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Thank Your Lucky Stars (1961-66)


Main image of Thank Your Lucky Stars (1961-66)
ABC for ITV, tx. 1/4/1961 - 31/12/1966, black and white, 251 x 40-45 min programmes
DirectorsKeith Beckett, Ben Churchill, Peter Frazer-Jones, Pat Johns, Philip Jones, Milo Lewis, Helen Standage, Mark Stuart

Presenters: Brian Matthew, Jim Dale, Pete Murray, Ray Fell, Keith Fordyce, Martin Locke, Jimmy Young

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Pop music programme that capitalised on the Mersey Beat era.

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Thank Your Lucky Stars (1961-66) was ITV's answer to the BBC's weekly hit pop music programme, Juke Box Jury (1959-67), although its style was more closely linked to the traditional variety show format than the panel game ancestry of the BBC's production. However, what made Thank Your Lucky Stars a success - at its peak it drew an audience of over 6 million - was its early adoption of The Beatles and 'Mersey Beat'. The programme's first producer, Phillip Jones (previously with Radio Luxembourg) was quick to see the appeal of the bands emerging from Liverpool and booked many of the city's leading acts to appear on the show, including Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, The Big Three and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The programme was originally introduced by Keith Fordyce, who later fronted Ready Steady Go (ITV, 1963-66), and many who followed him, including Jimmy Savile, Pete Murray and Jimmy Young, would also remain familiar faces in pop music TV. However, it was during Don Moss's time as presenter that Thank Your Lucky Stars started its famous 'Spin a Disc' slot - a blatant copy of Juke Box Jury in which a panel of teenagers marked records out of five. The segment created a star in its own right, 16 year-old Janice Nicholls, whose "Oi'll give it foive" response to favoured tunes became a national catch phrase.

To modern audiences, Thank Your Lucky Stars can sometimes appear an odd mix of chart-based pop music and singing variety acts, although at the time it was quite common to see the two styles mixed, especially in musical shows based around celebrities such as Tom Jones and Lulu. But appearances from top US artists such as The Ronettes and The Supremes more than made up for any lacklustre theatre-based fillers.

Unfortunately, the very thing that made the show a hit also contributed to its demise. The waning of Mersey Beat spelled the end for the show, although it was allowed to go out on a high note with a special retrospective programme, Goodbye Lucky Stars (tx.25/6/1966), hosted by its final presenter, Jim Dale. Both Nicholls and Fordyce made guest appearances before one last performance by The Beatles, who underlined just how much music had changed since the programme started by playing both sides of their current single, 'Paperback Writer' and 'Rain', complete with backwards vocals and sophisticated studio effects.

Anthony Clark

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Ready, Steady, Go! (1963-66)
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