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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

From Daily Mirror

DONOVAN, the 19-year-old folk singer, gets a programme to himself on ITV tonight ("A Boy Called Donovan," 9.40). But it's not the sort of programme you might expect- Elkan Allan, who used to look after light entertainment for Rediffusion, had the idea of projecting Donovan in a semi-documentary story. In his new post as executive producer for special projects, he put the suggestion to director Charlie Squires. "Frankly Charlie wasn't very keen, but he agreed to meet Donovan and after he had met him he was sufficiently impressed to go ahead with the film." Originally planned as a forty five minutes production, the material proved of such interest that Rediffusion have given it an hour. The programme traces Donovan's early days as a wandering singer. There is no commentary - just his singing and some of his poems. We filmed Donovan in Portobello Market" says director Squires. "We show him shopping in Carnaby Street and at a sale of veteran cars. Wherever we went friend Gypsy Dave came along too. The two boys met on the road and have been together ever since."

Filming took place in October 1965 with the intention of showing it before the end of the year. The show was given the ultimate honour of being given the colour front cover of that weeks' TV Times, and talking about the show in the accompanying article Donovan said "This television show is a sort of screen test for me. A three-dimensional relief the public hasn't seen before." One of the best remembered scenes shows Donovan rehearsing at Ready Steady Go with the Sir Douglas Quintet looking on, bemused or worried.

Unfortunately for Donovan a scene where his friends were seen smoking pot caught the attention of the later discredited drugs squad officer Norman Pilcher. On the 16th June 1966 ITN ran a story about Donovan's drug bust at his flat on the Edgware Road in London. Pilcher was a complex man who wished to make a very public example of these long-haired reprobates, but at the same time seemingly attracted to, and jealous of, them and their fame. After many notorious, and legally dubious, rock star arrests Pilcher received a four year prison sentence in 1973 for perjury. He was given his own World in Action report the same year, finally getting the fame he craved.

The show had been given two working titles 'The Man Donovan' and 'Donovan - The Story of His Life And Times', while the show was due to feature Cops N Robbers, a group who were friends of Donovan and also recorded for Pye.

Although the show has never been repeated there is now some hope that BMG might make it available on disc at some point.



19th January 1966