Pop on Southern Television 1960 -
Follow the Southern Star…
In August 1958 Southern Television became the seventh ITV station to take to the air, covering Dorset, Hampshire, Berkshire, Sussex, Kent and Essex with studios in Southampton and Dover.
While Granada's arrow proudly pointed north, Southern's star suggested we look in
the other direction, but very few did. ITV's network schedulers rarely looked at
the other side of the Thames which meant they were missing out on some of the more
idiosyncratic pop shows of the sixties, most of which were down to Southern's in-
Despite being sparsely populated "the south" seems to have provided an over-
Southern kicked off the sixties with only one reasonable music offering, Songs I Wish I'd Written, a twenty minute early evening filler which would extend into 1961. Joining the schedules in April 1961 was Southern's daily news and magazine show Day By Day which from its early days would feature pop acts like Eden Kane, Al Saxon and The Brook Brothers popping into the Southampton studio before heading off for a concert that evening.
May 1961 saw the first edition of Strictly For The Birds starring the West End revue star Dudley Moore with his trio and his chums like Cleo Laine, Johnny Dankworth and Humphrey Lyttelton. The show proved so popular that it was extended to a twice a week showing later in the year. It would be replaced in November 1961 with another British jazz favourite Tubby Hayes in his own series Tubby Plays Hayes, while Eric Winstone debuted another jazz series And It Comes Out Here in December 1961. It's notable that the powers that be at Southern favoured modern jazz, rather then the trad jazz that the rest of the country seemed to be grooving to. That was Southern, get used to it.
The year begins with the potential logistical nightmare that was Personal Call, a show in which organist Frieda Hall and pianist Jack Freedman would play songs requested by members of the public live over the phone. Day By Day continued with its occasional pop guest, but by this time the show had production assistance from a new Southern signing, Mike Mansfield. In February Three Of A Kind starred Wout Steinhuis, Holland's answer to Les Paul and Dorita Y Pepe, a British couple who displayed a confusing visual and musical mixture of both Spanish and Latin American. The same month saw Personal Call's production staff heave a sigh of relief as the live phone call format was abandoned, Ronnie Aldrich on piano, Joe Muddell on bass and James Neale on drums would play songs from cards chosen "at random" from a tombola style drum.
It also has to be pointed out that Southern was one of the few ITV stations to take ABC's Thank Your Lucky Stars on a Saturday night as not all of the stations did.
June 1962 brought us another jazz outing Sweet 'n' Sour, with Art Jones and his Quintet
providing the music, while in September singer Rosemary Squires gets her own show,
A Handful of Songs. December saw Kenny Lynch performing his hit Up On The Roof on
the actual roof of the Northam studios, while of the last day of the year saw Their
Kind of Music, a mash-
While 1963 kicked off with Their Kind Of Music, Personal Call and a series starring popular light opera star David Hughes change was in the air. It was rumoured that The Beatles had once turned up at the door of the Dover studios on route to Hamburg, but were turned away. For Southern, the change began on the 24th of April with Kenny Lynch singing The Beatles' Misery to a group of bloodhounds on Day By Day.
Record review shows were a popular and cheap format, but if you could get an audience
and a few happy amateurs involved, just like Juke Box Jury, all the better. ATV's
failed pilot Dad You're A Square ended up on Southern's desk, courtesy of producer
Barry Langford, and after a couple of pilot shows it was greenlit for broadcast in
June. The show seemed to be Juke Box Jury as produced by an anarchist. Records that
didn't make the grade wouldn't just be humiliated by comments or mere banishment,
they would be physically destroyed by any means that came to hand, broken, smashed
and blasted. It seemed to be anti-
In October Manfred Mann would appear in a ten minute feature on Day By Day about
the blossoming UK rhythm and blues scene, but jazz wasn't far away as the same month
saw the one-
Dusty Springfield chose Southern to help kick start her solo career with the documentary Say I Won't Be There, also broadcast in November, while Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor began their series Robin and Jimmie and Rhythm and Blues at the end of the year. If it seems a bit incongruous that a pair of Scottish folkies would make a series for the south of England, it's worth pointing out that Southern was part owned by Dundee's D C Thompson publishing.
1964 continued with Dad You're A Square and The ABC Of Jazz, while the station gets
into the Blue Peter racket with Three Go Round in February. Three presenters trying
not to act like teachers and introducing the occasional pop act. The first show featured
Dad, You’re A Square proved so successful that the show was taken on the road, and
broadcast from different venues each week, with the great Kenneth Horne briefly hired
as chairman. Story of A Songwriter was followed quickly by the one-
With so many great American blues singers heading for the UK Southern chipped in with Evenin’ With Jimmy Witherspoon in September, while Sonny Boy Williamson turned up at Day By Day in December. Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor followed up their 1963 show with The R&J Road Show in October. To round off the year Mike Mansfield would produce his own series featuring his favourite female singers. Ladybirds was a fascinating mini documentary featuring Britain's greatest singing talent, starting with Petula Clark, talking about her beginnings and where her career is now.
Three Go Round would continue to offer up the occasional pop star at tea time, while Ladybirds afforded us a peek into the lives of some of our greatest singers. The series would make a comeback in June with another batch and, although it didn't look like much, what Southern did was usually not what you would expect from the other ITV stations. Pop The Question replaced Discwizz in October, with Muriel Young still present, with The Chart Busters also joining the Southern stable the same month. It was another look behind the scene of the pop industry, this time hosted by Shaw Taylor, who had also appeared on Pop The Question.
The year begins with an All-
A projected series starring Unit 4+2 never materialised, but Tommy Moeller from the group would be of service to Southern over the next year or two.
In late 1966 Southern begin filming a four-
In May they gave French superstar Claude François his own starring show after his appearance in A Tale Of Two Rivers, despite the fact that his recent English language single Bench Number 3, Waterloo Station had not been a hit. Southern were thinking of their own national song contest in Spring 1967 to be held in either Brighton or Southampton, but nothing came of it.
Interference by Brian Epstein on behalf of his stoppy starlet Cilla Black led to a shorter than usual edition of As You Like It on 27th June 1967. Mike Mansfield told Disc "On Monday I was 'phoned by Brian Epstein, who said that unless Cilla was switched to top billing, I was to cut her part in the show. On a matter of principle, I cut Cilla's spot." He also said "To Sandie's credit, she told me to give Cilla top billing rather than spoil the show."
Programmers' decided that a new show New Release (broadcast 8th September) would
go head to head with a potential re-
Lulu and Adam Faith were both lined up for their own series, both to be produced by Mike Mansfield, but neither happened. In October Southern announce that they were going to produce The Bee Gees TV special Cucumber Castle, due to start filming on 4th December 1967 at Leeds Castle in Kent, while November sees another Bee Gees announcement from Southern. They are to make a special based on songs from the first album, while the band themselves will write a song on the spot for inclusion. Christmas would have seen a pop flavoured panto' starring Anita Harris, but again nothing happened.
New Release won the fictional battle and debuted 5th January 1968 with the jovial
and amusingly opinionated Tony Blackburn, annoying Esther & Abi Ofarim, Paul Jones
and Anita Harris with his on-
In February Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich were to have a TV special based on their song The Legend of Xanadu, again nothing happened, while a projected series for Esther and Abi Ofarim to be produced by Mike Mansfield also never materialised.
The jazzers would make their presence felt in a more permanent manner this year as the station ident has a new eight (or nine) note acoustic guitar jingle, written by Steve Race, which would stay with the company until the end of its contract in 1981.
Paul Jones was to have his own series made by Southern sometime this year as announced in the press in late 1967. Whereas Long John Baldry was approached by Southern to read a series of late night horror stories in August, but sadly it never happened either.
Children across the country hold a special affinity for the show that Southern debuted
on 30th October 1968. Little Big Time was hosted by Freddie and the Dreamers, a band
who, outside of the series, no-
And this was the end, basically. Time For Blackburn continued for another few editions
and was not re-
I wish you could have seen what I saw in the sixties. These wonderful, slightly bonkers
shows from the imaginative Mike Mansfield. The thoughtful insights into the working
minds of pop stars in Ladybirds and Chart Busters. The pop-
The station lost their franchise at the end of 1981, giving way to TVS, a station who also indulged in a slew of pop shows, only to quickly abandon them, as Southern did so many years before.