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Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

In late October 1969 the BBC claimed to have dropped him, while Dee doubtless claimed that he'd left of his own free will, but either way a London Weekend Television spokesman told Melody Maker "Simon has known for some time that his contract with the BBC would not be renewed, and negotiations with us have been taking place for a couple of weeks. Dee's new shows will start in early January and will be at "peak time" - although we can't be tied down exactly."


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, the fourteen-piece Maynard Ferguson orchestra were to be the resident band, while actresses The Spooner Twins (Judy and Tina) were also 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 and not the "peak time" that London Weekend had previously claimed.


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." While Dee explained " With the BBC I was restricted to seven minutes an interview. This isn't long enough to talk to people who have something interesting to say. That's what we're after interesting people who would like to talk to me. Again, we're going to do much deeper research into people before they come on the show so that we know more about them. Also, I'm not going to be dictated to by Tin Pan Alley. I

don't want six top singers in the first six shows who have just come to plug their records. We want lots of new faces."


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 from 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 strolls in.


The show was dropped for two weeks in June to make way for the World Cup, and it 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.


When it was announced that the show was to be dropped Dee was quoted as saying "Everyone says what happens on the Simon Dee Show, except Simon Dee."


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, despite Dee being a regular visitor to their London offices. There was a chance of a show on Radio Four, and then a show at Radio Luxembourg, and then a BBC radio station outside London, but again nothing happened. He had been offered the chance to host a religious-themed show "Thou Shalt Not" on ATV beginning 21st March 1971, but he demanded a telephone in his dressing room and to be paid in cash immediately after each show finished. A fee of £100 per show had been agreed, but when Dee saw the contract he realised he would have to do ten live shows on Sunday nights and tape one during the week. He took the contract away to read it further and to check with his diary that he wasn't busy. The show's producer Vic Rudolph told the Daily Mirror that he had asked Mr. Dee to return the contract because "we had already made it clear to him that we wanted the contract signed that day. We felt the negotiations had gone on long enough, we just couldn't reach a mutually satisfactory understanding with him." Dee's colleague Mike Raven got the job instead. 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