars, just as Top Of The Pops had done the year before.

According to a BBC spokesman just ahead of the show's debut "It will cover the early evening scene for young people and many of the artists will be backed by the Northern Dance Orchestra".

The show itself had memorable opening and closing credit sequences with BBC sports announcer Len Martin giving Dee the the introductory "It's Siiiiimon Deeee", while Dee jumped into a sports car along side a 'dolly bird' for the closing credits. It was during the filming of this sequence that he injured himself.

The show must have impressed the BBC as it decided to extend the show's run beyond June 1967 when they had originally intended to rest it until the next intended series.

The twice weekly show was later condensed down to one show on a Saturday evening. However, the show's format quickly became unpopular with the music business as the show's producers decided they didn’t want artists turning up just to plug their new single and proceeded to provide alternate material for them. During one show in late 1967 British jazz trio The Peddlers and Brenda Lee both refused to perform the songs chosen for them by the producer and walked off.

Showing their continuing approval the BBC extended the show for a further three months in the summer of 1968.

The show didn't adhere to the usual operating manual, a fawning introduction, star walks on, plugs what they have to plug while trying to show a sense of humour, then thank you and goodnight. Dee was savvy and intuitive, he played the part of host but it was his party they were invited to, so wouldn't be bullied into ingratiating himself if he felt the plugee didn't deserve it. He would occasionally provoke argument inspired by the topic of whatever it was they were plugging if he felt it necessary. The format was considered successful enough to copy and ITV fought back with Good Evening I'm Jonathan King, also on Saturday evening. However, his agent Bunny Lewis claimed that a part of the show's success was that Dee was so sycophantic with Hollywood stars that he gave them an easy ride. Agents back in Hollywood requested that their stars would only do Dee's show, furthering Dee's opinion of himself. Despite the backstage problems television and movie stars were queuing up to appear on the show, but Dee's self-confidence took many of the stars by surprise. Dee knew that people were as likely to be tuning in for him as they were for the stars and his demands on the senior staff at the BBC would inevitable take their toll. At one point he demanded that he be given access to politicians to interview on the show, which was unheard of in 1969, although common now.

By 1969 Dee's excessive wage demands meant that an approach from ITV wouldn't be long in coming, and he quit the BBC in late 1969 having his show moved from Saturday evening to the lest prestigious Monday evening slot. The final BBC show was meant to be broadcast 27th December 1969 but the BBC decided to not bother.

His tenure at London Weekend was almost abstract in its nature.