Musical break for Julie

Meet the co-host of ABC’s The Sunday Break in 1959: starlet Julie Stevens

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AN old piano in a backstreet workshop may change the way of life of starlet Julie Stevens, club secretary of ABC’s The Sunday Break. Julie lives in a piano-less furnished flat in North London. She is mad about music.

From the TVTimes for 27 December 1959 – 2 January 1960

On a visit to Birmingham, she was offered the piano for £12. She bought it.

Then came the problem of what to do with it. Her third-floor flat has stairs too narrow for even the slimmest upright piano.

“I moved into my flat two months ago,” she said. “But I have made up my mind to move out again. Now I shall hunt for an unfurnished flat. I don’t mind where it is — providing it is big enough for my piano.

“I know that as soon as I can have it moved in I shall be wanting to play it all day long.

“Whenever I see a piano I go all goofy and have to walk over and play a few notes. 1 can’t help it.

“I am often a pest. When a well-known pianist comes along to The Sunday Break I have to ask him to play his favourite piece — and then stand beside him to watch how he does it.”

Julie, whose 23rd birthday was last Sunday, has a quality common to young people appearing in the programme — a desire for knowledge.

Tactfully, she refused to say which visitor she has enjoyed meeting most in the past year. But she did talk of some memorable discussions she had had.

Such as talking politics with former Labour MP Elaine Burton. “I questioned her all lunchtime about her Party’s manifesto and about Governmental responsibilities towards teenagers.”

Talking clothes with singer and dancer Millicent Martin. “What a personality she is, bubbling over with original ideas. I picked up a lot of useful tips.”

Talking sport with former Test cricketer the Rev David Sheppard. “I thought cricket was a confusing game, but he was patient and explained all the points I did not understand. He made it sound really interesting.”

Talking about fame with band-leader Ted Heath. “He is a man of few words — until you mention his band. Then there is no stopping him. I wanted to find out what it was that had made him such a success.”

Talking home-making with rock ‘n’ roll singer Marty Wilde. “I met him first just before his wedding and he told me about his plans for the future and the furniture he and his wife-to-be, Joyce, were buying together.”

Talking theatre with actor and producer Bernard Braden. “We spent hours chattering about plays and people and his backstage practical jokes. He tells wonderful stories.”

Talking jazz with Methodist Minister Dr Donald Soper. “He was the last man I expected to know anything about modern music. But he told us he had played jazz and I found him very knowledgeable about modern musical trends.”

And just talking with poet John Betjeman. “Well, it’s impossible to talk to him about anything. You have to sit back and let him do the talking. He is a fascinating man with a tremendous sense of fun.”

And what about the club members themselves?

Said Julie: “Oh, they talk, talk, talk about anything and everything. The marvellous thing is that they are willing to go on television and discuss any subject. And they cannot check up on it beforehand because they are not told what it is going to be until the club opens on the day of the programme.

“They come from all parts of the country and different walks of life. They may not have always the ability to put into words exactly what they think, but they are not afraid to talk and give the rest of us the benefit of their own experiences.

“They are a vital part of The Sunday Break. Without them we might just as well shut down.”

About the author

Tony Crossley wrote occasional features for the TV Times in the 1960s.

1 thought on “Musical break for Julie

  1. My path crossed Julie’s from the time we were both at the same kindergarten at Bella Vista in Higher Broughton, north Manchester; later Stand Grammar School for Girls in Whitefield; in the 1960s when I was Derek Meakin’s right hand at the NW edition of TV Times (by the way you describe him as a features writer but he was NW Editor – we are both on a photo on David Burry’s feature here on the new TV House – we left the old one by crawling through a hole in the wall from one building to the other!) when Julie was opposite us at the Library Theatre and later ABC TV in Didsbury. Later still, we were in touch again by internet but she was living in London by then. I went off to work in Paris for the UN, after Derek persuaded me to run the office of his new project, with his partners from ABC TV just before the contract ended. It was an underwater closed circuit TV venture that didn’t work out! I worked with him again when I returned – he was the first person in the UK to launch a free newspaper; also when I was PRO to Interflora, which he was involved with, and when I became a JP on the Manchester Bench where he helped Norman Frisby (former Press Executive at Granada TV) launch Manchester Justice mag. I was on the editorial board and wrote features.

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