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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

The demise of Discs-A-Gogo left a hole in the TWW schedules but creating a look-a-like show wouldn't make any sense, so it was decided that a music and comedy show aimed at the early evening audience would suit the bill.

Michael Palin had been hired as the resident comic, performing in filmed silent sketches which were inserted between the pop acts, while Wendy Varnals (later to co-host A Whole Scene Going) would be the studio host introducing the acts and offering comment on whatever the new scene was that week. Journalist Michael Wale co-created the show with fellow writer Joe Steeples. Wale would later go on to write for Tony Hancock's Australian series in 1968 and become a Radio One presenter in the early 1970s.

Talking to The Independent in 2008 Palin recalled that an impersonation of the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson helped land him the job. Talking about staging the show "It was very cumbersome, with four presenters and two or three groups who had to be got on and off the small stage. Top of the Pops could have three or four big names but we could afford only one and had to take whatever we could get for virtually nothing." Palin also had the unenviable job of trying to balance his hosting duties with his wedding, leading to a two day honeymoon between shooting commitments.

Bryan Michie, programme controller at TWW described the show as an experiment. Talking to The Stage said "we will continue to change and shape the programme according to viewer reaction. We are definitely abandoning the all-pop show to give a wider view of young people today, who have changed since the first days of beat music and beatniks".

Among the many acts who made the effort to go down to Bristol to do the show were Manfred Mann, Tom Jones, The Animals, Yardbirds and from America Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles, Doris Troy and Lee Dorsey.

In February 1966 TWW moved the show from Wednesday evening to Friday evening, having already dropped Ready Steady Go from its schedules.

The 1st July 1966 show featured ten local bands hoping to win the Popportunity Now contest. Producer Chris Mercer went through all 153 entries, calling in 26 of them for audition before whittling them down to ten for the broadcast. Tom Jones and Spencer Davis were among the judges.

Despite its success it was announced in mid July 1966 that the show would come to an end almost immediately. Bryan Michie claims "The pop scene is changing this year and our next teenage programme might have to be a different type of show. We will study the position this autumn". Their response would be Herd at the Scene in September 1966.

Although it's thought that none of the original full shows exist several of Palin's filmed inserts exist in the ITV archive.



22nd December 1965 - 15th July 1966