1 9 7 6 (UK)
7 x 60 minute episodes
1 9 7 7 (UK)
2 x 60 minute episodes
In 1976, Johnnie Hamp – the executive producer for light entertainment at Granada Television – came up with a novel take on the pop scene when he put together The International Pop Proms for ITV.
Intended to be the pop equivalent of the BBC’s The Proms from the Royal Albert Hall in London, Hamp’s series promised a mixture of pop and classics, everything “from Bizet to Bacharach, through ragtime to rock’n’roll”, performed by guests such as Marty Wilde, Demis Roussos, Duane Eddy, Johnny Mathis, Georgie Fame, Alvin Stardust, Buddy Greco, Alan Price, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Mungo Jerry and Roy Orbison.
The stars were supported by the Les Humphries Singers and the 50-piece International Pop Proms Orchestra that included a string section brought in from the Hallé Orchestra and was conducted by pop composer Les Reed or a guest conductor – George Martin, Tony Hatch and Elmer Bernstein all waved the baton.
Most of the shows were recorded in front of a 4,000-strong audience at the King’s Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester. But the place had seen better days.
The summer of 1975, when the initial shows were recorded, was hot and, at times, wet. Temperatures topped 37°C (100ºF) at one point, warping the instruments; on another occasion, rain poured in and caused the ink dots on the sheet music to run.
“The hall was falling to pieces,” remembers Hamp. “There were holes in the roof, and the girls were shoving the violins up their skirts to keep the rain off.”
Two later editions, shown in 1977, came from the more secure location of the Guildhall, Preston. One was dedicated to the music of the 1950s and the other to the music of the 1960s, featuring Sandie Shaw, Freddie & The Dreamers, The Searchers, Billy J Kramer and Gerry Marsden.