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Stars and Garters (1963-66)

Courtesy of Archbuild

Main image of Stars and Garters (1963-66)
Associated Rediffusion for ITV, 31/5/1963 -3/1/1966
black & white
Directors includeJohn P. Hamilton
 Daphne Shadwell
 Rollo Gamble
Writers includeBarry Cryer
 Marty Feldman
 Dick Vosburgh

Presenters: Ray Martine, Kim Cordell, Jill Browne, Willie Russell

Show full cast and credits

Variety from the pub entertainment scene, recreated in a TV studio.

Show full synopsis

Variety underwent something of a renaissance in the early 1960s as part of the pub entertainment scene, and Stars and Garters reflects this. Following a Dan Farson programme, Time, Gentlemen, Please! (ITV, tx. 5/12/1962), which visited Farson's own pub, The Waterman's Arms, and an edition of the topical magazine show Here and Now (ITV, 1961-63), devoted to 'Music in Pubs' (tx. 4/12/1961), Associated-Rediffusion tried to reproduce the format from a set in Wembley's Studio 5.

The original concept was a sing-along programme, with brief introduction and closing lines from one of the singers, but after a pilot described by director John P. Hamilton as a disaster, Ray Martine was brought in to compere mainly musical acts performing to 'regulars', some of them extras and others brought in from the Rising Sun public house, which also provided the Don Harvey Trio. Only non-alcoholic drinks were served, but free cigarettes were provided.

Two further non-broadcast pilots were made before the show was green-lit. The repertory cast was a mixture of music-hall/variety performers of mixed renown, middle-of-the road singers, one or two genuine pub-singers and the Alan Braden Band (plus the trio to back them), with occasional big-name guests. The show is said to have made stars of Vince Hill and Kathy Kirby, and gave Kim Cordell unexpected exposure; most performers had record contracts of some kind. Martine, a quick-witted East End comic from the Deuragon Arms, Hackney (and the Iron Bridge Tavern), who also played West End supper clubs, had an act so 'blue' that Rediffusion paid Dick Vosburgh, Marty Feldman, Barry Cryer and others to write clean gags for him.

This unsophisticated show was a ratings success, and won Weekend magazine's award for Best Light Entertainment Show of 1963. Changes were made for a third series: Martine's contract was terminated and Jill Browne and Willie Rushton replaced him. Kathy Kirby was dropped, as was Clinton Ford (replaced by Al Saxon). The last three shows were presented by Kim Cordell. John P. Hamilton and Daphne Shadwell, who had directed all the episodes up to and including the Summer Outing special in June 1964, gave way to Rollo Gamble (who had directed Time, Gentlemen, Please!), while Robert Fleming and Peter Croft saw out the final series. Series one was live; subsequent series were on tape, broadcast as live.

David Sharp

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Video Clips
1. Ray Martine with mynah bird (0:33)
2. Kim Cordell medley (2:65)
3. Diana Dors (2:41)
Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (1974-77)
Cryer, Barry (1935-)
Dors, Diana (1931-1984)
Feldman, Marty (1934-1982)
TV Variety