ABC's Top Numbers had proved successful, despite its frivolous attitude towards the visual presentation of the songs. But the time had come to replace it.
After Jack Good’s exit from the BBC after an alleged contract infringement over The
Advertised in the TV Times as “an explosion of beat music”, the show was broadcast
live from The Empire Theatre, Hackney in London with a very loud, animated audience
compared to the polite, respectful, well-
Two of the early regulars on the show Neville Taylor and Kerry Martin were quickly signed to Parlophone Records who would also go on to release the Oh Boy! album.
The show was also a hit with the public. The TAM rating (which took the percentage
of homes that could view the show and do so for more than six minutes) constantly
increased throughout the latter part of 1958 leading to a 51 share when Tommy Steele
appeared on the show in November. In real numbers this was over seven million people,
taking three quarters of The Six-
ABC, together with local newspapers organise trains to get kids down to the studio in London and as a bonus they get to meet their idols backstage before transmission.
In March 1959 Jack Good announces "Oh Boy is now being filmed weekly for later transmission in the United States". This suggests that nothing was being kept in the archives beforehand. But more importantly this is the first time that UK rock and roll music is sent in the other direction. Since there would be a gap of several weeks between the UK and US transmission Good has to be careful in choosing American songs for his singers for fear of sounding out of date by the time the show reaches America. The songs now chosen would have to be a mixture of brand new American songs going up the chart there and British songs.
Sometime in April 1959 a strange memo from Good appeared on the desks of many of
the senior staff of the show. (Oh Boy! was) "the most imitated show on television.
It is therefore of the utmost importance to both artists and production staff that
everything to do with the show becomes strictly confidential. Remember spies are
By April 1959 the show was holding its own as far as rating were concerned, unlike
Despite the show’s obvious appeal and success it only ran for one series. This was unknown at the time of the final show as a new series was mentioned and in May 1959 Jack Good flew to America to sign some American talent to appear on the next series of Oh Boy! due to begin in September with Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackie Wilson and The Coasters among the acts he wanted to book. The BBC had tried to emulate and retaliate with Dig This! and Drumbeat on a Saturday evening, but failed. Since the BBC were copying the format Good was preparing his next move. A new series was expected and announced by Ron Rowson, programme controller of ABC in March and scheduled to begin 12th September 1959, but it never appeared. An article in the New Musical Express 8th May 1959 put the return date as 19th September, with Cliff Richard tentatively booked. It was possible that Lord Rockingham's XI would not return for the new series, so Bill Shepherd might have become the new musical director. In August 1959 an ABC representative said "It's definitely on!" Rowson, talking to the New Musical Express, said "When the programme returns in the autumn, it will not be in its present form and will probably even have changed its title. It will be as different from the present presentation as Oh Boy! was from 6.5 Special".
Good however was moving on to another project, the Marty Wilde vehicle Boy Meets Girls for ABC. ABC had plans to vacate the theatre in London and move to Manchester which also didn't meet with Good's approval. The show had an unexpected new lease of life in the summer of 1959 when the American ABC network bought the series as a summer replacement show. Brenda Lee, a previous guest on the UK show, was employed to film new introductions. The NME claimed that it was proposed that the new version of Oh Boy! would also be shown in the USA, as a part of the Dick Clark Show. Good had made a contact with America and was to America that he brought back the Oh Boy! format in the shape of ABC's Shindig! in 1964. Good made a return to Britain in 1968 with a reunion show, while a fully fledged revival came about in 1978 on ATV, followed by Let’s Rock! in 1981, making a star of Shakin' Stevens in the process.
Good later tells Disc magazine in June 1960 that he had been offered the chance to produce an Oh Boy styled show for German television.
For further information about this classic show go to the Oh Boy! Website.