On Saturday evening 16th February 1957 6:00 pm there was a five minute news bulletin.
The first edition of The Six-
The news and features programme Tonight, launched the previous week, filled the gap
from Monday to Friday. With the rumour that ITA were seeking to abolish their toddler’s
truce the BBC needed to respond quickly, and preferably, cheaply. The idea for a
No major American rock n roll act ever appeared on the show in person, probably due to the British Musicians Union outrage at the new American music, no rock n roll act worth their salt would ever be in a Union, but mostly because the minuscule budget wouldn’t stretch enough to temp any visiting star. Luckily for the BBC the skiffle boom was uniquely British, so they had no trouble finding any number of skiffle combos willing to fill any amount of airspace that the producers had, so there was little or no need to employ any American talent. Besides, many American acts would only appear in the UK when their American chart tenure was at an end. When the bigger British skiffle stars like Lonnie Donegan and Tommy Steele had accepted lucrative tour offers, television gigs at about £25 a time didn’t seem so attractive, so new and cheaper talent was always tempting to a budget conscious producer.
Other features included a film clip, a sports item hosted usually by boxer Freddie
Mills and an interview. When the BBC caught up with skiffle The Bob Cort Skiffle
Group were enlisted to record the memorable theme tune. The show became so popular
that a movie version was also made in 1957. Regulars, Don Lang’s Frantic Five became
a sort of house band supporting visiting singers. One regular act was Jim Dale, whose
‘Be My Girl’ was a hit in November 1957 and later would become a host of the show.
The hit show American Bandstand had learned how to save money by playing records
and filling the studio with dancers, and this tactic was employed by The Six-
Further production upheavals occurred in January 1958 when Jack Good’s contract was
not renewed. Good had intended to take out a touring version of the show with himself
as producer, but had neglected to get the BBC’s permission to use the name and format.
Good was replaced by Duncan Wood, joined shortly after by Bill Cotton Jnr. After
so many administrative problems and a change in music policy an inevitable drop in
popularity followed. The show was finally buried after ITA decided to show the frenetic
Jack Good produced Oh Boy! head to head with The Six-
Only two shows exist in the BBC archive, one from the final few weeks (22nd November
1958) made at a USAF base, featuring Lita Roza singing atop a fork-