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Popular Music on British Television

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Rediffusion 26th December 1967 - 28th March 1968
Thames 19th February 1969 - 14th May 1969

Humphrey Barclay producer of radio's I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again was given the opportunity to assemble a comedy team for his first television venture. Surprisingly, this would be a show aimed at children and broadcast at tea-time.

Barclay knew writer-performers Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin from University, Denise Coffey was spotted at an Edinburgh Festival production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, David Jason came from a production of Simple Spymen on Bournemouth Pier, while The Bonzos came via a flyer their manager had sent. Their debut LP Gorilla had broken through a few months' earlier.

A pilot show was recorded on 6th November 1967, was viewed as a success and the series was commissioned. The first show "Do Not Adjust Your Set, Or A Happy Boxing Day And A Preposterous New Year" was broadcast on ITV on 26th December, the very same evening that the Bonzos were guests on BBC1's Magical Mystery Tour. However due to a technical error the first show was shown without the expected advert break, so a three minute gap was eventually followed by the ads, shortening the show by three minutes. To make matters worse, some areas saw the second edition of the show by mistake.

On Thursday 4th January 1968 the series kicked off properly and became an immediate favourite, not only with kids but adults coming home from work. David Jason and Denise Coffey were given their own weekly in-show serial "Captain Fantastic" in which our super hero outwits villainess Mrs Black. Captain Fantastic would continue as an insert in children's magazine show Magpie when DNAYS finished, and would inspire the title for Elton John and Bernie Taupin's 1975 autobiographical album.

Proving the show's popularity the troupe were given the front cover of the TV Times, week beginning 17th February 1968.

The show was entered into a prestigious TV competition and this was celebrated with a one-off repeat, named "Special winner of Fairly Pointless Show of Prix Jeunesse, Munich," broadcast on the last day of transmission by Rediffusion, the show's original broadcaster.

The success of the show was not lost on Rediffusion's successor, Thames Television as they re-commissioned the show for a second series, beginning with a Christmas day 1968 special "Do Not Adjust Your Stocking."

The team re-assembled for the new series which began 19th February 1969, but this time animator Terry Gilliam who had contributed to a few sketches in the first series and had an animation piece in the Christmas show was now permanent. If there was a temptation to move to series to a post tea-time slot to attract more adults then it seems to have been resisted as it played at 5.20 - 5.50 pm. This time around the band had reduced their name to The Bonzo Dog Band and would go on to release Tadpoles, an album of songs from the series.

The show would not make it to a third series. Idle, Palin, Jones and Gilliam made their way to Monty Python, Jason and Coffey would later co-star in children's show Two D's and a Dog, while the Bonzos would split shortly after.