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Popular Music on British Television

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SUPERSONIC

London Weekend
1st March 1975 - 2nd April 1977

Produced by ex-Southern Television legend Mike Mansfield and brought in by London Weekend to help flesh out Saturday Scene with some much needed live musical appearances.


A one-off pilot was shown in March 1975 and was considered successful enough to commission for a whole series which started in September 1975.


The show appeared at an odd-time for British pop, bridging the tail-end of the more poppy faction of Glam Rock and the punk era.


Andy Bown was brought in to record the theme (also released as a single, he even made an appearance on the show to promote it). The show featured the first flops from the likes of Roy Wood, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Alvin Stardust, Slade etc. After moving the show to teatime it gave the first prime time exposure to punk since the Sex Pistols Bill Grundy outburst when the Damned appeared in February 1977 performing Neat Neat Neat.


The visual style was similar to the Granada produced teatime weekday pop shows with screaming girls kept at a safe distance from the stars, but what made the show different was the visual effects. Top of the Pops could only offer dry ice and only on special occasions, but Supersonic gave us confetti cannons which would get stuck in the throat of singers, massive fans blowing G forces sideways across the stage and very tall podiums and pedestals where the singer daren't move from fear of falling. On one occasion Gary Glitter was put into a harness and flown over screaming fans for which he was insured for a million pounds.


Each act was introduced from the control by Mansfield himself or any passing celebrity walking through the London Weekend corridors. Mansfield chose all the artists who appeared and gave them reign to do something more experimental, for example allowing David Essex to perform the seven minute title song to his concept album All The Fun Of The Fair, instead of just plugging the single.


There was briefly a tie-in magazine which gave away a flexi disc of Mansfield talking to the Bay City Rollers.


Despite Mansfield's Busby Berkeley aspirations there was a perception that the kind of pop music that the show presented was on its way out (particularly with the advent of disco), so the show was cancelled in Spring 1977.