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Popular Music on British Television

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NEEDLE MATCH

Associated Rediffusion
15th June 1962 - 11th September 1962

Associated Rediffusion got into the disk judging business a little late in the game. Juke Box Jury, Dad You’re A Square and Spin-A-Disc had provided popular, but pretty much everyone recognised what a cheap format this was, so Producer Elkin Allan decided to give it a new spin.

Each week a selection of eleven members of the audience all from overseas would vote on two records, one British, one American. They would wave flags if they liked the disc. The minion given the job of collating the votes was David Frost, just a few months ahead of hosting the ground-breaking That Was The Week That Was.

The first pilot was made in late May, with a second pilot shot on 31st May 1962 to decide on the host, with Keith Fordyce chosen.

As TV Times put it “The big fight in the music world is between British discs and the American invaders. Now you can judge the state of the battle in this exciting programme which has the fun of a new game plus the thrill of dazzling dancing plus a first chance to hear the new record releases.”

Each record will be danced to by team of dancers directed by Malcolm Clare, with the British records introduced by Oliver Reed (later replaced by Wally Whyton) and the American ones by Canadian David Gell. Keith Fordyce would be the referee and Caterine Millinair would play International Jury Judge.

Even though no artists performed on the show each week a guest artist would turn up to offer opinion on the new releases. There was also a home audience participation section where excerpts from two records were played anonymously and the audience were asked to vote on either 'X' or 'Z'.

The six records chosen each week would play against each musical type, ballad against ballad, jazz against jazz etc.

The show proved unpopular, according to a later review in the Daily Mirror there were many viewer complaints about the show. The Stage review of the first show complained "the disc programme was not only ragged and under-rehearsed, but involved so many people that it was almost impossible to keep track of who-did-what-and-why".

This confused, confusing, over-populated show would only last three months.