Legs & Co.
Legs & Co. were a dance troupe created in 1976 for the BBC's weekly Top Of The Pops programme, performing over three hundred times on this show by the time of their last performance in 1981. The group then continued for four further years on tour. The six-girl dance troupe replaced Ruby Flipper on Top Of The Pops, representing a reversion to the earlier all-female format for troupes on this show, and covering the time period where the disco, punk and new wave music fashions were at their chart peak.
- 1 Top of the Pops dance troupe history
- 2 Legs & Co. on Top of the Pops
- 2.1 Initial line-up and name
- 2.2 Performances on the show
- 2.3 Performances outside the show in this era
- 2.4 Additional dancers
- 2.5 Reception
- 2.6 The final year of Legs & Co. on Top of the Pops
- 3 Legs & Co. members after Top of the Pops
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Top of the Pops dance troupe history
Legs & Co. were the fourth dance troupe to perform on the BBC's Top of The Pops. The tenure of the first group, the Go-Jos, ran from 1964 to 1968, with Pan's People then taking over until April 1976. This group were choreographed for its entire existence by Flick Colby, who also was initially a dancer in the troupe. Ruth Pearson performed as one of the dancers in this group throughout its run on the programme, retiring when the group was replaced.
Pan's People were succeeded by Ruby Flipper, a mixed-gender and mixed-race group, choreographed by Colby and managed by Pearson. This group's short run was terminated in October 1976. Different accounts of this group's demise are given - Colby's recollection of this time was "[a BBC executive] called me in and said the British public didn’t want to see black men dancing with white women...I argued, but he told me to form another all-girl group or I was out.”. However, audience research by the producers also indicated Ruby Flipper were not popular amongst its TV audience. Colby formed a new group, again managed by herself and Pearson, retaining the remaining three female dancers from Ruby Flipper and adding three new dancers following auditions. This replacement was the group that came to be known as Legs & Co.
Due to improvements in the BBC archival process and the increase in off-air recordings from the mid-1970s, unlike the previous three groups all performances at least partially survive with the vast bulk complete.
Legs & Co. on Top of the Pops
Initial line-up and name
The three remaining female Ruby Flipper members were retained for the new group. These were:
- Lulu Cartwright, now in her second troupe following her stint in Ruby Flipper
- Patti Hammond, who started her career in the Royal Ballet, before moving into modern and TV dancing, including appearing with the Second Generation.
- Sue Menhenick who was now in her third Top Of The Pops dance troupe, having also been a member of Pan's People
Following a set of auditions, the following dancers were added:
- Rosemary Hetherington, a student at the Italia Conti stage school
- Pauline Peters, who had appeared on stage in various West End productions and in the dance troupe Young Generation
- Gill Clark, a runner-up in the Miss UK 1976 contest - added as the sixth and last member after the final audition.
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", the group was still unnamed. 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 the Top of the Pops of 4 November 1976, with the competition winner in attendance, Elaine Coombes.
Performances on the show
As with all dance troupes on Top of the Pops, Legs & Co. performed routines to songs of various musical styles, reflecting what was in the charts at the time. While this performances would often include dance records for example disco and soul music, less dance-orientated musical styles were also included including tracks from Punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, novelty songs and in the final year, medley songs.
The costumes were made specially for each performance, with the designs created by Flick Colby and the dress designer each Thursday for the next show. Whilst in the vast bulk of performances contemporary costumes were used, humour was occasionally used resulting in unconventional costumes including dressing as boxers, babies and a camel.
The typical schedule for a recorded Top of the Pops was as follows:
- Wednesday: The show was recorded at Television Centre including the Legs & Co. segment. A track was selected the same evening for the following week's show by the producer, occasionally giving Flick Colby a limited choice.
- Thursday: The performance for the new track had staging and costumes planned by Flick Colby with the staging and costume managers. The show based on the previous day's recording was broadcast
- Monday: Usually, the first day of rehearsing at the BBC North Acton rehearsal studios, with choreography created through the rehearsals, and costume fitting in the afternoon. Occasionally, the rehearsing could begin the previous Friday.
- Tuesday: Charts released. Either second day of rehearsal of the planned track, or a new track was selected if the prechosen one was no longer required for the show, and the new track was choreographed, staged, costumed and rehearsed. A new track was a common occurrence, once with 5 editions in a row requiring new tracks.
- Wednesday: There was a non-costumed studio run through in the late morning with cameras (and band, if a band was involved). The full show dress rehearsal was done in the late afternoon in Television Centre. The performance itself was recorded with the studio audience in the evening. Normally it was done in two takes with close-ups in the second take. Due to the studio schedule, there was often no opportunity for further takes and so minor errors were often kept in the edited version.
The troupe could also rehearse for and perform up to three cabaret performances prior to the following Monday.
The BBC only holds in their library master tapes for all Top of the Pops episodes broadcast after 8 September 1977, with only partial coverage up to this date. Nine editions in the Legs & Co era do not have master tapes in the BBC library, though all missing performances survive either in off-air recordings or master copies, though not all are complete. The following table shows for each year the number of performances on the show, the number of repeats of these performances, and the number of wiped performances, with totals on the bottom row.
The episodes not in the BBC archive are:
|11/11/1976||Hank C Burnette -Spinning Rock Boogie||90 seconds only survives from a copy of a master tape|
|18/11/1976||Peter Frampton - Do You Feel Like We Do||60 seconds only survives from a copy of a master tape, the official naming of the group was on this episode and is lost.|
|2/12/1976||Queen - Somebody to Love||Off-air exists|
|16/12/1976||The Stylistics - You'll Never Get To Heaven||Off-air exists|
|10/02/1977||Heatwave - Boogie Nights||Off-air exists|
|3/3/1977||David Bowie - Sound And Vision||Off-air exists|
|31/3/1977||David Soul - Going in With My Eyes Open||Off-air exists - played as part of BBC4 rerun|
|4/8/1977||Candi Staton - Nights On Broadway||Off-air exists|
|8/9/1977||Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene||Off-air exists|
Performances outside the show in this era
As well as their regular appearances on Top of the Pops, Legs & Co. as a full group appeared on other productions of the time including:
- BBC TV's Jim'll Fix It in 1978 as part of a viewer's 'Fix It'.
- The film The Stud in 1978, dancing to a performance by The Real Thing
- BBC TV's Blue Peter. in 1979 - the troupe danced to Mike Oldfield's arrangement of the programme's theme tune.
- The 1979 British Rock and Pop Awards dancing to a medley of 1978 hits
- ATV's Tiswas, in 1980 as both guests and performers.
- BBC internal Christmas tapes, produced by production staff
They also did cabaret at the weekends as this fitted into their production schedule; however, they had to remain predominantly UK-based during their Top of the Pops era due to the need to be rehearsing for the show each Monday. Sue Menhenick recalled "As legs & co progressed more with cabaret, [our] shows became more of a 'show' rather than just 'a routine and then someone else would come on', which was the case with Pan's People sometimes, so we did more of a running show.". By 1980, they had a 45-minute set.
Change in line-up
The original Legs & Co. line-up ran from October 1976 to 19 March 1981, when Pauline Peters left the group. She was replaced on 28 May 1981 by singer and dancer Anita Chellamah following auditions. Frances Ruffelle was an unsuccessful applicant.
Though the seven Legs & Co. dancers never had stand-ins, on several occasions other dancers appeared together with Legs & Co. on Top of the Pops, shown in the following table. The additional dancer(s) accompanied the full troupe in each case unless otherwise stated.
|23/12/1976||Floid Pearce||I Wish||Stevie Wonder||N|
|25/12/1976||6 unknown (in animal costumes)||Jungle Rock||Hank Mizell||N|
|14/4/1977||Floid Pearce||Lonely Boy||Andrew Gold||N|
|16/6/1977||Floid Pearce||You're Gonna Get Next To Me||Bo Kirkland and Ruth Davis||N|
|11/8/1977||Floid Pearce||I Feel Love||Donna Summer||N|
|25/12/1977||Floid Pearce||Sir Duke||Stevie Wonder||N|
|25/5/1978||Floid Pearce||Let's Go Disco||The Real Thing||N|
|25/5/1978||Floid Pearce||You're the One That I Want||John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John||N|
|21/9/1978||Floid Pearce||You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)||Sylvester||N|
|19/10/1978||Martin (with Patti Hammond)||Sandy||John Travolta||N|
|25/12/1978||Floid Pearce + 5 other males||Summer Nights||John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John||N|
|13/8/1981||Alex (with Gill Clark)||How Deep Is Your Love section of Startrax Club Disco||StarTrax||Y|
|24/8/1981||Jeremy (with Lulu Cartwright)||Endless Love||Lionel Richie||Y|
In latter-day radio and newspaper interviews and two books claims have been made that an additional dancer appeared in Legs & Co. during their Top Of The Pops tenure variously as a full member, a two-time contributor, or in an unspecified precursor of the group. However, there is no independent evidence for any further female dancers from either primary BBC sources or the shows themselves. In addition, an original member stated "[she] was never [...] in Legs and Co, either in cabaret with us or appearing on TOTPs".
The following displays the timeline for Top of the Pops dancers between 1974 and 1983, showing the transition of dancers between the troupes. This is a complete list, with the following exceptions and notes:
- Other than those who appeared in previous troupes, Zoo dancers are not shown - the performances by previous troupe members are shown individually rather than as a time period.
- Non-troupe dancers brought in by individual acts for other performances on Top of the Pops are not listed
- Audience participants are not listed
- The Pan's People Jungle Rock animal performers are assumed to be the dancers themselves therefore not indicated with 'Others'.
- The Legs & Co Jungle Rock animal performers are listed though their professional status is unknown, they are listed as 'Others'
- DJs are not listed where they appeared in a dance
- Ruth Pearson's appearance on 'Harvest for the World' on 22/7/1976 is shown
- The 'Others' are composed of the Ruth Pearson appearance, Legs & Co Jungle Rock performers, Floid Pearce in his Legs & Co performances and the uncredited males on 'Summer Nights'.
- The uncredited Legs & Co. repeats of 31 December 1981 are shown
The full-height vertical lines indicate the last performance of each troupe.
Legs & Co. gained a pin up status much like Pans People. According to Lulu Cartwright "... we didn't really think about it all that much. It was very flattering. People would come up to you in the street. It wasn't overbearing and certainly not a problem. You could go out of your front door without someone recognising you"
The final year of Legs & Co. on Top of the Pops
By 1981, a new producer, Michael Hurll, frequently relegated Legs and Co to backing dancers. Also by this time they were often not used as producers found it easier to use a video than include a routine. By July, the dancers knew their tenure was soon ending. Their last lead performance was on 15 October 1981 to The Tweets' The Birdie Song; and on 29 October they danced behind Haircut 100 during their performance of Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl).
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. They were choreographed by Colby, and consisted of a rotating pool of 12 male and 12 female performers. Their first performance was dancing to Twilight by ELO.
Legs & Co. members after Top of the Pops
Later Top Of The Pops appearances
On 17 December 1981, Sue Menhenick made a final appearance on TOTP, with a solo routine to "I'll Find My Way Home" by Jon & Vangelis. 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.
The whole troupe appeared uncredited on 31 December 1981 'Hits of 1981' 'Top of the Pops', dancing behind Shakin' Stevens whilst he sang 'Green Door' (originally aired 13 August 1981), and with Anneka and Japanese Boy (originally aired 27 August 1981).
On the 12 August 1982 edition of 'TOTP', for the opening number, Anita Chellamah (under the surname Mahadervan) appears with the group Toto Coelo performing their hit 'I Eat Cannibals Part 1'. Presenter John Peel makes no mention of Anita's past association with either Legs & Co or 'TOTP'. Anita and Toto Coelo appeared two weeks later on the 28th August 1982 edition of 'TOTP' to perform 'I Eat Cannibals Part 1' again.
In a retrospective segment on the 1000th and 20th anniversary editions of Top of the Pops, broadcast 5 May 1983 & 5 January 1984, a photo of Legs & Co briefly appeared on screen.
Legs & Co. 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. However several members had left at the end of the Top of the Pops period; the new line-up had Hammond, Cartwright and Menhenick joined by Patricia McSherry (who also danced with Dee Dee Wilde's Pan's People), Sandra Easby and Liz Green. Ruth Pearson and Flick Colby ceased to manage the group; Cartwright managed the group in this latter period. This line-up appeared in a 1982 television commercial for the Milk Marketing Board as part of their Gotta Lotta Bottle campaign.
Later Easby and Green left and Tanya Lee joined. In 1983 this line-up appeared on TV-am, where the group discussed looking for a new name and perform a routine,; the group were eventually renamed Smax (one of the losing names in the 1976 naming competition) for the remainder of their existence.
Documentaries and other appearances
- Gill Clark made a brief acting appearance in Minder in 1980
- Pauline Peters made a brief acting appearance in Tenko in 1981.
- Lulu and Patti appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks in the 'Identity Parade' feature in 1997.
- 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 named "Top Of The Pops: The True Story". In the programme, they discussed their memories of their time on the show. The documentary was first transmitted on 1 January 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 didn't make the series. 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.
- Legs & Co members have appeared three times on Shaun Tilley's Top of the Pop Playback, each time with Sue Menhenick, and additionally with Pauline Peters on 18/12/2016, Rosie Hetherington on 25/6/2017 and Lulu Cartwright on 19/6/2016
2011 Top of the Pops rerun
From April 2011, the BBC began showing on BBC4 and iplayer weekly all broadcastable episodes from the BBC library from April 1976 onwards which from original dates in October 1976 covered the Legs & Co period on the programme. As master tapes for 9 episodes in the Legs & Co era are not held by the BBC, all these shows were absent from the rerun, except the March 31st 1977 edition, where an off-air recording was used. From October 2012, editions covered by DJs who formed part of Operation Yewtree were no longer rebroadcast as part of the ongoing rerun.
Sue Menhenick and Lulu Cartwright appeared as interviewees of the BBCs' The Story of Top Of The Pops, produced at the start of each rerun year, for the year 1978, and Menhenick on her own for 1979 and 1981.
- "BBC - Top of the Pops 2 - Trivia - Presenters". TOTP2. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
Legs and Co were on between 1976 and 1981.
- "BBC - Top of the Pops 2 - Trivia - Presenters". TOTP2. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- "Bruno/anthea". MailOnline. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "It's a tough life being a dancer -TOTP annual 1980". BBC. p. 42. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
The BBC told me they had interviewed the audiences for Top of the Pops, and it was the audiences who said they disliked mixed groups
- "L&C Queen of My Soul". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- Andee Bee (2012-10-06), The Top of The Pops Dancers [??????] - Introduction - TOTP TX: 21/10/76, retrieved 2017-05-09
- "Legs and Co". Top of the Pops 2. BBC. Nov 2002. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- "Sylvester - You Make me feel (Mighty Reel)". Youtube. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
- "Maxine Nightingale". Youtube. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
- "L&C Sex Pistols". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C Sex Pistols". youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L& C Clash". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Birdie Song". Youtube. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
- "Stars on 45 vol 2 and Legs and Co". Youtube. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- "Legs & Co - Jackie Magazine". Jackie Magazine.
We spend most of our time getting the fabric, if you don't get the fabric to the dressmaker on Thursday after the show, then you're not going to get you're clothes in time for next week
- "Legs & Co Love Hit Me". Youtube. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- Glenn Marshall (2013-06-11), Legs & Co - 'Born To Be Alive' Top Of The Pops Patrick Hernandez, retrieved 2017-05-12
- Andee Bee (2012-12-16), Legs & Co - Egyptian Reggae - TOTP TX: 24/11/1977 & 15/12/1977, retrieved 2017-05-12
- "Lulu on TOTP2". BBC. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
- Hill, Nicola (2015-02-16). "How I realised a dream and joined Legs&Co (sort of!)". Telegraph. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
- "Genome". The Radio Times (3008): 54. 1981-07-02. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
- "Genome". BBC Genome. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
- Andee Bee (2013-03-05), Legs & Co - Spinning Rock Boogie [Incomplete] - TOTP TX: 11/11/1976 [Wiped], retrieved 2017-05-12
- "L&C on Jim';ll Fix IT". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C on Blue Peter". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "British rock and Pop awards". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C on Tiswas". Youtube. Youtube. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "White Powder Christmas". Youtube. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "Instant Replay". Youtube. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- Legs & Co - TOTP 28/10/1976 [Sue & Lulu interview] - TOTP Playback TX: 18/08/2013 http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x13mdm7_legs-co-totp-28-10-1976-sue-lulu-interview-totp-playback-tx-18-08-2013_creation. Retrieved 25 May 2017. Missing or empty
- "Frances Ruffelle". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "L&C Ain't no stopping". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Jungle Rock with Legs & Co". Youtube. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- "L&C i feel love". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C Sir Duke". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C Let's go disco". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C You're the one that I want". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C You Make Me Feel Mighty Real". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C Sandy". Youtube. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- "L&C Summer nights". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C and starTrax". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "L&C and Endless Love". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Patience Bradley on Vinny Hurrell show". BBC Radio Ulster. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&text=Patience+Bradley&search-alias=books-uk&field-author=Patience+Bradley&sort=relevancerank. Retrieved 5 May 2017. Missing or empty
- . Portodown Times http://www.portadowntimes.co.uk/news/ex-vogue-model-and-legs-and-co-dancer-is-special-guest-at-college-ladies-night-1-1652004. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
From then on, the only way was up and Patience - formerly Patti Lawrence - won a place with the Top of the Pops dance troupe, Legs and Co., which earned her national recognition and a huge male fan-base.Missing or empty
- . Belfast Telegraph http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/news/former-model-patience-bradleys-anger-at-being-rubbished-for-legs-co-story-in-her-memoirs-35661281.html. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
She says: "I don't say that I was a member of Legs & Co, but I did dance with them a couple of times.Missing or empty
- "Former dancer and Vogue model Patience Bradley talks about her time working with Legs and Co dance troupe". Belfast Telegraph. Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
I wasn’t [in] one of the main groups, There were quite a few legs & co even before the legs and co were started…
- "BBC TOTP2".
- "Former model Patience Bradley's anger at being rubbished for Legs & Co story in her memoirs". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- "TOTP2 Lulu Cartwright". BBC TOTP2. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- "Legs & Co - TOTP 19/02/1981 [Sue & Pauline Interview] - TOTP Playback TX: 24/11/2013". Dailymotion. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
We were given the week off as there was nothing for us to do.
- "TOTP - the sory of 1981". Youtube.
We were aware certainly by July that the writing was on the wall.Missing or empty
- "The birdie song on TOTP". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Legs & Co and Haircut 100". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- McKie, John (January 2014). "Top 10 pop picks as TOTP turns 50". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "Zoo and twilight". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Sue I'll find my way home". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Toto Coelo". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Top of the Pops 05/01/1984". BBC. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- "Gotta Lotta Bottle". Youtube. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- "Legs & Co on TV-AM". Youtube. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Legs & Co - TOTP 28/10/1976 [Sue & Lulu interview] - TOTP Playback TX: 18/08/2013". Dailymotion. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
Lulu Cartwright - "Strange names like Smax"
- "Minder - Gill". Youtube. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "Tenko - Pauline Peters". Youtube. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "Never Mind the Buzzcocks - Identity Parade". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "Top of the Pops: The True Story". Youtube.
- "Ant and Dec Saturday Takeaway". Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- "Top of the Pops Playback". Soundcloud. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- "Top of the Pops playback". Soundcloud. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- "Top of the Pops playback". Soundcloud. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- One for the Dads: Digging the dancing queens of TV pop: Pan's People, Legs and Co, Ruby Flipper and others
- A list of all the songs danced to by Legs and Co on TOTP
- BBC's overview of Legs & Co.
- BFI listing (near-complete)