TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

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1st April 1961 - 25th June 1966

Despite the short life span of the Jack Good TV shows ABC decided to try yet again with a new Saturday evening pop show, this time concentrating on new releases, rather than singers conforming to the traditional variety show format of cover versions or novelty numbers. BBC and Luxembourg DJs were hired as the hosts, rather than more traditional television personalities. Keith Fordyce would be the first, later replaced by Brian Matthew, who in turn was replaced by Pete Murray. Featuring visiting pop personalities in their own stage setting plugging their new discs, that act, in turn, they would introduce the following, usually new, act. As TV Times put it at the time “The top stars of the record world perform their latest hits and present their tips for tomorrow's hit parade.”

The show came complete with its own special Juke Box Jury style voting insert ‘Spin-A-Disc’ which would make a star of Midlands local Janice Nicholls who would, when required, 'give it foive', with other regulars Jean Carn and Bill Butler who, nicknamed The Confederates, would review new American discs. Nicholls had auditioned to be a reviewer on the show and was asked during the audition (with five others) to give an opinion to Brenda Lee’s Speak To Me Pretty to which she promptly fell off her stool. She was invited back week after week and ended up staying three years. Spin-A-Disc was replaced in July 1964 by The Pop Shop with Janice Nicholls becoming DJ Assistant. Every week the show would employ a guest DJ, usually a real DJ or sometimes a pop act, while a six strong, three boy, three girl dance troupe was also employed.

The show got a new look starting with the 3rd April 1965 show, a day after Ready Steady Go! got it’s own cosmetic surgery. The series also had its own resident fashion and dance expert Jackie Crier. A new regular dance troupe, led by Jo Cook (from The Go Jos) joined just before the end of the show’s run.

Lucky Stars was a great show which featured virtually all the major acts of the era, but strangely it never received the kind of nostalgic accolade that Ready, Steady, Go! would receive. However, the one show everyone who saw it remembers is the first Mersey Beat special in June 1963, watched by just under twenty million viewers, although by late 1963 the regular audience was around six and a half million per show.

Host Brian Matthew had reprimanded the predominantly female audience for screaming too loud and as a result was asked to leave the show in 1965. He gave way to Jim Dale as the host with the introduction of the summer replacement version Lucky Stars (Summer Spin) and remained host until the end. Before the end came many ITV stations had begun to move the show to Sunday, only to move it back to Saturday just before the final edition, but it was dropped by most of the ITV stations by 16th April 1966 including ATV London who replaced it with Anglia’s country drama Weavers’ Green. A new series of ABC’s Opportunity Knocks replaced the series in July.

Due to ABC’s strong international sales drive the show was shown as far away as Australia, albeit with local hosts and a few musical
replacements. It’s also likely that producers of American NBC’s Hullabaloo had seen the Lucky Stars format when producing their own show.