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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999


This was one of the first shows where a singer was pushed out in front with their name in the title, to be followed later in the sixties by Cilla, Dusty, Scott, Lulu, Cliff etc.


Kirby had been a band singer until given a solo recording contract first by Pye, then by Decca with whom she had several big hits in the early to mid-sixties.


BBC TV producer Ernest Maxin had asked his boss Tom Sloan about this singer he'd seen on Stars and Garters. It was Maxim's idea to turn her into a female Sinatra, rather than of just another woman singer. Peter Gordeno had been hired as the choreographer, dresses and gowns were commissioned, the songs were chosen. It provided the template for all the singer shows to come.


After a couple of one-off shows in 1964 she was finally given a series of her own with a supporting cast of comic actors, The George Mitchell Singers, and an orchestra sometimes led by David McCallum. Show designer Melvin Cornish would later go onto produce Top of the Pops in the seventies, while producer Ernest Maxim would become an important part of the team behind Morecambe and Wise later in the sixties. The weekly guests were the usual gang of singers of the time Billy Fury, Tom Jones, Adam Faith, Val Doonican etc.


The 29th January 1965 show was a Eurovision special where Kirby, chosen to represent Britain in that year's competition, sang six songs written by Chris Andrews, Tony Hatch, Tom Springfield, Peter Lee Stirling, Les Reed, Leslie Bricuse, with Stirling's I Belong winning the UK leg and second overall on Eurovision night.


In early 1966 Kirby's manager and lover Bert Ambrose had done a new deal with ITV without telling her. It wasn't until she had recorded the final BBC show when Bill Cotton told her how much he'd miss her that the penny dropped. ATV's Here Comes Kathy debuted in February 1967, a couple of years after her chart run was over, but it didn't turn into a series.


Like Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black and Sandie Shaw her TV appearances continued into the early seventies, despite the lack of hits, but unlike the others there would be no comeback for her. It was during her recording of Les Dawson's Sez Les in 1971 that Ambrose collapsed and later died.



THE KATHY KIRBY SHOW


BBC1

3rd May 1964, 4th August 1964, 16th October 1964 - 12th February 1966