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Friday 12th

The peaceful tranquility of the shops and houses adjoining the Four Provinces Club in Islington was shattered beyond repair this week. Suddenly the area has become a hive of seething activity, though few people yet seem to know exactly what is going on.

Workmen cart large pieces of scenery into the club and glamorous showgirls periodically invade the quiet little restaurant around the corner in search of coffee; other girls peer out of windows, shoppers are startled by the waves of sound that waft out from the club, and schoolboys run the perimeter of the building frantically clutching autograph books.

The secret of the Four Provinces Club leaked out on a major scale on Tuesday - the second day of rehearsals for producer Jack Good's new "brainchild" series, "Oh Boy!"

Inside the hall, chaotic disorder reigns supreme. Sheet music litters every available chair, and instrument cases are strewn all over the floor; artists and musicians mingle with perspiring workmen as scenery is hurridly set up; the producer tries to make himself heard above the din of 70 or so voices, and a stray dog beats a hurried retreat between the legs of jiving chorus girls as the powerhouse Lord Rockingham's Eleven explode into action.

Slick show

Out of all this confusion will arise a slick, colourful show - the first of a new ABC-TV series that takes the air at 6p.m. tomorrow (Saturday).

Chaos will give way to a smooth, precision-timed show that promises to be one of the most exciting ever seen in this country.

In between sips of coffee and a goon-style cross-talk routine with musical director Harry Robinson, Jack Good outlined to me the basic aims of the show. "We intend to make this the most organised show on TV," he began, "and also one of the fastest and most exciting".

"I'm looking for a certain type of audience reaction. It's like as if an audience were sitting in a theatre quietly and then were confronted by a blistering stage show that never let up for one moment. They'd simply have to sit up and take notice, and that's what I'm looking for." Jack explained.

"We aim to startle viewers with quick, lively presentation, and because I'm convinced that comedy, no matter how good, tends to slow down a show of this kind, we won't be featuring any comedians. Team-work is going to count more than anything else, and I'm happy to say that everybody in the show is dead keen." he continued.

"Oh Boy!" will be in direct competition to BBC-TV's "6.5 Special" - formerly produced by Jack. How does he feel about it? "Frankly, I'm thrilled at the prospect, and the essence of competition must obviously encourage us to work doubly hard." he confided.

Finally, what style of music will we hear on "Oh Boy!"? For a start there'll be a preponderance of Big Beat material from the cream of Britain's "rockers." But that doesn't mean that ballads are out of favour.

"Right now, the trend in pop music generally is veering towards a more melodic conception, and we will follow that trend." Jack emphasised.

Now let's meet some of the artists who'll be appearing in tomorrow's show. I found newcomer Cliff Richard propped up against a wall listening to the Dallas Boys rehearsing. Introductions completed, we sought sanctuary in a quiet ante-room, where I managed to render Cliff speechless with the news that his first Columbia recording "Move It" had entered the hit parade.

His jaw dropped, and he groped unsuccessfully for words. He spoke in short, monosyllabic phrases: "Already?.....well.....I mean....what can I say? Everything is happening all at once."

His composure regained, Cheshunt-born Cliff, 17, set about telling me of his sudden attack of nerves. "It's wonderful to be going on TV for the first time, but I feel so nervous that I don't know what to do.

"I mean, I only turned professional five weeks ago, and before that I was working as a clerk and only playing at local dances and things in my spare time. I wore sideburns then, but I shaved them off last night - Jack (Good) thought it would make me look more original. I think he's right." he said.

John Foster, Cliff's burly, 19 year-old manager, broke in to tell me how ten London agents had given the thumbs down sign after hearing a tape recording by Cliff. "Seems like those fellows can be wrong after all." he grinned!

Coffee for two

Though his first year in show business is still not yet complete, Marty Wilde takes the hectic whirl of rehearsals in his stride. After singing his way through "Think It Over" and "Baby, I Don't Care," he greeted me with a smile and a handshake, and guided me to the nearest coffee bar.

Two steaming cups were placed on the table by an inquisitive waitress, and Marty requested extra sugar with a firm "got one heck of a sweet tooth." The sugar arrived together with a grubby piece of paper which Marty dutifully signed for a devoted fan.
To the accompaniment of Peggy Lee's "Fever" from a nearby juke box, we chatted about Marty's role in the show.

"I'm very proud to be associated with the series because I know it's going to be a great show. That's because we have such a fine producer. You know, I predict that one day Jack will be the world's greatest producer." he confided.
"Rehearsals," he echoed, in answer to my question. "They're fun. I enjoy them because I learn so much watching other people work. I like learning because it helps to broaden my scope. You know, pretty soon I want to have a crack at all kinds of songs - ballads, rock, everything."

In panto

About his future, Marty was very frank. Towards Christmas, he'll be temporarily leaving "Oh Boy!" to make his debut in pantomime at Stockton. "It'll be my first and last pantomime," he declared. "I'm not awfully keen on the idea, but I realise that the experience will be good. Anyway, I've always fancied myself as a comedian, so maybe this'll be a good opportunity to try out some gag lines."

Marty is his own severest critic, but I feel he was being hyper-critical when we discussed his latest record, "Misery's Child."

"It's a bad record," he stressed. "And if it gets into the hit parade, it doesn't deserve to." And with that, Marty strode off to the juke box to drop another coin in the slot. The tune? "Fever"!

Back in the Provinces Club, Lord Rockingham's Eleven were blowing up a storm on Harry Robinson's new composition, "Hoots Mon." Girls in sweaters and shorts - the Vernon Girls - were running through dance steps, and Jack Good was frantically waving a piece of music in front of organist Cherry Wainer.

Grouped around a piano were Neville Taylor and The Cutters - the "Oh Boy!" resident vocal quartet and the group who supplied the high-pitched scat lyrics on the Rockingham outfit's Decca recording of "Fried Onions".

A drum roll brought "Hoots Mon" to a close, and The Cutters broke into a pounding version of "Yakety Yak." A couple of choruses later, Jack Good nodded his approval, and the group dispersed to various corners of the room.

"Like it?" Neville asked. "I want to record with the group soon because I think we've got a good sound. Anyway, the audiences seemed to like us when we did those two "Oh Boy!" trial shows a while back."

"You know the boys?' I shook my head, and Neville pointed out Wilf Todd, Basil Short, and Sonny McKenzie. "Funny thing, but they all play bass," he beamed. "All good musicians - couldn't work with a better bunch," he beamed again.

Further conversation with Neville was cut short by the arrival of a harassed-looking Jack Good, requesting Neville's presence on the bandstand. We turned around, and I succeeded in treading on Ronnie Carroll's toe!

Finding a relatively quiet spot to talk, Ronnie proceeded to eulogise about Jack. "Great producer," he said. "Jack knows what he wants and he always gets results. That's why I'm very pleased to be working with him on this series."

TV rehearsals hold no worries for Ronnie, and he was even looking forward to the 45 minutes ahead of him. But I don't think he'll be so keen in a couple of months time, for within the next 12 weeks, he is set to make 20 major TV appearances on shows like the "Jack Jackson", "Cool For Cats"", and "Rainbow Room" programmes.

"I'll be the contrast in "Oh Boy!" because whereas most of the other artists will be singing beat stuff, I'll concentrate mainly on ballads. It'll add a touch of variety to the show," Ronnie told me.

Variety dates have no place in Ronnie's work schedule these days. "In the first place, I don't get the time and apart from that, I never was very keen on variety. But I'm looking forward to doing pantomime for the first time at Sheffield this Christmas," he added, before dashing off to sing the opening bars of "Seven Steps to Love."

In the studio, everything seem to be happening at once.

Bertice Reading and John Barry - two further stars of tomorrow's debut show - weren't scheduled to arrive for at least another two hours, and I suspected that by the time they got there, I wouldn't be able to get a word in edgeways. So I left!

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Saturday 13th

'OH BOY!' SHOW # 1 (Compered by Jimmy Henney)

Lord Rockingham's XI, 
Red Price,
The Dallas Boys,
Neville Taylor & The Cutters,
Cherry Wainer, The Vernons Girls.

Cliff Richard & The Drifters
John Barry Seven
Marty Wilde
Ronnie Carroll

An incomplete rehearsal schedule exists to this classic first show. (see Rehearsals). Ronnie Carroll sang "Seven Steps To Love”, the Dallas Boys sang Buddy Holly's “Think It Over" and Gene Vincent's "Rocky Road Blues”, Neville Taylor & The Cutters sang the Coaster's “Yakety Yak” and the Everly Brothers “Oh What a Feeling”, and Lord Rockingham's XI performed two medleys plus a full performance of their current hit  “Hoots Mon”. The audience went wild over Marty (he appeared in the 2 trial broadcasts earlier in June 58) who sang Buddy Knox's “Somebody Touched Me” in addition to a medley with the Dallas Boys in which he sang Elvis' “Baby I Don’t Care” and Ricky Nelson's “Poor Little Fool.”

Jimmy Henney introduced an exciting new talent making his debut television appearance -- 17-year-old Cliff Richard backed by his group The Drifters. Cliff pouted and gyrated his way through Milton Allen's "Don’t Bug Me Baby” and his first ever-record release, “Move It!”.

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Saturday 20th

'OH BOY!' SHOW # 2 (Compered by Tony Hall)

Lord Rockingham's XI, 
Red Price,
The Dallas Boys,
Neville Taylor & The Cutters,
Cherry Wainer,
The Vernons Girls.

Cliff Richard & The Drifters
'Cuddly' Dudley
John Barry Seven
Vince Eager
Ronnie Carroll

Cliff Richard returned for his 2nd appearance to sing the B side of his new single, "Schoolboy Crush" (originally the A side, until EMI swapped the sides over) backed by the Drifters, the Dallas Boys & the Vernons Girls.

Dudley Heslop, who had appeared in the two trial Oh Boy! shows in June, makes his first appearance under his new guise of  'Cuddly Dudley'.  Marty Wilde, although listed to appear, lost his voice and so did not in fact sing. His place was taken by Vince Eager.

Note that although TV Times lists The John Barry Seven as appearing in this episode, the NME stated just beforehand that they would not.  Wilde, Eager & The JB7 were also due to appear on a package tour concert at Burnt Oak, that evening. However, if Eager & The JB7 did appear on Oh Boy! that evening, they could not have arrived at Burn Oak in time for the first house.

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Monday 22nd

A milestone week in Cliff Richard’s life. After just 2 appearances on "Oh Boy!" he was offered his first national tour supporting the Kalin Twins beginning on Sunday 5th October. Looking for professional musicians to back him he went to the 2 I's coffee bar in London's Soho district where he met Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch who became the new Drifters ( later The Shadows).

Within weeks the new Drifters were backing Cliff on “Oh Boy” and Hank and Bruce later appeared as vocal artists in their own right too.

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Tuesday 23rd

Jack Good falls ill with a mild case of pneumonia bought on by the sheer exhaustion and grueling demands of the last three weeks.

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Friday 26th

Marty Wilde gets his first record release in America next week, when American Columbia issue "Misery's Child" on their subsidiary Epic label. At the same time, the progress of Marty's new disc in Britain has been handicapped by the fact that he is unable to feature the number during his current "Oh Boy!" TV series.

Marty's manager, Larry Parnes, told the NME: "We are very disappointed that producer Jack Good feels this number is unsuitable for the programme. There must be many fans who would like to hear it. As four days rehearsals are needed for each "Oh Boy!" show, he has almost no time for other TV shows in which he could sing "Misery's Child". In view of this, it now seems unlikely that Marty will continue in the series after October 18, when he completes his six scheduled appearances. Meanwhile, there is more good news for him from the U.S. In New York, his agent Hyman Zahl is negotiating for Marty to tour with the Alan Freed show on a similar rock 'n' roll package.

Britain's latest teenage talent singing star, Cliff Richard, who is currently moving up the NME charts with his Columbia recording of "Move It!", has now become one of the resident team of ABC TV's Saturday evening "Oh Boy!" show.

Producer Jack Good, now back in action after a mild attack of pneumonia last week, confirmed that his aim is to dispense with guest artists, and rely solely on residents. Cliff, who originally appeared as a guest on the first show of the series, is now booked indefinitely. When Ronnie Carroll leaves the show on October 18 to go to "6.5 Special" he will be replaced on "Oh Boy!" by Peter Elliott who has been booked until the end of the year. Jack Good's other ABC TV production is now set to commence on October 18, and will be seen only by viewers in the Midlands and North. This is the disc-jockey show starring Sam Costa and Keith Fordyce, which will be titled "Sam and Keith."

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Saturday 27th

'OH BOY!' SHOW # 3 (Compered by Jimmy Henney)

Lord Rockingham's XI, 
Red Price,
The Dallas Boys,
Neville Taylor & The Cutters,
Cherry Wainer,
The Vernons Girls.

The John Barry Seven
Lorie Mann
Marty Wilde
Ronnie Carroll

Both Ronnie Carroll and Marty Wilde were signed up initially by Good to appear in the first six shows of the series  (until 18th October). After this date Carroll left "Oh Boy" to appear on the BBC rival show "Six-Five Special" for a six week period.

On the day before this broadcast Larry Parnes had criticized Jack Good in the NME for not allowing his protege Marty Wilde to sing his new single release"Misery Child" on the "Oh Boy!" show. He stated Wilde would not be appearing after the 18th October show.

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Article by Jack Good, September 1958

The following article was written by me, Jack Good,  towards the end of  September 1958 and was published in the music press at that time.

The bell rings for the end of the first round in the great slogging match between the reigning champion "Six Five Special" and the contender for the title, "Oh Boy!"

Now the fight is really on, how does it feel? Well, it's thrilling. At first I didn't like the idea of competing with 'Six Five' for which I had a great affection. I didn't want to see the programme's viewing figures nibbled away by the other channels. And anyway it was hard to imagine what programme could top the old "Six Five". But now it has all changed so much from the early days that it is virtually a different show, so I don't feel that in opposing it I am violently changing loyalties. In fact in "Oh Boy!" I feel that the excitement we used to feel in early Six Fives has been regenerated - only 10 times more intensely. Then again Oh Boy is crammed with friends with whom I had the pleasure of working on 6.5. Both Red Price & Rex Morris, the two Rockingham tenors, have played tenor in Don Lang's famous Frantic Five, Eric Ford (electric guitar) played on Six Five - as had the Vernons Girls, who by the way are a perpetual wonder to the rest of the cast, looking as they do lovelier every day (have they been using THAT soap) - & giving better & better performances (thanks vocally to Peter Knight & visually to Leslie Cooper). Harry Robinson, our musical director, used to be very much in evidence as Jim Dale's musical arranger & advisor.

Just in case this recitation gives you the impression that 'Oh Boy' is run by a crowd of old has-beens let me hasten to point out that the 'Oh Boy' team must be about the youngest in television. Harry Robinson is only twenty-four;  Trevor Peacock & I are 27. I haven't dared to ask Rita Gillespie the director, Bill Nuttall & Jim Boyers - our brilliant sound & lighting men - how old they are - but they all look far too young to have learned all the know-how at their command.

Many people say - & I used to agree with them - that it is unfair to the public that, for the sake of cut throat competition, two programmes of similar content should be transmitted at the same time. For the very people who would like to view one programme would also like to see the other - & the people who dislike one will probably hate the other & yet have no alternative kind of viewing. Well, of course, all this is very true. But you can't have your cake & eat it. If you accept that competition is a good thing because it keeps both sides on their toes to give the public the very best, then the public cannot logically complain at the necessary results of competition - programme clashes. To have competition that didn't compete might be desirable but it is impossible.
And in any case, the pop music haters can be reassured. The situation cannot last. Sooner or later the battle will be won or lost and the losing side will naturally replace the victim with a programme that will compete by attracting a different sort of viewing.

Well? And who will win? obviously I'm about the most biased person possible on this question - except perhaps Russell Turner. But here's why I think we will win. When 'Six Five' started, it was a mammoth sized task to try to peruade the powers-that-were that it was not only safe but essential to let our studio audience loose all over the set. This, I felt sure, would create a new & exciting atmosphere. The idea, luckily, seemed to pay dividends. But it is now definitely for the scrap-heap. It used to be fun but now, over the months, it has become a bore. The kids in Six Five now ought to be relegated to an auditorium out of vision. But this means that the whole production of Six Five would have to change in style. There would be no longer any grounds for snap-happy camera work catching spontaneous movement & expression. Everything would have to become more precise. In fact my impression is that Six Five would really have to run on the lines of 'Oh Boy'. But there's a snag to this. The terrible task of assembling the 'Oh Boy' team has convinced me that there are certainly not enough of the right people to form two 'Oh Boy' type programmes. There are only just enough to form one. So there it is . . . . meanwhile the battle rages. The first clever move was, I have to admit, made by Russell Turner who had it announced the week before the first Oh Boy that Bernard Bresslaw the star of last week's show would have to leave "before 6.30". - the time 'Oh Boy' finishes. The tactics of this move are unimpeachable.

'Fried Onions' has just been released in America, where rumour from fairly unreliable sources suggests that the Rockingham sound is causing quite a stir among D.J.'s over there. It is perhaps safe to assume that the record has been played at least once in U.S.A. Meanwhile Lord Rockingham has been at it again. A new 78 is being released late next week and it will be pursued hot-foot by an E.P. - the sides being "Lord Rockingham's Lament"; "Hoots Mon"; "What the butler saw"; & "Lord Rockingham Meets the Monster." This last epic title had the XI in hilarious fits of the dreaded screaming Nadgers during the session. Voices by H. Robinson & - J. Good had to be dubbed on to the record thrice every time we wanted an effect. One for Stereophonic sounds, once for Monaural & once for Funereal.

Most artists in 'Oh Boy' come to rehearsal by themselves. Some occasionally turn up with their wives or girlfriends, sometimes they come with their agent or accompaniest. Not our Marty. He comes with his Press Officer - who I hasten to say is a very nice and imaginative chap.

Quite a few people have asked how Lord Rockingham's XI get that rasping, edgey sax noise. Well here is one trade secret. Before a session whilst every other band would tune up, Lord Rockingham's XI carefully detune. The saxophones then, being fractionally out-of-tune have that cutting noise. The musicians in the band are amused by this 'sharp practice' & suggest that this sort of noise should be called "Un-Music", and that the Rockingham XI should form the nucleus of a newly formed "Un-Musicians DisUnion" and all those who did not join would automatically be branded as  "Whitelegs". The DisUnion would insist that UnMusicians should be contracted for a minimum number of 3-hour tea-breaks; and they would also decree that these tea breaks should be broken at regular intervals by a minimum of 20 minute rehearsal sessions. I only hope the idea doesn't catch on.

The week before last Marty Wilde lost his voice & Vince Eager had to take his place at the Finsbury Park Empire. This week Marty's voice has always been the object of concern & it was thought by most people at rehearsals of 'Oh Boy' that Vince Eager's furtive presence in the background was just incase he had to replace Marty again. But in fact Vince was waiting for Marty to have (a) spare moment to rehearse 'Bird Dog' with him - the number these two strapping 6ft 2" boys are going to perform together on the 'Oh Boy' of October 4th.

Many, many thanks to Jack Good who allowed this article to be reproduced from his original 1958 notes which he kindly loaned for copying purposes.



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