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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

A comedy and music series created around the annoyingly frantic Freddie and The Dreamers, or "certain English leaping gentlemen" as Keith Richards once described them.

Alongside the resident group there would be vaudeville acts, comics, magicians and animal acts. Producer Angus Wright wanted to make the show wholly professional, not relying on new or amateur talent, searching up and down the country for the best talent available. Talking to The Stage just before the pilot show Wright said "Speed, novelty and surprise are the ingredients we're looking for. There are an enormous number of talented people who are never seen on television because there aren't enough outlets for this type of entertainment".

A series of thirteen was commissioned after the successful pilot show in March 1968, recorded at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton to an audience of 500. Wright said before the pilot "By using a theatre of this sort we are hoping to engender the kind of rapport between performers and audience that characterised the heyday of pantomime". It was the nearest ITV would come to the well established format of BBC's Crackerjack, with adults plainly acting silly for the kids, leaving both in hysterics. Garrity seemed resigned to his now chart-free career. Talking to Disc he said "We are not making hit records anymore and I had to decide where to go from there."

The show proved successful and British songwriters Mitch Murray and Peter Callendar wrote a new song for Freddie, named after the show, and released as a single in November 1968. Murray had written several of Freddie's early Columbia hits.

The next series would have been broadcast in autumn 1969 and would have been Southern TV's first colour production, but it was delayed. In February 1970 the new thirteen-part series incorporated a show-within-a-show Oliver in the Overworld, a story which saw Freddie and Oliver, his trusty grandfather clock trapped in a world with other strange, but friendly and peculiarly animated inanimate objects. The songs were written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood who provided the show's international hit Gimme Dat Ding, which Roger Cook and Albert Hammond released as The Pipkins, denying Freddie and Co of a much needed hit.

It was followed in 1971 by Oliver in the Underworld, but this time Freddie meets less friendly characters, proving a little scary for some of the audience. But no fear, there was always Freddie's Joke Hall.

The show bowed out with a fifty minute special on Boxing Day 1973 with the producers promising the return of some familiar faces. It came back 12th June 1974 for the first show of its final series. It was the idea of Freddie to turn each of the thirteen shows of the final series into a mini-musical. Mitch Murray and Peter Callendar were back to write all the songs, including a re-worked Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde, previously a hit for Georgie Fame. The two writers had their own record company, Bus Stop Records which had recently had Opportunity Knocks' winners Paper Lace at number one in the UK with Billy Don't Be A Hero. Garrity would himself release one of the show's songs, Hello Kids as a single on Bus Stop. Garrity told the TV Times "Having captured two of Britain's top pop composers to write tailor-made songs for our plots, we believe we have established a brand new trend in television."

Little Big Time had a long shelf life, six years, much longer than most people remember. Children loved the series, I loved the series and despite the wiping of all the original shows, about ten minutes of colour film footage still exists, probably made as a promotional reel for the show's potential export and narrated by DJ Dave Cash. Three tie-in albums were also issued.

What started as a vehicle to promote a pop group past their sell by date had in the end become a much loved and much missed relic.



30th October 1968 - 25th September 1974