Ready Steady Go!
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|Ready Steady Go|
Manfred Mann performing at RSG! studio.
|Starring||Keith Fordyce and Cathy McGowan|
|Original release||9 August 1963 – 23 December 1966|
Ready Steady Go! (or RSG!) was a British rock/pop music television programme every Friday evening from 9 August 1963 until 23 December 1966. It was conceived by Elkan Allan, head of Rediffusion TV. Allan wanted a light entertainment programme different from the low-brow style of light entertainment transmitted by ATV. The programme was produced without scenery or costumes and with a minimum of choreography and make-up. Allan recruited a fellow journalist, Francis Hitching, as producer. Hitching became a major figure in light entertainment in the 1960s. Robert Fleming was the first director, followed by the documentary director Rollo Gamble, then Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Daphne Shadwell and Peter Croft.
The show gained its highest ratings on 20 March 1964 when it featured the Beatles being interviewed and performing "It Won't Be Long", "You Can't Do That" and "Can't Buy Me Love" - the last a hit at the time.
RSG! USA! was a Dick Clark production in 1964. A trademark infringement suit ended the show after six episodes.
The show went out early on Friday evenings with the line "The weekend starts here!", and was introduced by the Surfaris' "Wipe Out", later by Manfred Mann's "5-4-3-2-1", then Manfred Mann's "Hubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble", then the Stones, lastly, with "Goin Home"). It was more youth-orientated and informal than its BBC rival (from 1964), Top of the Pops. It was notable for featuring the audience as dancers and for the interaction of artists and audience. Artists appeared on different mini-stages, sometimes on studio gantries and stairs, or on the main floor for solo artists, closely surrounded by the audience. The producers choose the audience in London clubs, picking out the best or the most fashionably dressed dancers. This ensured a hip audience in tune with the artists.
Owing to scheduling of local news in parts of the UK, several ITV regions joined the show part-way through.
Initially, RSG! artists mimed but by late 1964 some performed live and the show switched to all-live performances in April 1965. It was noted for allowing artists to perform the full version of songs rather than short versions demanded by other shows. The programme was never broadcast in the United States, perhaps because it was in black and white when ABC, CBS and NBC were converting to full colour.
The show was recorded at small studios in Rediffusion's headquarters in Kingsway, London. Although the company had bigger facilities at Wembley in the west of the capital, it was easier to attract stars and audiences to central London. As the studios were compact it was not possible to hide cameras. The ever-present cameras, which were large with rotating lens turrets rather than zooms, were sometimes incorporated into the action, notably in a Manfred Mann performance of Machines which ended with Paul Jones singing crouched on the floor surrounded by cameras.
RSG was originally from Studio 9 in Kingsway when artists mimed; it later moved to Studio 5 at Wembley, enabling artists to perform live. Artists' own recorded backing tracks were not allowed by the Musicians' Union so the whole of Studio 5 (normally divided into 5a and 5b) was used so an orchestra could perform the backing live.
In late 1966, when the 'beat boom' was fading, the show was cancelled, despite its popularity. Dave Clark bought the rights to the surviving recordings. Compilations were broadcast on Channel 4 in the 1980s and VHS videos included a Beatles live special and The Sounds of Motown special edition. In 1989 the show was seen for the first time in the US, on Disney Channel. During that time, Disney was a pay channel aimed at adults at night. Ready Steady Go! has not been officially released on DVD.
Presenters and producers
The best known presenters were Keith Fordyce and Cathy McGowan, though early shows were introduced by Dusty Springfield. The show was occasionally presented by David Gell and Michael Aldred. Both McGowan and Aldred joined after answering an advertisement for "a typical teenager" as adviser. They found themselves presenting the show, and McGowan's status as a fan was evident in her style; stumbling over lines, losing her cool and her inexperience made her more rather than less popular, and by the end she was presenting alone. She also joined in fun and games, including miming with the Rolling Stones to other people's records, notably "I Got You Babe".
It featured most successful artists of the era, among them the Who, the Beatles, the Hollies, the Zombies, Dusty Springfield, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Walker Brothers, the Kinks, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Fourmost, the Rolling Stones, Donovan (discovered by RSG!), the Fortunes, Helen Shapiro, P.J. Proby, Otis Redding, Freddie and the Dreamers, the Dave Clark Five, Bobby Vee, the Animals, Cilla Black, Gulliver's People, the Searchers, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Billy Fury, Lulu, Marvin Gaye, Gene Pitney, the Beach Boys, Sandie Shaw, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Lynch, the Small Faces, James Brown & the Famous Flames, the Yardbirds, Them and the Four Pennies. During the 4 October 1963 episode — The Beatles' first appearance — Paul McCartney judged four teenage girls miming to Brenda Lee's "Let's Jump the Broomstick" (the group had opened for Lee before becoming famous), choosing 13-year-old Melanie Coe as winner. Three years later, after Coe's disappearance made the front page of the Daily Mirror, McCartney used the article as the basis for "She's Leaving Home".
Dusty Springfield devised and introduced the RSG Motown Special in April 1965, featuring the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Miracles and Martha and the Vandellas, which was a VHS video in the 1980s. The Supremes performed their "Stop! In the Name of Love" dance routine for the first time on the show.
The Who proved particularly popular and in 1966 had an episode to themselves entitled Ready Steady Who. The Walker Brothers were also popular and had a live edition in 1966 but the tape was wiped, although extracts surfaced on YouTube in 2009 proving the group did not mime.
In popular culture
- In 1965 the programme was parodied in The Benny Hill Show (Hill impersonated Cathy McGowan, Peter & Gordon and a singer named P. J. Orbison (the amalgam of the names of P. J. Proby and Roy Orbison).
- Although not mentioned by name.. Ready, Steady, Go! was parodied in the 1967 film Bedazzled featuring comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (who both appeared on RSG!).
- In the mod film Quadrophenia, the main character is watching the Who perform on Ready Steady Go!.
- In episode 3 of Alan Plater's 1995 TV drama "Oliver's Travels", Oliver (played by Alan Bates) says "Ready, Steady, Go!", to which his B&B hostess (played by Molly Sugden) replies, "If you're old enough to know that, you're as old as you look."
- English group Generation X wrote a song about the show "Ready Steady Go" in 1978, which made various references and had the lyric "because I'm in love with Cathy McGowan".
- As part of the Southbank's Meltdown Festival 2011, curator Ray Davies recreated Ready Steady Go on Saturday 11 June.
- Producers Retrieved on 2013-12-12.
- Ian Inglis, Popular Music And Television In Britain (Ashgate Publishing, 2010) pp71-72
- Tv.com Ready Steady Goes Live! Episode Number: 88 Season Num: 2 First Aired: 2 April 1965 - Accessed February 2007.
- Ready Steady Gone Johnnie Taylor, Modculture.com, Accessed April 2011
- The Beatles Live - Ready Steady Go Special Edition (1964)
- Ready Steady Go! Special Edition - The Sounds of Motown
- Ready Steady Go! Special Edition - The Sounds of Motown
- Caspar Llewellyn Smith (24 March 2011). "Ray Davies reveals lineup for 2011 Meltdown festival | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
- "Meltdown First Anouncement". Festivals for All. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-21.