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Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

The Young Generation were a lively and multi-talented team of dancers and singers, assembled by dancer and choreographer Douggie Squires in 1967. They soon established themselves as the floor-space filling troupe of choice, the more of them the better, all surrounding the host, whether it be Rolf, Lulu, Engelbert or Vera.


First taking up residency on The Rolf Harris Show from May 1968 on BBC2, followed by the first of several excursions into Sweden in August as a part of the International Cabaret series, following Lulu back to Stockholm for her BBC1 series a year later, and in the process becoming a popular act all across Europe. At the time of the Lulu shows in Sweden they had started work on their debut LP, made for the BBC. Although the group never really had any stand out solo singers they did for a while have Sally Graham, later of The New Seekers.


By 1969 the troupe was a like small circus, made up of Valerie Barrett, Heather Beckers, Marie Betts, Ann Chapman, Jackie Dalton, Jane Herbert, Linda Herbert, Linda Jolliff, Lesley Judd, Kay Korda, Linda Lawrence, Patricia Lovett, Sandy Penson, Terry Robinson, Wei Wei Wong, Bobby Bannerman, Chris Cooper, Roger Finch, Danny Grover, Harry Higham, Roger Howlett, Erik-Jack, Scott Mackee, Dennis Morrisey, Peter Newton, Brian Rogers, Barry Stevens, Ricky Stratful, Donald Torr, Trevor Willis. There were three marriages within the group at the time, and with an group so large, and with marriages within that group, there would inevitably be personnel changes, and one change saw future TV mogul Nigel Lythgoe join in 1969. They were back with Lulu in the Show Of The Week spot in June 1969 and by Christmas 1969 they were given their own special, giving Jesus Christ Superstar a run for its money tackling the life of Christ in a colour musical special.


January 1970 saw them back, this time with their own series on BBC2, with a ridiculously first-class guest list including Lulu, Robin Gibb, The Peddlers, Blue Mink, Franciose Hardy, Billy Preston, Lou Rawls, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, Lesley Gore, Glen Campbell, Dusty Springfield, Pentangle, Sacha Distel, Cleo Laine, Four Tops, Georgia Brown, Jerry Butler, and Kenny Rogers & The First Edition among others. A guest list that ATV would be deeply jealous of. Despite that, it seems unlikely that the show would have been exported to the USA. They were back in Sweden with Lulu in early 1970, but this time it was The Young Generation Meet Lulu, in a series of shows where they played host to the likes of Esther Ofarim and Shirley Bassey. They also had their passports renewed to follow Rolf to Rothenburg at the end of 1970. They continued with Rolf and Rod McKeun into 1971 and helped provide the entertainment for the British Screen Awards in March and Christmas Night With The Stars. They also cropped up in Meanwhile On BBC2 with host Kenneth Williams and The Vera Lynn Show in November.


By 1972 Rolf was out and Engelbert was in for another series, however like the Harris series the Engelbert show was a co-production with West Germany's ZDF. This time they had joint billing with the singer, while in 1972 they also kept Vera Lynn company for a one-off special. In August they accompanied Lulu for her new series and re-appeared in Christmas Night With The Stars. By this time Nigel Lythgoe had taken over the reigns as Douggie Squires had left the BBC to form the Young Generation Mk2 as The Second Generation, heading to London Weekend with their own series 2Gs and The Pop People. In November 1972 they were back on BBC2 for Fifty Years Of Music along with Gilbert O'Sullivan, Cliff Richard and The New Seekers.


They also continued with their recording career. Their 1972 - 1974 RCA recordings were produced by Stewart Morris, who handled production on many of their the BBC TV shows, while the show's musical director Alyn Ainsworth also worked on the recordings, giving a sense of continuity.


In January 1973 they pitched up in They Sold A Million with Vince Hill on BBC2. They were then back on awards duty for The British Screen Awards and the Royal Television Gala Performance in July, while summer saw them at the circus for a series of BBC2's The Young Generation Big Top, a precursor to BBC1's Seaside Special.


It was nearly another year before they appeared again on BBC1 helping out fill the stage for The Vera Lynn Show, while Ken Dodd was their host in November in his World of Laughter. That show carried on into 1975 before they popped up in The Musical Time Machine with Vince Hill at the end of the year, continuing into 1977.


Then it was over. Ten years as a group and, despite the personnel changes that no one seemed to notice, their collective absence was noticeable. The screen seemed a little emptier without them. They were as talented and professional a troupe that any TV producer could have wished for. Pan's People had been disbanded the year before, but a replacement had been made, but no such luck for The Young Generation. The likes of Hot Gossip were just around the corner, so maybe it wasn't bad luck, just bad timing.



THE YOUNG GENERATION


BBC2

24th January 1970 - 6th June 1970