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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

ITV's first serious attempt to fill in the sizable hole in their Saturday morning schedule.

The show started at around 9.55 am and had two hours plus to fill until World of Sport came along at 12.15 pm. Actress Sally James had been chosen to front the show which saw her interview glam rockers both major and minor in the Pop Scene section, while the remainder of the show saw her introducing recent episodes of The Partridge Family, repeats of Gerry Anderson shows, Tarzan, The Addams Family, Junior Police 5 and any promo clips that record companies chucked their way.

Talking to Music Week in 1978 she explained "They wanted someone with a lot of tv experience who would know about timing, editing on air, and so on. It was at first simply an announcing job, and we later tried to think of a way of expanding it to get more viewer involvement, and started getting requests and birthday messages, that sort of thing. Then we decided to invite pop guests on the programme. The first one was Gary Glitter. The idea took off, and my few minutes between the seven segments expanded to half an hour over the morning."

In the early days James had been given a presentation booth in the corner of the World Of Sport studio. "We used to go in and stick photos all over their board" she later claimed.

Many pop stars from the era stopped by for a live chat, even the biggest names like Slade, Marc Bolan, Queen and others found time for Sally who bravely found a way of translating their slang and euphemism for a much younger audience.

Writer and broadcaster Michael Wale was given a thirty minute segment of Saturday Scene called London Bridge, in which he would also interview visiting pop stars. Mike Smith, the producer of London Bridge, later took over the production of the whole of Saturday Scene. It was likely James herself had been the show's unofficial producer up to that point.

Spring 1975 sees the show take to the road with their own Roadshow, featuring Sally and visiting pop stars. At about the same time Sally was given her own weekly column, Sally's Scene in Disc.

In September 1975 Sally was given something more appropriate to introduce on a Saturday morning as London Weekend had commissioned Mike Mansfield's pop show Supersonic. It was to be the last hurrah for British glam and suited Saturday morning's perfectly. Later in November, Saturday Scene hosted the British Pop Awards featuring everyone from Linda Lewis to The Wombles.

In August 1976 Saturday Scene found room for Mansfield's short-lived Superpop '76 when Supersonic moved to a tea-time broadcast. Later in the year James' show was renamed Supersonic Saturday Scene as Mansfield's show returned to the morning shift, reverting back to Saturday Scene on 16th April 1977 once Supersonic had finished.

What the producers of the show were not aware of was the competition coming from ATVLand. Tiswas was not only slowly building an audience, but a reputation. However, it really needed was a woman co-host.

The 3rd September 1977 saw the end of Saturday Scene, bowing out with guests including Marc Bolan, Roger Taylor from Queen, Linda Lewis and others. London Weekend had decided to replace it with the new kids-hosted Our Show, but a transfer fee looked likely as Sally made her debut on Tiswas on the 10th September.

Philips Records released an album featuring clips from Sally's interviews in 1974 and also included a couple of songs which Sally had recorded with her producer husband Mike Smith.


London Weekend

20th October 1973 (pilot), 3rd November 1973 - 3rd September 1977