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Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

Upset with the way he felt the BBC were treating him Simon Dee was snatched up by David Frost's London Weekend Television to present a late-night Sunday chat show signing a two year contract worth £100,000. It was agent turned TV station booker Tito Burns that had lured him to the station, only to regret it.


He was given the front cover of the TV Times for the first show, such was the expectation. "Stand by for more surprises, more star guests and more groovy sounds in another television happening" they claimed.


Eamonn Andrews had been the Sunday night chat king with his ABC show, but with the ITV regional re-organisation the seat had been vacant for over a year. Andrews' ABC show producer Bryan Izzard was assigned as producer/director and the fourteen-piece Maynard Ferguson orchestra were to be the resident band, while actresses The Spooner Twins (Judy and Tina) were to be regulars on the show. Dee was allowed to bring some of his BBC team with him, programme editor Joe Steeples, programme associate Patricia Houllihan and programme consultant Peter Noble, all for more money than the BBC could offer. The show would be broadcast live from London Weekend’s Wembley Studios, London, late Sunday night.


Izzard explained to the Daily Mirror "...if there are a lot of stars working at the Cinecitta Studios in Rome who we think are interesting and with something to say then we'd be prepared to send Simon there and do the whole show from Italy."


It was scheduled to run from 11.30 pm - 12.13 am directly after Frost on Sunday, but although most if not all of ITVs regional stations took the Frost show, not everyone would play Dee's show. The show was expected to be networked nationally, but this was not to be as Yorkshire, Westward, Channel and Grampian didn't show it.


If the show would be remembered for anything it would be George Lazenby's appearance in February to talk about his first and only Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Instead of playing the dependable guest and fulfilling his duty to promote the movie that made him an international star, he appeared to be stoned and rambled conspiracy theories regarding the death of President Kennedy, receiving positive acknowledgement of the show’s other guests that evening, John and Yoko. Provoking more controversy Dee would suggest that the FBI or similar authority fugues were after him.


By mid-April the show had been moved forward a little in the schedules after the Frost show came to an end but all was lost. The credits for the show in the TV Times were getting shorter and shorter as the weeks went by, one of the last being "Simon chats to interesting guests."


Since the show was unwilling to announce guests in advance and no complete shows are thought to exist it's difficult to get any kind of guest list other than the recall of the few people who saw it, but musical guests over the weeks included Billy Eckstein, The Pentangle, Joe Brown and Jerry Butler. After London Weekend refused to have Matt Monro on as a guest Dee refused to turn up. Fearing a no-show the producer hired Pete Murray to host the show instead. Just before the show is about to go on air Dee turned up.


The show was dropped for two weeks in June to make way for the World Cup, but came back to fulfil it's obligation, but nothing else. By July 1970 it was all over. The show was due to run for 26 weeks, he was contracted to host a further 13 shows after the summer break, but London Weekend chose to pay him off instead at a cost of £7000. However, Dee insisted on being paid £75,000 due on the balance of his contract.


The first offer of employment came from his old Radio Caroline boss Ronan O'Rahilly who was about to launch Television Caroline on 1st July 1970, but the venture came to nothing. He was then offered a show at Radio Luxembourg, and then a BBC radio station outside London, but nothing happened. He had been offered a religious show on ATV, but demanded a telephone in his dressing room and to be paid in cash immediately after the show finished. The possibility of a new series for the BBC by the end of the year also came to nothing, despite his champion at the BBC Bill Cotton Jnr becoming the Head of Entertainment after the death of Tom Sloan, who had previously been happy to let Dee go. However, Derek Nimmo’s Saturday evening chat and music show had been a success, so any thought of Dee’s return had to be put to one side. By December he would be signing on at his local unemployment exchange.


In 2003 Victor Lewis-Smith persuaded Dee to host a new one-off new edition of Dee Time as a part of a documentary about the former star.


All that is thought to exist of the show is about thirty seconds of the beginning of one edition and about fifteen minutes of clips and audio.




THE SIMON DEE SHOW


LWT

18th January 1970 - 5th July 1970