TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

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10th December 1969 to 17th December 1974

From TV Times “Ayshea, hostess of the popular Discotheque show, and Graham Bonney are the resident hosts in this new swingalong series. Each week Lift Off features favourite recording artists and newcomers to the disc scene. Graham Bonney sings top pops and a request number and the backing is the super sound of the resident group, The Pattern. And adding their own exciting interpretations of the numbers are resident guests The Ken Martyne Dancers.”

Hosted by actress/singer Ayshea Brough and ‘Wondergirl’ hit-maker Graham Bonney Lift Off was the tea time pop show to see us through to the mid-seventies. A few acts would perform in the studio, while host Ayshea would usually sing one song herself and the dance troupe would be used for one or two numbers.

Each week they would feature one act which has not been signed by a record company. As Producer Muriel Young explained to the Daily Mirror at the beginning of the second series, “There are a lot of fine young musicians and singers who could hit the top if only they knew how to go about it. We hope to give them the opportunity”.

By the second series Ayshea had the hosting duties to herself, and the live audience has now gone, but she now had company in the shape of ex-Five O’Clock Club regular Olly Beak (voiced by Wally Whyton). The Ken Martyne Dancers would be replaced by The Feet who in turn gave way to ZigZag.

At the start of the third series in 1971 Muirel Young asked the viewers what they’d like to see and after wading through 4000 letters the answer came back “mostly oldies. Pop singers like Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, and old film favourites such as Summer Holiday and The Sound of Music.” These requests would be granted with musical number clips from popular movies.

By the beginning of the new series in April 1972 the title had changed to Lift Off With Ayshea.

Notable shows included 30th December 1970 when Sweet promoted ‘Funny Funny’ kicking off the pop end of the glam era, while 21st June 1972 David Bowie introduced ‘Starman’ to the world, a few weeks ahead of the more famous Top of the Pops clip.

The show featured pretty much all the great glam acts of the era, but sadly only three shows are thought to exist, alongside a few isolated clips. Talking to the Sunday Express in December 2016 about the archive wiping she said “I couldn’t believe it when I found out. Apparently Granada TV was transferring them to digital and instead of getting rid of the three tapes that were repeats, they ditched the 141 originals. It’s heartbreaking.”

“We had lots of fun. I presented a part of the show at a desk with the puppets Ollie Beak and Fred Barker and the crew would tie my shoelaces together or undo my dress zip and I’d then have to sing live.”