Ready, Steady, Go!
1 9 6 3 – 1 9 6 6 (UK)
For teenagers all over Britain, early Friday evenings were dominated by one programme – Ready, Steady, Go! – which promised “the weekend starts here”.
The first show aired on 9 August 1963 and was presented by Keith Fordyce (pictured at right with Mick and Keith) and David Gell, with 200 kids in the studio.
Originally only broadcast in the London area, over the next three years, Ready, Steady, Go! proved to be quite simply the best television pop show ever, combining its unique atmosphere and vitality with the best sounds around.
From the opening title music – Manfred Mann‘s countdown-like 5-4-3-2-1 – the show oozed vitality, and the studio discotheque set allowed the general public onto the studio floor for dancing and mingling with the appearing stars.
The show featured both new releases, existing hits and off-the-cuff interviews with the artists. It made stars of singer Donovan and a 19-year-old ‘typical teenager’ from Streatham, South London – Cathy McGowan.
A lowly £10-a-week secretary, Cathy answered an advertisement for a teenage adviser to the show, along with 600 other hopefuls. Elkan Allan, the man behind Ready, Steady, Go! remembered “she was awfully gauche and raw and desperately nervous, but she was worth taking on because she was obviously terribly switched on in a teenage way”.
Cathy was totally unspoiled. She lived with her parents and admitted that her favourite programme was Danger Man : “He’s my idea of a smashing, terrific looking chap”. And in spite of her new-found fame, she still dusted her production office every day.
The young girl, who constantly flicked her hair out of her eyes, soon became known as ‘Queen of the Mods’ and received 600 fan letters a week, and you could buy Cathy McGowan shirts, jeans, stockings and even a movable doll.
She was judged the top female television personality of 1965 by the Melody Maker.
A 1964 spin-off series featured the RSG! team in a talent competition show called Ready, Steady, Win! searching for new pop talent. The panel of judges included Brian Epstein, Bill Haley and Brian Matthew.
April 1965 saw a temporary name change to Ready Steady Goes Live when the show decided to ban miming and live transmission began.
The final show aired on 23 December 1966, a victim of more progressive fashions.