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 safe cover versions or novelty numbers. BBC and Radio Luxembourg DJs were hired as the hosts, rather than more traditional television personalities. Pete Murray would be the first, with Keith Fordyce deputising on holiday breaks, later replaced by Brian Matthew, who in turn was replaced by Jim Dale. ABC's Philip Jones would direct the show.
The show arrived in one of pop's occasional creative troughs. Elvis was out of the
Army, but instead of going on tour he went straight into a regrettable Hollywood
career, with each movie taking another piece of his soul away. That didn't matter
so much for Cliff as he made fewer movies, and were usually much higher quality,
and besides, he never relied on just a movie career to be seen, with concert and
TV appearances taking him world-
Initially scheduled for a thirteen week run, the format would have three established
pop acts (the 'stars') perform their new release, then introduce an act new to TV,
even if they haven't released a record yet. 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.” There would be another star to conclude each show. Among the new talent
introduced in the first series were future hit-
Talking to Disc weekly about Spin-
The show proper returned in September 1961 with a regular ‘show within a show’ slot
Some acts were also accompanied by a six strong, three boy, three girl dance troupe.
However, the acts were there to plug their new release and to that end they lip-
Despite the show being networked from the second series onwards, some ITV stations only found time in their schedules to broadcast the first half of the show. But while ITV stations Ulster, Scottish and Tyne Tees took Lucky Stars ATV, the London weekend franchise decided to show their own puppet series Supercar instead, claiming that pop music gets a fair airing on TV anyway. ATV London then started playing the show from the beginning of the second series in September 1961, but the ongoing programme dispute between ABC, the show's producer, and ATV London led to the decision by ATV to drop the show in January 1962 and replace it with shows from its own catalogue dating back several years. ABC would later drop ATV's highly successful Sunday Night at the London Palladium from its own schedules. ATV's move was more puzzling since Lucky Stars made its debut in the network TAM ratings for the final week of 1961. By Spring 1962 ABC’s decision to persevere with the show is validated as it wins Melody Maker's Top TV Show award.
When the show returned for its third series in September 1962 the debut acts had
been dropped in favour of an 'all-
It was the intention of the show to present songs on TV the day after their release, but this would cause quite a problem to the production team. Jones explained to Disc "We're sometimes faced with just a title and the artist's identity with no record ready to listen to. In cases like this, the set designers have to get cracking with perhaps no more idea of the tune than a few bars hummed over the phone by an A&R man or a song plugger." Talking about the set designs Jones explained "The sets are worth a lot of attention. They help the visual impact of the artists and their discs, and I think they help the artists to come over well if they've got a good showcase. I'm longing for colour TV, I can tell you!" Robert Feust was the shows' first set designer, who, post Lucky Stars, would work on The Avengers and become a successful film director.
ABC’s new studios at Teddington Lock in Middlesex were opened a week earlier than intended on December 11th 1962 in order to record three appearances by Cliff Richard and The Shadows, to be seen in three consecutive shows the same month. However it was the intention to move to Teddington in November.
Early 1963 sees three regular Spin-
Most of the shows were pre-
By summer 1963 it was felt successful enough to run the show throughout the whole
year, so a new summer version Lucky Stars (Summer Spin) was created, hosted by Pete
Murray. As the weekend franchise holder for the north and midlands ABC Television
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! or Top Of The Pops 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. Talking to TV Times about hosting the show Brian Matthew said "When I first did it the programme included interviews with the stars. They are now out and the result is a quicker show."
Like Ready, Steady, Go! Lucky Stars was a 'Special Fee' show, which meant that artists accepted a lower than normal fee in order to come on and plug their new record. Lower than, for example, the London Palladium show where they would be expected to play live.
The show got a new look starting with the 27th March 1965 show, a week before Ready
Steady Go! got it’s own cosmetic surgery. The theatre style stage and facing audience
has now gone, replaced by a floor stage with the audience sitting in rows around
them, arena style, increasing the seating capacity to 700. The series now has its
own resident fashion and dance expert Jackie Crier. According to an NME report "The
programme takes on a new look tomorrow (Saturday) with a magazine-
In 1965 host Brian Matthew, fed up with the wall of screaming that ruined the show's sound, reprimanded the predominantly female audience, telling them to keep quiet. As a result he was asked to leave the show. Jim Dale had joined the show with the introduction of the summer replacement version Lucky Stars (Summer Spin) and was now invited to host the regular show as well until the end. The summer version of the show would go on location, with the ambition to record two numbers outdoors for each show.
While some acts played and sang live on Ready Steady Go there would be no demand to do so on Lucky Stars. Talking to the Daily Mirror at the time of the 200th show in July 1965 Philip Jones said "There have been changes in format over the years. But the idea is still basically the same. All the artistes mime to their records. That's the way we like it. There is no suggestion at all of us asking artists to sing and play 'live.' The idea is to present the stars with their original record sounds. This can't be done in a TV studio, even with a big band."
The producer would clash with two big acts in the summer of 1965. The Yardbirds turned
up late for a rehearsal due to transport problems and were told to go home. Talking
to the NME later Chris Dreja apologised "We were sorry to be behind time but we thought
they'd be understanding. No fear. The producer had some very snooty attitude about
it all. He didn't want to know -
When the regular show returned in early October 1965 slight changes had been made in order to attract an older audience, but the screaming girls were still there. The show was now 45 minutes long and broadcast 30 minutes later than before. Groups would be limited to two per show. Later in the month The Jo Cook Dancers were hired as the regular dance troupe.
In March 1966 a ban on singers and players miming on TV shows, implemented by the Musicians Union, was announced, but a date for the ban to be put in practice by television stations had not been officially given. However, an ABC spokesman told Melody Maker "We have been approached by the Union to stop miming after April 1 and talks will presumably take place between now and then. we are going on as usual for the present."
On 16th April 1966 the show celebrated its fifth anniversary, only to be cancelled the following week. 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.
The announcement of the show's demise came just after the Musician's Union request for a ban on miming came into effect, and ABC would admit that this was a contributing factor. Talking to Disc magazine an ABC spokesman claimed "There has been no direct edict from the MU, but their views have partly contributed to our decision to end 'Lucky Stars'. We have made several changes over the past five years, and rather than change it again, we decided to scrap it. We are now considering two pilot shows to take up the Saturday slot in the autumn or winter. They will definitely cater for pop fans, but miming will be out." However, when the news about the show's scrapping was reported in the NME ABC claimed that the MU miming band had nothing to do with their decision.
Talking to The Stage's Television Today section an ABC source claimed "Before every
summer season we have discussed whether to rest Lucky Stars but in the past we have
decided to continue the show -
A new series of ABC’s Opportunity Knocks filled the gap in July. However, there would
a surprise at the end of 1966, a one-
The Ken Dodd hosted Doddy's Music Box debuted the beginning of 1967. Lasting for fourteen months it was the only obvious contender to fill the gap left by Lucky Stars.
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 NBC’s Hullabaloo had seen the Lucky Stars format when producing their own show.
Despite ABC's support of the show it's sad to report that only three known complete editions are known to exist, along with several isolated clips.
Kevin Mulrennan's e-