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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

Produced by Elizabeth Cowley and presented by Private Eye’s Barry Fantoni and actress Wendy Varnals A Whole Scene Going was the forerunner of late seventies shows like Something Else, where the teenage audience gets to air their opinions and grievances on live television. As the BBC put it "A programme reflecting the taste and times of Britain's under-twenty-ones." This show attempted (quite successfully on the little evidence we have left) to cover teenage topics in a teenage fashion. Talking to Melody Maker in January 1966 Cowley claimed "Everybody has had a basinful of rave-ups, and it's time for something else... I think Bernard Braden has a point when he says pop shows are pompous and take pop too seriously - and we may be doing it on the show - but if teenagers take pop seriously then I think we should respect their opinions."

Proving there was life beyond Carnaby Street the show presented articles on life for pop stars on the road, youth scenes around the world, employment, unemployment, holidays, housing and anything that would concern the young, college or university age audience.

Producer Cowley had previously worked as an assistant editor on BBC TV's nightly news and current affairs programme Tonight. Talking to Record Mirror just after the launch of the show she said "The word 'scene' denotes the kind of programme it is. It's for kids who are with it, not those who go pot holing or mountaineering. There are plenty of programmes on BBC for them already." In the same article co-host Barry Fantoni claimed "I like being in the position to expose pop stars' attitudes, other than their pop images. I'm a link man and a digger rather than an interviewer. It's like painting with words. If you paint a picture, you want people to look at it, if you talk to people on the telly, you want to communicate with the viewers in the same way." Presenter Wendy Varnell's CV also included work on TWW's popular, and well respected pop show Now.

A band would appear every week and perform two numbers, sometimes live. Among those appearing were The Who, The Kinks, The Pretty Things, The Spencer Davis Group, Herman’s Hermits, The Dave Clark Five and The Small Faces. Sometimes these guests would also be quizzed by the precocious audience about their music, life and attitudes. Frankie McGowan, Cathy's sister also occasionally featured on the show.

The show was broadcast live, and would on occasion lead to confrontation between an interviewee, the interviewer and the studio audience. An agony column with guest ‘aunts’ was also a weekly feature, with sometimes frank and provocative opinions. Considering that the show was broadcast in the early evening it doubtless would have lead to complaints from the burgeoning ‘clean up TV’ brigade. Strangely, Mick Jagger was also not a fan. Talking to Melody Maker in February 1966 he confessed "Only seen it once. I don't know what to say about it without being rude. It's only one step up from Five O'Clock Club."

Despite the initial approval from the media it would quickly vanish. The Daily Mirror turned on the show merely a month into it's tenure, claiming "This BBC-1 series, which started off with cantering promises of brightness, punch, virility, brash honesty and originality, is settling into a cosy rut of playsafe platitudes and predictability. It is now like a gossipy tea party. Too lacking in scope, too kind, too narrow minded . . which is not what teenagers are supposed to be."

On 1st August 1966 a miming ban was to be imposed by the Musicians Union which would affected both Top Of The Pops and A Whole Scene Going. A BBC spokesman said "A Whole Scene Going will not now return in the autumn after its present run finished on June 15." While a show spokesman talking to Melody Maker said "We're all very depressed about it. It's one of the quirks of the new programme schedule. Big changes are planned for the autumn and it was decided there wasn't room for A Whole Scene Going."

Three shows are known to exist, plus a few clips on You Tube from director John Crome.



5th January 1966 -15th June 1966