Oh Boy! 

11 January 2001 tbs.pm/3369

For a child born into the arms of World War Two, the future seemed to be one of promise and growth while the world as you knew it collapsed, excitingly, around your ears.

 

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

An ABC Television Network Production

The privations of the conflict – aerial bombardment, shortages, evacuation to unknown areas – were followed by the promise of something better growing up amongst the rubble of Europe. By the end of the war, politicians were struggling to be seen as better than the next man in their plans for the future.

That future was to change the face of the country. As the forties gave way to the fifties, the generation who had known nothing but war in their formative years suddenly lived in a new country. This new country had a free health service, education for all, a social security safety net for the poorest, and full employment. Of all the sections of society to benefit, a new one that had appeared because of the prosperity was the one to benefit most.

Teenagers, or teen-agers, as the first, frightened mumbles in the newspapers had it, stayed in education longer than their parents. Their parents themselves had more money than their children’s grandparents. Many had jobs, leading to more prosperity and a need for somewhere to spend it.

What goes around comes around. Teenagers spent their money then as now on pop music. This was something truly frightening to the previous generation – loud and threatening, turning respectable sons into thuggish teddy boys and china daughters into screaming hysteria candidates.

The television company that could hit on a formula to unite these two distinct sections of the family – the teenagers with the money, the parents with the power – would strike it rich.

The BBC acted first, with ‘Hit Parade’ in 1952 (just missing the start of the boom years) and ‘Off the Record’ following in 1955. Neither managed to grasp the subject well, featuring too much middle-of-the-road rubbish for the kids and too much caterwauling for the grown-ups.

Next came ‘Cool for Cats’ from Associated Rediffusion, followed hot on its heals by ‘Six-Five Special’ from the BBC. ‘Six-Five’ did hit the zeitgeist, attracting both mutually exclusive audiences to sit down together… but this was because the BBC sent the programme rapidly down the ‘variety and filmed inserts’ path of least resistance.

The first true family pop show would have to be made by ITV. But who? A-R could not help but produce programming that was either cheap or very worthy (and both if possible).

ATV knew how to do trashy variety better than anybody, but pop was something that should happen during a show, not as a show in Lew’s book.

Granada had yet to discover the hotbed of talent in the city next door to Manchester (indeed, it frequently seemed to actually forget the city of Liverpool entirely) and took a higher cultural tone with its gritty northern realism self-imposed mandate.

ABC was a company looking for a niche – and pop music could be it. The company could be young and hip – it had already started hiring some of the youngest staff in the business, people who didn’t know what couldn’t be done on TV. Those people were the ones to make great pop TV.

The result was ‘Oh Boy!’, a madcap live show where one song moved smoothly into another, where top recording artists sang together and separately, where older tunes mixed with the hit parade freely. The frenetic pace and high energy output suited the teens down to the ground. The real talent, occasional known older pieces and the sense of fun attracted the adults.

Both sets sat down and enjoyed a happy hour in front of the telly – and in front of ABC’s adverts.

Oh Boy!

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

You Say

1 response to this article

nhewit3221 29 September 2015 at 3:30 pm

Slightly unfair on ATV, the company seemed to have to balance the roles of being a major Network Company, with delivering a more regional and homely image in the Midlands, many of its Birmingham based Regional programmes had the same homely style as those originating from Anglia House in Norwich or TWW’s Bath Road, Bristol. Its Regional News programme, ATV Today was of a much higher quality than that for the Combined Northern Region, and despite the size of geographical area seemed to allocate as much coverage to the Oxford area as it did to Birmingham , Leicester and Nottingham.
ATV’s School programmes were also of a high quality, particularly those dealing with languages, I can recollect lunch time ten minute editions of Primary French shown twice weekly, one of the reasons was that we had to miss the first ten minutes of the lunch hour to view this excellent programme which did not start until 12 Noon! ATV also provided the Network Graphics for ITV schools using their technological wizardry embodied in the three balls symbol sequence for their logo. A clock was used which disappeared marking the number of seconds for the start of the programme, the tittle of the programme in the centre of the clock. When the schools programme was not Networked our local station Granada resorted to a normal programme caption, whilst HTV attempted to replicate the clock, beaming the name of the programme on the centre of the clock, which invariabley was off centre and shook a lot.whilst the clock without Birmingham’s technical wizardry remained visible throughout the 60 seconds it was on the screen.
It is quite ironic that whilst in its Swan Song year 1981 ATV produced over 90 Network Productions, its re configured Regional focused successor,Central managed less than half of this number, whilst the ATV logo continued to announce School programmes, presented by Central TV for a number of subsequent years, the new board would not even fund the Muppets they went to TVS Maidstone studios to appear in Fraggle Rock, oh and of course we mustn’t forget the companies involvement via ITC in Thunderbirds, and my all time favourite Sci Fi Space 99 which if my memory is correct featured a female boss: Dr Helena! Talking about Girl Power lets not forget ATV Birmingham’s Auntie Jean Morton of Tingah and Tucker and Willie Wombat fame oh and last but not least Mrs ATV herself: Noel Gordon!
Not I think you would agree a bad record, not to mention bailing ITV out of a major programming dilema at the time of the Queens Silver Jubilee when the London weekday franchise companies techical staff went on strike, ITN eventually steped in to provide the News covereage but it was ATV’s Outside Broadcast Unit on the embankment for the Thursday evenings Firework display: Who said that immigrants were a liabilty: Lord Grades family fled from Poland during one of the countrys intermitent Pogoms!

Your comment

Enter it below