All shakin’ and quakin’

An Honours degree in English and the ability to quote Chaucer and Beowulf would appear to be compulsory for the Light Entertainment producer of today. Jack Good, another Oxford graduate, was the galvanising spirit who brought a new dimension in quality production to beat music shows on television with his three ABC programmes, Oh Boy!, Boy Meets Girls and Wham!!

As the nation rocked to the beat of Lord Rockingham’s XI, teenage audiences stamped and squealed and the TV critics gasped and reeled.

But everyone admired the hard professionalism that Jack Good brought to this dynamic new form of presentation. With his director, Rita Gillespie, he established a record for camera cutting to illustrate the beat of the music; from the artists he demanded a distinctive form of showmanship, demonstrated above, left for Billy Fury to follow

The dramatic use of spotlights and silhouette effects was a signature of all three shows, as was the integration of the audience with the action: in Wham!! they actually became a background for the artists

Oh Boy!
Boy Meets Girls
Wham!!

How to make a singing star

Marty Wilde was the first of a series of young stars created and moulded by Jack Good.

The Svengali of Rock is seen left encouraging the tousle-haired youth who had only just discarded the name of Reg Smith, but who soon learnt how to put across a beat number.

Presently the hairstyle becomes smother and the jacket is gold lamé; eventually Marty is an engagingly assured young man, joking below with fellow artist Billy Fury.

As a popular teenage singing star, Marty returned to ABC as a guest on The Sunday Break, around the time the jumping craze hit Britain

Flair Photography
Bedford Studios

Some scenery!

The sixteen Vernons Girls found fame in ABC’s beat shows as a dancing and singing group.

The producer not only used their voices as backing for the singers but featured the Girls themselves as animated scenery.

Left are three of the Girls in the flesh and as they appeared on the TV screen

Stanley Allen

Personal celebrity came to Margaret Stredder, whose popularity proved that men do make passes at girls who wear glasses, and to Lyn Cornell with Margaret, right, who is now acclaimed as Britain’s new singing star of modern jazz

Armchair Theatre

The 1959-60 season of Armchair Theatre, the only ITV [drama anthology] programme presented every week by the same company, was a notable success with audiences. Thirty-two of the thirty-seven plays featured in TAM’s Top Ten ratings, one gained the highest viewing figure to date for an ITV play and another became the only play ever to achieve first place in the Top Ten

Producer Sydney Newman’s determined work among authors also resulted in a record proportion of new writing; eighteen of the plays were specially commissioned for the programme, among them the first original work for TV by Angus Wilson, Alun Owen and Harold Pinter. Of the remainder, all but seven were by British writers, and several were adaptations made for ABC

The season opened with The Scent of Fear, specially written by Ted Willis and directed by John Moxey, one of ABC’s ablest and most experienced directors, whose cigar is seen left in consultation with Sydney Newman

George Varjas

A new television playwright

One of Britain’s most distinguished novelists, Angus Wilson, signed a contract in Autumn 1959 to write exclusively on television for Armchair Theatre.

His first TV play was After the Show, adapted by the author from his own short story and directed by William Kotcheff with designs by Assheton Gorton.

Starring Jeremy Spenser and Ann Lynn, it told with gentle irony the story of a young man’s first painful brush with love on meeting his uncle’s delectably youthful mistress.

Below the young lover reflects on the capriciousness of women

John Timbers

A ring of cameras converge on the seated figure of Jeremy Spenser

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Depth director

William T. Kotcheff (the ‘T’ stands for Theodore, hence the nickname ‘Ted’) won the 1959 Award for Drama Direction from the Guild of TV Producers and Directors.

In the three years since he came to Britain, this young Canadian has become the most talked-about man in his field.

Disliking the term ‘Method’, he nevertheless demands a depth of characterisation from his actors that drew from one Hollywood star the remark that Kotcheff had awakened his creative imagination for the first time in ten years.

Now actors accept ‘bit’ parts just to work with Kotcheff, in whose productions the dividing line between art and reality is concealed by the kind of vitality he is here infusing in Jeremy Spencer and Ann Lynn for After the Show

John Timbers

Not seen in London

Ronald Hart

‘One of the funniest shows in British television’ was the verdict of audiences and critics on After Hours a fantasia of nonsense perpetrated on the ABC Network for two seasons by Michael Bentine above and assorted friends under the direction of Dick Lester, with designs by Bob Fuest.

Not seen in London except for the first three shows, After Hours fielded a team including ‘seaman’ Benny Lee, ‘football fan’ Clive Dunn, ‘child prodigy’ Dick Emery and ‘guest goon’ Bernard Bresslaw

1960 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM