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Popular Music on British Television

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16th March 1958 - 28th August 1965

The break out of violence by Teddys Boy across the country in the mid-fifties led to calls by the media for the Church to involve itself. Their response was to set up youth clubs in order to dilute it or remove violence entirely. Run by people the media would later dub 'trendy vicars' the clubs came in for equal praise and criticism and were even the subject of the 1958 movie Serious Charge.

In 1958 ABC Television were in talks with social worker and religious adviser Penry Jones to devise a programme that looked at youth problems from a Christian perspective. Two pilot shows were produced and shown to clergymen, who were enthusiastic. A youth club setting was constructed within a television studio and Sunday Break was launched on the evening of 16th March 1958. The same evening ATV showed an edition of About Religion, which had a Christ figure (played by an anonymous actor), dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt being crucified.

The purpose of the show was to engage young people in discussion about the problems that they face and why they feel that some take to violence and destruction as a way out and if Christian teaching could help. Everything from youth church attendance to pre-marital sex were dealt with, all on a Sunday evening. The Rev Marcus Morris and TV personality Sheila Buxton presented the programme, with Alex Welsh & His Band as the resident group, while other jazz groups would appear later on.

ITV must have had high hopes for the show, giving it the much coveted TV Times cover for the first show, calling it "A Sunday club for teenagers". Penry Jones claiming "Young people are no less religious than their grandparents. They are not religious in a churchgoing way, but they have faith and are interested in asking vital questions about life and its meaning".

From the TV Times "The club's music by The Alex Welsh Band and young people from England, Scotland and Wales: a window on their world, and their approach to religion and living".

Alex Welsh was replaced by The Dill Jones Trio in 1959 while the show moved out of the studio in June 1960 and the youth club was no more, while music acts were dropped altogether in late 1962.

On 26th March 1961 they broadcast A Man Dies, a folk music interpretation of the crucifixion featuring young people from a Bristol Presbyterian church youth club. The controversy the show stirred up resulted in Janice Willett, producer of the show, being stabbed the following month whilst working at ABC TV.

Among the stars popping their heads around the door were Paul Anka, Brenda Lee, Marty Wilde and Mark Wynter, but the soundtrack was mostly trad jazz.