And now – star variety from ABC


And for the teenagers – skiffle king Lonnie Donegan

Cover of the TVTimes
From the TVTimes for 15-21 September 1957

WELL-KNOWN music-hall figures will get equal prominence with youngsters who have only just burst into the world of entertainment in ABC’s new fortnightly variety series, which starts next Saturday.

Say ABC: “We are out to provide variety — in the true sense of the word. And that means bringing along artists capable of satisfying the demands of all age groups.”

“The ‘pop’ music fans will be well looked after; but at the same time we shall balance the bill by introducing some of the older stars about whom there is a nostalgic appeal for many of our viewers.”

There will be a good example of this determination to cater for varying tastes in the second programmes of the series, on October 5.

George Formby, who has been drawing in record seaside crowds during his summer tour of the coast, will be making one of his rare TV appearances.

And in direct contrast will be the Charles McDevitt skiffle group, which in the last few months has had a swift rise to top billing in a successful provincial tour.

An interesting point about this show is that the McDevitt group will use it as an opportunity to introduce their new singer, recruited to replace Nancy Whisky, who is now a star in her own right.

To meet the demands of teenage viewers ABC is arranging to include skiffle groups or “pop” singers in every programme in the new series. Among skifflers booked are Lonnie Donegan, Johnny Duncan and Terry Dene.

Lonnie Donegan
For teenagers – skiffle king Lonnie Donegan
Shirley Abicair
Shirley Abicair will be bringing her zither along to open the big-names series

Shirley Abicair and her zither will be in the first programme, and other singers lined up include Edna Savage, Eve Boswell, Michael Holliday, Jimmy Young and Garry Miller.

On the laughter side there are some popular comedians to follow Albert Modley (who is in the first show) and George Formby. Ted Lune, the lanky lad with the thin face and wide, staring eyes is one. Then there is pudgy Reg Dixon and that ever-young veteran of show business, Jimmy Clitheroe.

This is the first time ABC has originated its own professional variety show, although the company has presented many semi-professional acts in its long-running Bid for Fame.

To launch the series, ABC have signed up Arthur Lane, an experienced light entertainment producer.

The shows will come from the Manchester studios, where they will be able to take advantage of such aids to unorthodox presentation as a revolving stage with a 30ft diameter, and a giant bow fronted lift, 46ft long and 12ft wide, which can sink 4ft 6in below the studio floor.

Albert Modley
Albert Modley takes steps to make the audience laugh. He is in the first show

Another unorthodox feature will be the way in which artists will be introduced. None of the shows will have the usual type of compere.

Instead, a novel substitute has been devised about which Arthur Lane and his team are keeping a discreet silence.

All I can say is that a group of dancers — four men, but only one girl — are this week rehearsing some unusual routines by which they hope to weave a thread of continuity between the acts.

Or, as ABC put it: “As far as presentation is concerned we are trying out a new and completely individual style.”

About the author

Derek Meakin was Northern editor for the TVTimes

1 thought on “And now – star variety from ABC

  1. I found one of these shows on YouTube and brought it to the attention of the group, it was a bit unusual for its time but entertaining none the less…

Leave a Reply

Discover more from THIS IS ABC WEEKEND from Transdiffusion

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading