TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

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31st May 1963 - 3rd January 1966

A weekly pub-based variety show with singers and comics performing to a crowd of extras and locals from Wembley, where the show was recorded. Inspired by Rediffusion’s Time Gentlemen Please it was initially hosted by comic Ray Martine. A team of regular singers was assembled for the first thirteen week series including Kathy Kirby, Clinton Ford, Tommy Bruce and Vince Hill. Martine was a well-known London pub comic, but had new material provided by writers including Barry Cryer, Dick Vosburgh and Marty Feldman.

The show was usually shot at Rediffusion's studio at Wembley, but the 22nd June 1964 show saw the team go outside onto the River Thames for a one-off summer special, while later in the year they pitched up at West Ham's Stadium for a night of greyhound racing. Like other successful shows there was also a live stage show in 1963.

By 1965 Kirby, Ford and Hill had gone, replaced by Susan Maughan and Al Saxon, but one notable show from this era unusually featured The Joe Cocker Group, while other acts from the pop/rock world would occasionally appear.

August 1965 saw Ray Martine leave the series and the show was re-launched in October as The New Stars and Garters with actress Jill Browne as the new owner, Dodie West, Arlene Dorgan and Gary Miller were the new regular singers along with “Man-About-Pubs" William Rushton. To prove her credentials TV Times took Jill Browne to the Ye Olde Bull and Bush on Hamspstead Heath for a colour photo shoot behind the bar. Lonnie Donegan would also be an occasional guest. There were also now three singing barmaids. It was the intention to attract a younger, "smarter" audience to Stars and Garters, according to director Robert Fleming, but the show was actually heading for closing time.

The format would later inspire The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club at Granada in the early seventies.