1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 4 (UK)
144 x 25 minute episodes
Ayshea was born Ayshea Hague on 12 November 1948 in Highgate, London, and made her film debut at the age of nine. By the age of 17, she had a record deal with Philips Fontana and made a number of appearances on TV shows such as Thank Your Lucky Stars and Discotheque.
It was Granada TV producer Muriel Young who hired Ayshea to present and star in her own pop show, Lift Off With Ayshea (essentially a slightly tweaked version of Young’s earlier show, Discotheque) in 1969.
Debuting on Wednesday 5 November 1969 and originally simply titled Lift Off – the “With Ayshea” was added in April 1972 – the series eventually ran for 144 episodes, although sadly, only two complete episodes remain in the ITN archive.
Ayshea was joined by dance troupe The Feet (originally The Ken Martyne Dancers), resident band The Pattern, and initially Graham Bonney as co-presenter – he left after one series.
She was also joined by puppet owl Ollie Beak (voiced by Wally Whyton) – formerly of Five O’Clock Club – until 1973. Puppet dog Fred Barker was also seen in some later editions.
Being a children’s show, there was a lot of knock-about humour built in and the programme also strayed into playing clips from family movies at one point, but it did provide some useful chart coverage at a time when such a thing was a scarce commodity.
Ayshea was quoted in the weekly column she wrote for Look-In during the 1970s as saying “I’m positive that the Americans will land on Mars in 1972”. Fortunately, she knew a lot more about pop music . . .
After starring in pantomimes and summer shows all over the UK, Ayshea built up a large following for her live cabaret performances.
She and Chris Brough were divorced in the 1970s.
It was at this time that she represented Great Britain at the World Song Festival (in Tokyo) with a song written for her by Elton John entitled The Flowers Will Never Die.
Following an engagement to Roy Wood – who produced her single Farewell – she later married Steve Alder who was starring as Jesus Christ in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ Superstar.
After five years it was deemed that Lift Off had run its course and Muriel Young began to put together a successor show called 45 which was aimed at a slightly older audience.
Ayshea once again got involved but by the time it had picked up national coverage, Radio Luxembourg‘s Kid Jensen had been installed as host.
Ayshea moved to Los Angeles and appeared in the movies Demolition Man and Gotcha.
Married to CBS president Michael I Levy, Beverly Hills became her permanent home. For many years she was a well-known Beverly Hills socialite and ran a property development and interior design business.
The Ken Martyne Dancers