RSG RIP: Another pop show bites the dust!

Ready, Steady Go! Editor Vicki Wickham reviews highlights of the TV aeries that ends on December 23

AT THE end of the year, Ready, Steady, Go! is to be killed off by Rediffusion.

The last programme will be the end of over three years’ hard work. And, despite the times it has been knocked for being too hip and too “in,” it will be something of a tragedy for TV pop.

Ready, Steady, Go! is something of an institution. Although often there have been some disastrous moments, some amateur moments, some moments when you wanted to dive under your armchair wincing with embarrassment, Ready, Steady, Go! was a show which above all else generated enthusiasm and more excitement than you would have considered possible between an audience sitting locked away at home, and artists in a studio miles away.

One person certainly responsible for most of the show’s wild enthusiasm is Vicki Wickham. Always connected with RSG, she has been programme editor for the past year.

From Vicki then, who has been right there in the middle of it all. comes a list of moments when RSG has been on top and beautiful. Moments to look back on when the last noisy, startling, introduction notes of the RSG credits have long since faded back down the cathode ray tube.

 CHRISTMAS PANTO 1965: The sight of Eric Burdon dressed as a fairy with his bent wand and bent-rimmed glasses in that frilly skirt, ad-libbing like a lunatic, makes me collapse every time I think about it.

 DIONNE WARWICK: The first time Dionne was on was about two and a half years ago and she did ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’. Everyone was very worried because at that time Cilla’s version was the big hit. But she went down so unbelievably well, everyone was knocked out.

• THE MOD BALL: What a day that was! It was held at Wembley, and for some unaccountable reason we thought that putting the Rolling Stones on that plinth would stop them being mobbed. Ha ha! Big joke. It didn’t. And Cilla was terrified because she thought she was going to fall off her stand.

• DUSTY: The first time she was on wasn’t actually so great because she was with the Springfields and had just had a row with Tom and Mike. But after that she used to come and do some comparing, just before she became solo star. And that was great because her memory always conked out and it all became a big laugh with everyone giggling and falling about. By the time she went solo and appeared she was an old friend on the programme.

• ROLLING STONES: First time they came on in August 1963 we had these fantastic shots of their heads. At that time they had the longest hair anyone had seen. It was unheard of and viewers’ reaction was probably the biggest we have ever had.

• BEATLES: When they appeared three years ago they were already huge names and it was tremendously exciting putting up crash barriers and wondering if everyone was going to get in and out of the studio okay and see that nobody was going to be trampled to death. It was funny because everyone expected them to be zombies because they were such big names and they were absolutely gorgeous, of course.

• ANIMALS: First time they did ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ we were one of the few people to play it all the way through. That was when we were live and the Animals were terrified that everyone was going to lose interest half-way through and be bored. But it was fantastic.

• WALKER BROTHERS: They came on, sang ‘Love Her’ and Michael Lindsay-Hogg decided to light their heads and just do head and shoulder shots very close up and dramatic. Nobody could believe it when they saw it on the monitor. We had never seen such beautiful boys.

• RAVE UP: When we had Chuck Jackson and Denny Laine doing vocals on ‘What’d I Say?’ with the rest of the Moody Blues backing and the Supremes standing on a piano doing the chorus work.

• IKE AND TINA TURNER: Who came over better than anything else we’ve ever done.

WHAT THE STARS SAY:

• SHADOW BRIAN BENNETT: We’ve never done it in our lives. It just wasn’t our scene. Half the stuff that’s been on it has been pretty diabolical.

• MINDBENDER BOB LANG: It’s tragic. I don’t think it will be long before most of the other pop shows are off too.

• DAVE DEE’S MICK: RSG going is very bad. There are too few pop programmes left. Groups won’t have much of a chance now. Everyone is going anti-pop!

• WALKER BROTHER JOHN: It’s too bad — the pop scene isn’t the same any more. Pop shows aren’t popular.

• GEORGIE FAME: It couldn’t go on forever. It’s had a good run. About time they gave it a rest.

• ZOOT MONEY: A lot of good and a lot of bad things came out of RSG but at least it got people to watch TV — and got a live show going.

• CAT STEVENS: I’ve only been on it once. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It would be a pity if nothing replaced Ready, Steady — at least it was always there.

• CLIFF BENNETT: I’ll be sorry to see it go. I liked the atmosphere. We’re running out of pop shows too quickly. A show like that was very good for publicity and exposure.

• CHRIS FARLOWE: Shame. I always enjoyed being on the show. Although a lot of people knocked it over sound and balance, the shows I worked on seemed to be all right. I hope they replace it with something similar.

• MICK WILSHER (New Vaudeville Band): from ITV’s point of view the show must have been going down when they cut it to half an hour. I don’t really like shows that are crammed full of everybody, but I don’t like to see any pop show go.

• SMALL FACE PLONK LANE: We have always had a laugh when we have been on. Pop used to be everything but it got out of hand and now it’s levelling down.

• FACE KENNY JONES: It’s better than the other programmes because you can see artists performing. I hope there will be something better in its place.

• ERIC BURDON: I’m very sad. I liked it because it made the groups so very real. We were allowed to choose our own material — and not hamstrung by having to do the hit in the same way as on the record. It also reflected the groups’ personalities. I’d like to see a new show — which gave even more freedom. I’m happy I’ll be on the last one — with Alan Price.

WHAT YOU THINK

Carol Marsh (15), addressograph operator. 125 Colchester Road, Leyton E. I0:
It shouldn’t go — it’s one of the best programmes on TV. It has different pop stars every week but on other shows you get almost the same ones each week

John Holford (21), laboratory assistant, 20 Rosedale Road, Tranmere, Birkenhead:
It is time for a change — it’s not as good as it used to be. Some of the groups have been rubbish just lately.

Mike Norman (20), computer operator, 56 Tomlin Drive, St. Albans:
It’s over-stayed its run. A couple of years ago it was all right when groups were in, but RSG hasn’t kept up with the trend for R and B and soul people like Otis Redding.

Sue Beasley (17), junior market analyst, 12 Forrest Way, Ashtead, Surrey:
It may not be the best programme, but it’s about the only one to give us fantastic soul singers like Otis Redding, James Brown and Edwin Starr. Why not axe Batman instead?

Salty Shand (17), student. 42 Millbrae Road, Langside, Glasgow, S.2:
We don’t get RSG up here anymore. We get Countdown instead, and it’s no substitute.

Anthea Langdon (17), shorthand typist, 109 Carlton Avenue East, Wembley:
I don’t think much of it. I prefer Top Of The Pops and only watch RSG when someone really good is on.

Christine Shaw (17), shorthand typist, 31 Dawson Road, Newsome, Huddersfield:
It used to be good, but people are gelling tired of it. It’s getting stale and seems to be all the same. Top Of The Pops is better.

© Vicki Wickham, uncredited writerDisc and Music Echo, 19 November 1966

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