1 9 5 7 – 1 9 5 8 (UK)
The BBC were determined to fill the 6pm – 7pm timeslot on Saturdays with a show for teenagers – something they could enjoy before they went out dancing or to the cinema.
And so, in 1957, the Six-Five Special came down the line, courtesy of Rock & Roll impresario Jack Good.
Opening with a train sequence to Johnny Johnson’s theme music, Six-Five Special was the forerunner to many other pop shows with its studio audience of 150 kids jiving and clapping.
The show was introduced by Pete Murray and Josephine Douglas with Don Lang and his Frantic Five and former boxer Freddie Mills in support.
Adam Faith made his television debut on the programme, and regular performers were young Tommy Steele and the Steelmen and ‘Little’ Laurie London who had ‘the whole world in his hands’ after his first appearance.
The BBC felt that the show should say something, and so a priest in a dog-collar came in and did the hand jive to prove that the church was alive and kicking.
Six-Five Special soon built up a huge following of over 8 million viewers, and it led to a film, two stage shows and a concert version.
It was a row over the concert version which led to producer Jack Good being sacked by the BBC. He promptly took his talents to ITV where he created Oh Boy! in 1958. Ironically it was Oh Boy! that effectively killed-off Six-Five Special.
Following Good’s departure, Jim Dale assumed the mantle of host, but the show had lost much of its zest.
And five years before Dr Beeching, the Six-Five Special was cancelled.