Having moved from Ireland to the UK in the early fifties to further his singing career it would take nearly seven years for Val Doonican to make his TV debut. When he did it was as a regular on BBC's Beauty Box, starting 21st May 1957. He would have to wait another six years until he would appear again, but this time he had a Decca record contract behind him. His second single, a cover version of Hank Williams' Kaw Liga saw him bag a spot on Thank Your Lucky Stars in August 1963, and then on BBC2's The 625 Show later in the month and Make A Note in October 1963.
His next gig would be his biggest so far, an invite onto Sunday Night At The London Palladium in May 1964, but instead of plugging a new 45 (their wasn't one) he sang Anthony Newley's Do You Mind impersonating British pop stars. He was invited back to the Palladium in June, and became a series regular on BBC's Singalong Saturday about the same time. There would be many other appearances for Val on shows like Barn Dance and Open House before his first British hit Walk Tall, the song that took him onto Top Of The Pops on 19th November 1964.
His relaxed and easy style would find a welcome home on many shows throughout this
career, but the best place to find him would be at home in his own series. After
having to wait around for years the mid sixties found him a regular face on British
TV, appearing on comedy, light entertainment and music shows, showing a natural talent
for all of them. It was just a matter of time before the BBC or ITV would offer him
his own show and the Beeb got there first. The first Date With Doonican was broadcast
22nd February 1965 with regular singing support from The Ladybirds and The Go-
His second series of the year The Val Doonican show kicked off with a one-
The third series which began 7th October 1967 kicked off with Cliff Richard, then
Sandie Shaw, Vikki Carr, The Shadows, The Alan Price Set among others, and it was
during this series that he performed at his first Royal Variety Performance. His
fourth series beginning 25th August 1968 saw him play host to Matt Monro and a few
others, but pretty much all MOR. Apart from a one-
His first show for "the other side" was broadcast on 18th November 1970, however
this was not a full series, there were just a couple of shows leading up to the beginning
of the first series proper on 17th April 1971. ATV had sold the show to ABC in the
USA and two American script-
By May 1975 Val was back at the BBC. For his first show for the BBC in several years
producer John Ammons wanted Val to lose the sweaters and rocking chair in favour
of sharp suits and shiny shoes. The reinvention was wrong and was actually un-
In 1985 he hosts the last of the regular Val Doonican Shows, while in 1989 Val Doonican's Homeward Bound becomes his last series overall.