Ready, Steady, Go! The New Year starts here
31 Dec 2016 4 comments. tbs.pm/10394
From TVWorld magazine for 25 December 1964 – 1 January 1965
The year 1964 started, for a record number of television viewers, to the steady beat of a New Year’s Eve party in the Ready, Steady, Go! studio. The programme had a higher viewing figure than any show ever, at that time of night, apart from the General Election results. And even more people are expected to follow it in 1965.
Francis Hitching, editor of Rediffusion’s musical programmes, explained that R.S.G.’s “The New Year Starts Here” (New Year’s Eve, 11.5) will spark off a whole chain reaction of small, private Ready, Steady, Go! parties all over the country.
“This is a programme that wasn’t really designed to be watched,” he said. “We don’t care whether they look in or not, so long as their sets are switched on. We hope people once again will use our programme to get their own New Year parties swinging ”
But there will be plenty to watch. Half the attendance—you can’t really call them an audience, because they’ll be taking part —will be typical Ready, Steady, Go! clients, chosen from the thousands of kids who have danced to the beat during 1964.
The other half will be familiar faces — model girls, pop stars, actors and actresses, boxers, racing drivers. And the stars will include the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, Manfred Mann, Dusty Springfield, and Susan Maughan.
Harry Fowler and Billy Walker will join pop singer Kenny Lynch to mime to that big Newbeats’ hit, “Bread and Butter”.
Ready, Steady, Go! is one of the big ITV success stories. The original idea came from a radio show called “Pop Inn”, a light, informal programme, compered by Keith Fordyce, at which pop stars used to drop in, as it were, and contribute the odd unrehearsed number. Elkan Allan, Head of Light Entertainment at Rediffusion was quick to see the television possibilities of the show and R.S.G. was the result.
Hitching, who was R.S.G.’s editor, was dispatched to tour the clubs and disc dens and watch how the kids behaved. The idea was to put them on the screen in their own environment and let them behave naturally without any concessions to adult taste. When the show started in August, 1963, youngsters were invited to apply for tickets. Within a month there were enough applications to keep Studio 9 filled for six years! Now the kids are picked at auditions in clubs and dance-halls around London for their dancing skill and the way they dress.
From the start, Ready, Steady, Go! has been a big trend-setting programme. But the young audience will not be told about trends. Viewers copy the styles they see.
One of the programme’s big successes has been Cathy McGowan. She came from a job as a secretary to be a teenage advisor, and has wound up. according to the “Melody Maker” popularity poll, as TV’s fifth most popular female personality.
Who watches Ready, Steady, Go!? Francis Hitching says the real devotees are more likely to be found in the 13 to 17 group.
Older people take an interest, too. The explanation, according to Hitching, is that it is the only opportunity they get of watching how the kids behave at the coffee bars when they are unobserved.