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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

"The following programme contains...naughty bits..."


Thames Television had decided to retire the failing talent show Opportunity Knocks amid persistent rumours of vote rigging and to avoid any further potential scandal involving its host Hughie Green. The drama parlour game Whodunnit filled the gap until a new replacement could be found. Luckily for Thames they wouldn’t have to go far to find it.


Everett hadn't been seen on television in some time. His voice-over job on weekly game show Celebrity Squares in the mid-seventies was the only show to give him any kind of regular credit. His Nice Time, Kenny Everett Explosion, Ev and Top Of The Pops appearances were well behind him and his radio career in the seventies had veered franticly from the national BBC channels, to BBC local radio, to national radio again, and then to one of the new commercial radio stations, Capital. Luck was on Thames’ side for once as Capital was located next door to Thames's Euston Road studios.


Famous for his imaginative use of audio gimmickry he would be well suited to the visual side of pop as new camera and computer trickery was just being introduced by companies like Quantel and Reilly which would allow images to re-size, spin, flip and do anything the producers desired.


The show would be directed by ex-Shindig director David Mallet and together they used cameras, props and sets in a way the audience hadn't really seen before, while gags were provided by Ray Cameron (McIntyre), Barry Cryer, Dick Vosburgh (for the first series) and Everett himself. Whether it was a gesture of faith or mere convenience but Thames had given Everett Hughie Green's former dressing room and office.


Everett wouldn't just be there to link pop videos and special guests, he would create characters and perform to a small audience of cameramen, floor managers and make up girls. For the first series we met Sid Snot, the baby in the pram, Spod, 'Mary Whitehouse', Wonder Tart, Angry of Mayfair and Dick Thrust. In addition, Cosgrave-Hall Productions would supply a weekly three minute cartoon version of his Capital Radio space hero Captain Kremmen.


Director Mallet told the Daily Mirror at the time of the show's launch "For the last four months the whole of Thames Television has been contributing ideas. Even cameramen come onto the floor with a joke and that doesn't happen often. It is all written as we go. We don't have an audience. The laughter you hear is all the other people working on the show." No-one was used to seeing the host make mistakes, take after take after take, all of which would be kept in the show for the public's amusement. Everett himself complained to Music Week "TV is sane and predicable at the moment, and we want a show that is ad- libbed, full of mistakes even."


Philip Jenkinson who had found film clips for The Kenny Everett Explosion was given the same job this time around, finding wacky adverts and short cartoons.


Everett’s use of tame smut would be enhanced by sexy dance troupe Arlene Phillips' Hot Gossip, whose weekly "naughty bit" guaranteed the show an audience of young boys and their dads who still yearned for Pan's People on Top Of The Pops. Hot Gossip were not new to TV however, having appeared on BBC1’s David Essex show a year before. As a result of the success of the show Everett had now become hot property and would crop up in several editions of Bruce Forsyth's Big Night Out for London Weekend later in the year. More success came the following year when the show won Best Light Entertainment Programme at the BAFTAs, while the 1979 New Year special The Didn’t Quite Make It In Time For Christmas Show became ITV’s entry for the Montreaux Television Festival.


That special and the second series featured in its opening credit sequence the Maori chant used by Quantum Jump in their disco hit The Lone Ranger, while the show introduced new characters Marcel Wave, Brother Lee Love and Serge Suit, while Angry of Mayfair whose half businessman / half bra and panties costume led to a now legendary encounter with David Bowie. As a fan of the show he would return with a specially made clip of Space Oddity '80. Between the second and third series Everett would also become a regular on BBC1's Blankety Blank, keeping his options open should the Thames TV gig go south.


Everett wanted to call the 1979 New Years' Eve special "The Show That Saved You From Andy Stewart", but Thames said "no". The Will Kenny Everett Make It To 1980 Show? would be followed by the third series in 1980, however, Thames producer Philip Jones told the Daily Mirror that the next series may be in a different format “we are planning to increase the comedy content and the show will probably go to a later time.” Everett gave up his Capital Radilo show in order to concentrate on the upcoming series, but still continued to record episodes of Captain Kremmen for Mike Smith's breakfast show on the station. The third series saw Kremmen of the Star Coprs and several of the characters return, but five of the original six Hot Gossip would be replaced. As Kenny said in the introduction to the first show "we've got rid of all the old lumpy bits, and put in fresh lumpy bits." The new characters included the Scotsman who appeared on the previous new year's eve show, Billy Banter (a Bernard Manning type offensive comedian) and a computer sidekick, Tharg. The record industry gave up some of their best for the show, Elvis Costello, Pete Townshend, The Boomtown Rats, Cliff Richard, Gary Numan, The Pretenders and The Police among others.


Another New Year's Eve show in 1980 proceeded the new series and the promised changes were immediately evident, even down to the use of The Kenny Everett Video Cassette name after the ad break. Another major change was the departure of David Mallet, replaced by Royton Mayoh who had previously worked on Opportunity Knocks. For this series there would only be one guest music act per show, while Hot Gossip danced to their own recordings (they had a recording career of their own, as did Everett). A new quiz show Star Quiz was introduced and veered off into Tiswas territory by using a gunge tank (although something similar had been used in the first series). Also the cartoon version of Captain Kremmen was ditched in favour of a live action version featuring Everett and actress Anna Dawson playing Carla. Dawson had to wear a special bust-enhancing costume for the role, and as she told the Daily Mirror "Kenny tried to break eggs on my bust - but they wouldn't crack." New characters like 'Prince Charles' and a policeman were introduced, but the changes wouldn't be enough to save the show as Thames had decided to schedule it in direct competition to Top of the Pops on a Thursday evening and subsequently it died a quiet death.


Despondent, Everett moved to the BBC where his Kenny Everett Television Show debuted at Christmas 1981.


A four DVD set of edited highlights was released by Network in 2018.



THE KENNY EVERETT VIDEO SHOW / CASSETTE


Thames
3rd July 1978 - 21st May 1981