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Ready, Steady, Go! (1963-66)

Main image of Ready, Steady, Go! (1963-66)
Associated-Rediffusion for ITV, tx. 9/8/1963-23/12/1966, 178 x 30/50-minute programmes across 4 series, black and white
ProducersElkan Allan, Francis Hitching, Vicki Wickham
DirectorsDaphne Shadwell, Peter Croft, Rollo Gamble, Michael Lindsay Hogg

Presenters: Keith Fordyce, David Gell, Cathy McGowan, Michael Aldred, Dusty Springfield

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"The weekend starts here" with this lively Friday night pop programme.

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In the early 1960s, as pop music became the vanguard of a newly developing and revolutionary artistic and cultural movement, television producers began to tackle the task of inventing a format to cover the emerging scene in a 'hip' and 'happening' way. ABC Television made a brave stab with Thank Your Lucky Stars (1961-66) but it was with Ready Steady Go!, an intoxicating blend of performances (both mimed and live), celebrity interviews, mime competitions and dance demonstrations, that British TV got its first authentic 1960s pop show - one the kids were keen to watch.

The show's main host may have been the avuncular Keith Fordyce (a veteran of Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s who had also presented Thank Your Lucky Stars) but with the arrival of co-presenter Cathy McGowan - a pretty, mini-skirted ingénue, who had answered an ad to become a teenage adviser on the show - the series found its true face and one with which the watching pop fans could identify.

In its prime the Friday night series really lived up to its catchphrase 'The Weekend Starts Here', with an irresistible mix of the hottest stars from both sides of the Atlantic. Initially running 30 minutes, the series soon switched to a 50 minute slot and gradually discouraged acts from miming, hoping to up the ante with the excitement of live performance.

The ramshackle nature of the production - with cameras in shot, dancers gathered close to the acts and performances and interviews taking place in different areas of the studio - gave it a chaotic but appealing style. Musical guests were constantly from the top range and reflected the individual musical tastes of the production crew as much as chart position or new release status.

The series coincided with, and exploited, the tremendous explosion of British pop talent which took the world by storm. Surviving footage provides a priceless archive of some memorable moments and important performances from some of the greatest stars of the day. In the 1980s, the rights to tapes of the series were acquired by pop artist-turned-entrepreneur, Dave Clark.

Dick Fiddy

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Video Clips
Thank Your Lucky Stars (1961-66)
Pop Music TV