the least well-remembered of the four 'classic' UK television pop shows
of the Sixties, 'Thank Your Lucky Stars', first hit our screens in April
1961. Produced by ABC Television, it was intended as a rival show to the
BBC's already well-established 'Juke Box Jury'.
The original producer was Philip Jones (below left)
who had previously been the programme controller at Radio Luxembourg before
coming into television by way of Granada and Tyne Tees, where he had notably
produced TV 'specials' for Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee.
Jones had also produced a number of popular music shows for Tyne Tees including 'At The Golden Disc' and 'Request Time' and, in 1960, he was 'headhunted' by Howard Thomas the managing director of ABC television. At that time their light entertainment department was run by Brian Tesler who, with producer Jack Good, had already created teen-oriented music programmes such as 'Oh Boy!', 'Boy Meets Girl' and 'Wham!'.
Jones' brief was to broaden the viewing audience for this type of production and he became the main driving force behind the creation and success of the 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' show that boasted at least three major 'scoops'. His other ATV shows also included 'Big Night Out' (1963) and 'Blackpool Night Out' (1964-65).
The Shadows, the first British group to be awarded a Gold Disc (for 'Apache'), had it presented to them on the show of 13th April 1962. January 19th 1963 saw the first networked TV performance by The Beatles (recorded on January 13th) miming their second single, 'From Me To You' and, appearing on the show of July 7th 1963, The Rolling Stones made their very first UK television appearance, miming 'Come On' for which performance they were paid the grand sum of £143! The Dave Clark Five also made their TV debut on the show, on 20th April 1963, with 'Mulberry Bush'. Gene Vincent had already become the first American artist to appear on the show, followed by many others who included Brenda Lee, The Supremes and The Ronettes.
Jones realised, early on, the impact that the 'Mersey Beat' sound was to have on Britain's youth, inspiring him to put on a 'special' show in June 1963 featuring Liverpool's finest groups and artists. That show alone attracted over 6 million viewers, prompting his comment "The ratings achieved by that show proved the Liverpool sound was not limited in its appeal to a local audience - obviously it had a national following."
original presenter of the show was Keith
Fordyce who went on to greater fame as compere of 'Ready Steady Go!'.
Other presenters over the show's five-year life included Jimmy Savile,
Pete Murray, Barry Alldis, Kent Walton (the well-known wrestling commentator
who had previously compered 'Cool For Cats'), Alan Dell, Sam Costa, Jimmy
Young, Don Moss and Brian Matthew who also DJ'd the extremely popular
radio show 'Saturday Club'.
'Five O'Clock Club' presenter Muriel
Young also co-hosted the programme on occasion. Other producers of
the show included Helen Standage, Keith Beckett, Milo Lewis and Alan Freeman
(not the D.J.). Intro
/ Theme Music
Although Brian Matthew is the presenter most associated with the programme, it was Don Moss who was responsible for introducing 'Spin a Disc' to the show. This was the now-famous segment where a panel of 'typical teenagers' listened to the latest releases and awarded each of them 'marks out of five' in an obvious copy of the 'Juke Box Jury' format. Herein lies everyone's strongest memory of the show. Early in 1962 a 16 year-old girl from Wednesbury in the Black Country (then Staffordshire) was successful in her application to be on the teenage jury and she proved to be such a popular personality that she remained as a permanent feature on the jury for three years. The girl was Janice Nicholls and her 'Oi'll give it foive' spoken with a strong Black Country accent has since become a national catchphrase, even though comparatively few people now know or remember exactly where it came from.
Janice Nicholls eventually married Brian Meacham (of Brian Gulliver and The Travellers), who now have their own web site called 'Oi'll Give It Foive' (what else!) where you'll find some great pictures and Sixties recollections. It is with Janice and Brian's kind permission that the picture of them with The Beatles appears to the right. There are lots more pictures of them with other artists on their own site, and some great Sixties memorabilia. Janice enjoyed considerable fame as a personality in her own right during this period with appearances on chat shows, in magazine articles and adverts, even making a novelty record called 'I'll Give It Five' on Decca
At that time, the show was recorded live on a Sunday night at the ABC
Alpha Studios in Aston, Birmingham, for transmission the following Saturday.
Some recorded material was also used which was produced at the Teddington
Studios in London. The programme introduced an all-Liverpool 'special'
on June 29th 1963 called 'Summer Spin Liverpool Special', featuring The
Beatles, Lee Curtis, The Big Three, Kenneth Cope and The Breakaways (remember
him as 'Marty' from 'Randall & Hopkirk - Deceased'? ), Billy J. Kramer
and The Dakotas, The Vernon Girls and Gerry and The Pacemakers. This one
programme alone pulled in 6 million viewers, which persuaded ABC to introduce
a regular additional seasonal replacement programme called 'Lucky Stars
Summer Spin' and also led to a second 'Merseybeat Special' on December
21st 1963 called 'Lucky Stars On Merseyside' which featured The Beatles
(above left), Gerry and The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and The
Dakotas, Cilla Black, Tommy Quickly, The Fourmost and The Breakaways.
The 'Spin-a-Disc' segment of this particular show featured the Cavern
Club's own D.J. Bob Wooler as guest
compere and Billy Butler as a mop-top teenage jury member.
The summer season version of 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' was introduced in 1964 from the Teddington Studios which kept more or less to the same format and featured Billy Fury as a regular guest performer. Spin-A-Disc was replaced in July 1964 during the Summer Spin months by The Pop Shop with Janice Nicholls becoming the DJ/counter Assistant. Talking to TV Times about the summer replacement show Philip Jones said "This is a pop show featuring big name stars, so it's a natural step to use stars as comperes. Different stars will act as host each week, both boys and girls".
Talking about the Pop Shop insert Jones said "The idea is this: We'll have about twenty youngsters in the studio, listening and dancing to the week's American discs. When we've played the quota - it might be three or four - they will go to the counter of our Pop Shop, where they can pick their favourite of the releases played." After the show's Summer Spin outing the regular show returned on 3rd October 1964, but it was announced that the Pop Shop item would be dropped in favour of "a show within a show" feature, meaning Janice Nicholls would have to find new employment. However it would return a few weeks' later with Janice back in her rightful place.
"Thank Your Lucky Stars, May 1966* - I was there, in the audience at the Alpha TV studios! I remember the Koobas... very flowery trousers. The young girl on the swing was Deano and I'm sure that Tom Jones sang a couple of songs. The stuff about the 'Stones' is just as I remember it. In the break, Jim Dale was very entertaining.... " Have you got some questions for the Rolling Stones ?.... " Yes... very good... but I can't ask Mick about that....."
All Original Material Copyright SixtiesCity
Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images