TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

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15th June 1958 - 30th May 1959

After Jack Good’s exit from the BBC after an alleged contract infringement over The Six-Five Special he found a new home at ITV’s midland and northern weekend franchise ABC Television. After a two week test run in the London area in June, the series went national on the 12th September 1958 positioned opposite The Six-Five Special from 6:30 to 7:00 pm which on the face of it must have pleased Good no end, but in reality the BBC’s show would have come to an inevitable conclusion sooner rather than later, leaving Oh Boy! to pick up the younger viewers who had left The Six-Five Special in droves.

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, well-tempered youngsters who attended The Six-Five Special broadcasts. Hosted by Jimmy Henney and Tony Hall, it was a live stage show and probably came as a shock to an older audience more used to appreciative applause at the end of each number rather than the continual screaming which the producers encouraged. The Musical Director was Harry Robinson who had selected a new group of mostly jazz musicians who became the house band, Lord Rockingham’s XI. Also resident were the girl group from Liverpool The Vernons Girls, along with a constant supply of Larry Parnes acts Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Duffy Power, Cuddly Duddly, Vince Eager, plus other acts like The Dallas Boys, Tony Sheridan and Cliff Richard whose national debut sparked considerable sales life into his first single, Move It. Unfortunately, the nursery rhyme lyrical approach to rock and roll offered by The Six Five Special continued here. The script was usually provided by Trevor Peacock, later a much-respected West End writer, author of hits songs for Joe Brown and co-star of the Vicar Of Dibley.

Despite the show’s obvious appeal and success it only ran for one series, despite the fact that on the final show 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! to begin in September with Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackie Wilson and The Coasters among the acts he wants to appear. The BBC had tried to emulate and retaliate with Dig This! 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 for September 1959, but never appeared with Good 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. 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.