1 9 6 5 – 1 9 7 0 (UK)
64 x 25/45 minute episodes
1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 5 (UK)
38 x 30/50 minute episodes
Premiering on 5 June 1965, this long-running BBC variety show starred relaxed Irish crooner Val Doonican sitting in a rocking chair wearing cardigans or jumpers, playing the guitar and singing easy listening and country material – and often comedic Irish songs such as Paddy McGinty’s Goat, Delaney’s Donkey and O’Rafferty’s Motor Car.
Comedy newcomer Dave Allen was a featured regular on the show in 1965 and 1966).
Val’s guests included Lulu, Marianne Faithfull, Lonnie Donegan, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Adam Faith, Sandie Shaw, Julie Felix, The Bachelors, Kathy Kirby, Cilla Black, The Alan Price Set, Frank Ifield, Rolf Harris, The Beverley Sisters, Nana Mouskouri, David Nixon, Les Dawson, Arthur Askey, Roy Castle, Norman Vaughan, Derek Nimmo, Des O’Connor, Kenneth McKellar, Sheila Hancock, Ray Alan and Matt Monro.
At its peak, The Val Doonican Show attracted over 16 million viewers.
Val was lured away to ITV in November 1970 (thanks to a £1 million, five-year contract) for an almost identical series for ATV, although this time aimed at a transatlantic audience. He was joined regularly by comedians Bernard Cribbins and Sheila Steafel and – in 1974 and 1975 – by impressionist Paul Melba a resident singing group called Fabric, and Kenny Woodman and his orchestra.
His guests this time around included Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Burl Ives, Stéphane Grappelli, The New Seekers, Basil Brush, Ronnie Corbett, David Frost, Arthur Askey, Roger Whittaker, Eddie Albert, Jack Wild, Florence Henderson, Petula Clark, Bruce Forsyth, Harry Secombe, Charlie Drake, Olivia Newton-John, Acker Bilk, and many more.
By May 1975, Val was back at the BBC, where the Beeb made him lose the sweaters and rocking chair in favour of sharp suits and shiny shoes.
In April 1977, it became The Val Doonican Music Show which lasted until 1984 – with guests including Twiggy, Peter Sellers, Ray Charles, Nana Mouskouri, The Nolans, José Feliciano, Johnny Mathis, Rita Coolidge, Dennis Weaver, Max Bygraves, Engelbert Humperdinck, Chas & Dave, Des O’Connor, David Soul, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Anthony Newley, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, and Vera Lynn.
The last of his now-famous Christmas shows was broadcast in 1983.
In 1989, Val Doonican’s Homeward Bound became his last show. Doonican officially retired in 1990 but was still performing in 2009.
He died at a nursing home in Buckinghamshire on the evening of 1 July 2015, aged 88.
The Norman Maen Dancers
The Mike Sammes Singers
Kenny Woodman’s Orchestra