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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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