1 9 4 7 – 1 9 6 4 (UK)
60/30 minute episodes
Featuring the music of Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra, Television Dancing Club – one of the longest-running TV shows in the world – aired on the BBC for 17 years.
Former world champion dancer Silvester explained the steps and then called on two expert dancers who first performed the basic steps and then showed a number of variations on them.
Victor – who had already enjoyed a successful career on the radio since July 1941 with BBC Dancing Club – was a master at the job. Clear, concise and well-mannered, only a complete dolt could fail to follow him.
Silvester was assisted by blonde Australian-born hostess Patti Morgan (his daughter-in-law, a former model) and the programme had more of an air of formality and sophistication than its vigorous and more plebian competition, Come Dancing, with which it alternated.
The show also featured a regular competition for the Television Dancing Club Trophy, with viewers invited to judge the dancers by sending a postcard to Television Dancing Club, BBC, London W12.
Originally broadcast from Alexandra Palace, the show was initially only seen in the London area and surrounds. The series was later transmitted nationally from the Carlton Rooms in Maida Vale with the aid of an outside broadcast unit.
When the show was cut to 30 minutes, the dancing lessons were cut in favour of the ballroom dancing demonstrations. The lessons returned in 1957 (with regular dance partner Doreen Freeman) as a result of viewers’ complaints.
Patti Morgan left the show in January 1958 (following her divorce from Victor Silvester Junior).
She was initially replaced by Sylvia Peters until a regular hostess was dropped in favour of “a number of attractive girls” to provide viewers with a different face each week.
By the 1960s, blonde model Rosalie Ashley was the new regular hostess.
The final episode of Television Dancing Club was broadcast on Monday 16 March 1964.
Victor Silvester died in 1978 while on holiday in the south of France, aged 78. His orchestra remained in existence under his son’s direction until the 1990s.