Gadzooks was produced by Barry Langford and intended as a replacement for The Beat
Room which had run for seven months in the early days of BBC2.
Talking to Record Mirror in January 1965 Langford said "I've always had this feeling
that pop entertainers can do more than just make hit records and in this show, which
will run for thirty minutes, they will appear in sketches, comedy routines, and dances.
Two-thirds of the programme will be live, and a third mimed to discs." He also told
the NME "There will be no set format, and the show will depend largely on lighting
and direction. It will include gospel, folk, ballads, blues, r-and-b and rock."
Show regulars were hosts Alan David and singer Christine Holmes, organist Peter Cook(e)
(from Wayne Gibson's Dynamic Sounds), a six-piece dance group The Beat Girls (a leftover
from the show it replaced), Liverpool singing group The Three Bells, The Mike Leander
Combo, later replaced by Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc and the seemingly inappropriate
Countrymen. The show's name is likely to originate from The Beat Girls' Zooks Barrow.
According to Record Mirror "Each weekly programme, which will be televised from 7.00
until 7.30 p.m. will be presented live from the BBC's Television Theatre at Shepherds
Bush, with a dancing audience of 40 and a seated audience of 450." However, BBC2
was still not a national station by this time, so viewing figures were low.
In March 1965 Radio Times promoted the show with an article about a new group Davie
Jones and The Mannish Boys. Producer Langford claiming "I am waiting to hear the
new releases before I engage the artists. The scene is changing so fast that some
of the guests will come as a complete surprise."
The show's original six week run would be extended from March 22nd onwards, with
a team of regulars - Alex Harvey's Blues Incorporated, The Countrymen, The Three
Bells, Alan David, Christine Holmes, The Beat Girls, Peter Cooke. Talking to the
NME Barry Langford explained "We plan to make the show a sort of British-style 'Grand
Ole Opry,' concentrating on gospel, folk and c-and-w."
By May 1965 producer Langford changed the title as well as format, taking it along
the MOR path by employing Marianne Faithfull who would sing a folk song each week
backed by John Renborne and John Mark, while Rog(er) Whittaker also becomes a regular,
as well as The Cuddle Pups. A piece in The Stage claimed the show "starring Alan
David and Lulu, will feature The Beat Girls, Peter Cooke, The Three Bells and John
Renbourne. The resident band will be The Luvvers Plus Five. Marianne Faithfull will
have a folk spot each week". Promoting the show ahead of it's first re-launch producer
Barry Langford said "This is going to be a pop revue with comedy, sketches and some
fresh ideas. I am introducing The Cuddle Pups, six new show girls with no previous
experience. One I met on a train. Another I saw in a hotel". The first of the new
series included a poetry spot. Talking to the Radio Times Langford explains "Gadzooks
was scheduled for six weeks and it ran for thirteen. We feel we've got to change
and it's now going to have the old revue format. We're broadening our scope - to
include comedy, and I wouldn't even be adverse to some poetry reading." Gadzooks
It's The In Crowd will also now have a new talent spot. Barry Langford told Disc
magazine "If any youngsters from, say 15 to 22 have a real talent for anything -
acting, reading poetry, or what you like - I shall be willing to consider them for
the series." Talking to Record Mirror about dropping some pop acts in favour of comedy
Langford claimed "I'm going off the idea of just putting on one pop song after another.
I think there's more talent among the youngsters than ever before. It just needs
bringing up properly. A 1970 show with the up-to-the-minute ideas. There will be
nothing dated on the show at all."
Dance troupe The Beat Girls - Ann, Babs, Jenny, Lynn, Ruth and Zooks were all classically
trained dancers, several of whom would later go on to become the basis of Pan's People
who appeared on various shows on British and German television before their regular
gig on Top Of The Pops from 1968 to 1976. For Gadzooks they were choreographed by
American Gary Cockrell.
In July the series’ name had been shortened to Gadzoooks! by its new producer Stewart
Morris who decided to do away with any linking clips. Talking to The Stage in July
1965 he said "This will be a straight, hard pop show, as fast as we can make it,
and there should normally be no need for any miming". Lulu will be the resident singer
together with a twenty piece orchestra, conducted by Les Reed. The weekly folk song
spot however will remain. The Beat Girls and The Three Bells will also remain, This
also marks one of the first shows to be directed by Terry/Terrence Hughes, later
to work on The Two Ronnies before leaving for America to direct The Golden Girls
and Friends among others.
By September another new producer Nick Burrell-Davis was hired to take the series
to it’s conclusion. The Beat Girls next job would be on Dutch TV's Hoofdstuk VI in
1966. In a schedule shuffle in September 1965 BBC2 would now open at 7.30 pm from
Monday to Friday with educational programming, with the general service beginning
at 8.00 pm. A BBC spokesman told the NME "It's not a case of 'Gadzooks' being dropped
to make way for educational programmes. The show started as 'Beat Room' more than
a year ago. It has had a good run and a new pop show is being planned."
A show which changed its format, as well as its name, several times within such a
short life span suggests the producers didn't now what to do with it.