A weekly pub-based variety show with singers and comics performing to a crowd of
extras and locals from Wembley.
Inspired by Rediffusion’s Time Gentlemen Please it was first hosted by comic Ray
Martine, with a regular team of singers 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.
Referred to by Elkan Allan as a "lusty gusty show" it 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. In late 1963 the producers went on a talent search,
bringing in sixteen new discoveries to the show.
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. There
were also now three singing barmaids, while Lonnie Donegan would also be an occasional
guest. 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.
In 1964 Pye Records released a tie-in album featuring many of the singing stars from
the show, while Kathy Kirby released her own album 'Sings 16 Hits From Stars And
Garters' the previous year.