Legs & Co.
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The new dance troupe were formed as a hasty replacement for Ruby Flipper, a multi-racial and mixed-sex septet (later sextet and quintet) who took over dancing duties on Top of the Pops from the long-running female dance group Pan's People in May 1976. The troupe were put together, and managed by, choreographer and founding member of Pan's People, Flick Colby, and fellow Pan's People dancer Ruth Pearson.
The original Legs & Co. line-up consisted of:
- Lulu Cartwright
- Gillian (Gill) Clarke
- Patti Hammond
- Rosemary (Rosie) Hetherington
- Susan (Sue) Menhenick
- Pauline Peters
Menhenick (who replaced Louise Clarke as a member of Pan's People in 1974), Hammond and Cartwright had been members of Ruby Flipper, and it was decided that they should remain as part of the new line-up. Three further dancers were chosen to complete the sextet: Clarke had been a finalist in the Miss UK 1976 contest, Hetherington was a student at the Italia Conti stage school (now a teacher at Helen O'Grady Stage School), and Peters had appeared on stage in various West End productions.
The original Legs & Co. line-up stayed together longer than any of the various Pan's People line-ups, from October 1976 to March 1981. During their time on the show, only one personnel change occurred within the troupe; when Pauline Peters left the group on the 19 March 1981, she was eventually replaced on the 28 May 1981 by singer and dancer Anita Chellamah.
Legs & Co. on Top of the Pops
By the time of the new troupe's first appearance on Top of the Pops on 21 October 1976, dancing to the Average White Band's "Queen of My Soul", they had not come up with a name for themselves. For their first appearances, they were introduced as the "Top of the Pops" dancers, while their name was listed as "??????" on the end credits of three editions. The BBC decided to allow viewers to select a name for the new dance troupe via a competition promoted on Top of the Pops by Ed Stewart, after the girls made their dancing debut, and on the BBC children's programme Blue Peter. The name "Legs & Co." was chosen as the successful name. This was announced on 4 November 1976.
During their tenure as the Top of the Pops dance troupe, Legs & Co. performed routines to songs of various musical styles. They interpreted songs by punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash who never appeared in the TOTP studio (although the Sex Pistols did eventually make a studio appearance when they reunited for the "Filthy Lucre" tour in 1996), and were often seen in routine to the disco tracks of the time.
As well as their regular appearances on Top of the Pops, Legs & Co. appeared on other television programmes of the time, including Tiswas and Blue Peter. On the latter series, the troupe danced to Mike Oldfield's arrangement of the programme's theme tune.
Although the line-up of Legs & Co. was exclusively female, some Legs & Co. routines from 1976 to 1981 involved members of the group dancing with male partners.
Former member of Ruby Flipper, Floyd Pearce made nine guest appearances on Legs & Co. routines:
Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" on 23 December 1976, Andrew Gold's "Lonely Boy" on 14 April 1977, Bo Kirkland and Ruth Davis'"You're Gonna Get Next To Me" on 16 June 1977, Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" on 11 August 1977, Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" on 25 December 1977, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's "You're the One That I Want", The Real Thing's "Let's Go Disco" on 25 May 1978, Sylvester's "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real" on 21 September 1978 and finally, for the 25 December 1978 Top of the Pops Christmas Special with five other male dancers to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's "Summer Nights".
On 13 August 1981, an Anglo-Italian male dancer called Alex (who later became a TOTP "cheerleader" and one of the show's warm-up artists) danced with Clarke to the "How Deep Is Your Love" section of Startrax's "Startrax Club Disco".
The end of Legs & Co. on Top of the Pops
Legs & Co. made the last appearances as dancers on 'Top of the Pops' in October 1981. In their final months on 'TOTP', a period which coincided with the obvious emergence of a party atmosphere, Legs & Co. began to integrate more with the studio audience and could often be seen dancing in the background while a band performed on one of the stages.Nonetheless there are many fine dances in their final year including Lay All Your Love On Me, Hold On Tight and Hands Up. During the summer of 1981, Patti Hammond took a break from the troupe.
The troupe's last credited performance was on 15 October 1981, dancing to The Birdie Song by the Tweets, and the last edition to feature Legs & Co. was transmitted on 29 October 1981. In this edition, the girls danced to Haircut One Hundred's "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)", but merely relegated to dancing behind the band and among the studio audience.
On 5 November 1981, a week after Legs & Co.'s final on-screen appearance, Zoo, the final featured dance troupe to appear on Top of the Pops, made their debut.
On 17 December 1981, Sue Menhenick made a final appearance on TOTP, with a solo routine to Jon & Vangelis's "I'll Find My Way Home". Flick Colby gave Sue this final solo dance as a thank you. This marked Menhenick's final appearance as a dancer on Top of the Pops after over seven years, making her the second-longest serving dancer on the programme, after Ruth Pearson. Sue was credited as a member of Zoo in the end credits for the programme, making her unique in being credited for appearing as a member of four different dance troupes in her time on TOTP.
Life after Top of the Pops
After their last appearance on Top of the Pops, Legs & Co. spent a further four years performing at corporate events and cabaret shows. They also appeared in a 1982 television commercial for the Milk Marketing Board as part of their Gotta Lotta Bottle campaign. The line up, however had changed. Hammond, Cartwright and Menhenick were joined by Patricia McSherry, who also danced with Pan's People, Sandra Easby and Liz Green.
The original Legs & Co. line-up were reunited in late 2000 to take part in a documentary on the history of Top of the Pops. In the programme, all of the six original members discussed their memories of their time on the show. The documentary was first transmitted on New Year's Day 2001, repeated in December 2001, and a revised repeat was shown on 30 July 2006, the same day the final regular edition of Top of the Pops was broadcast.
The six original members also appeared on an edition of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway in January 2003 to surprise a member of the studio audience who had written to Jim'll Fix It as a child wishing to dance with Legs & Co., but whose request was ignored. The girls, minus Patti Hammond, along with the surprised member of the audience, later danced to Sister Sledge's "We Are Family", the first time members of Legs & Co. had danced on a British television series for 22 years.
|Top of the Pops dance troupes
- "Legs and Co". Top of the Pops 2. BBC. Nov 2002. Retrieved 17 April 2013.