This week’s teen sensation Cliff Richard (who, incidentally, is still sexy at 70!*) was completely unknown when he was selected by TV producer Jack Good to be a resident artist on his new music programme. Good had previously produced the BBC’s first Rock ‘n’ Roll show, Six-Five Special, created in the wake of successful shows like American Bandstand in the USA. These programmes typically had a magazine format (like the Corny Collins Show in musical Hairspray), but Good felt that this detracted from the music. Frustrated by the BBC’s insistence on including educational and informational elements in Six-Five Special, he left for the greener pastures of ITV.
“I hate smart looking fellows in dinner jackets saying ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to… blah blah blah..’ and it goes on! I just want wham bam de boo bop, do wop bam boo… tutti fruitti… then next number, next number… and bored with that… next number!” Jack Good, 1981
At ITV Good was let loose to create the non-stop Pop extravaganza that was Oh Boy! This was the UK’s first all-music television show for teenagers, and from 1958 it showcased the latest hits from it’s resident artists and weekly guests. Oh Boy! had a high energy, highly rehearsed format, moving seamlessly from song to song. Have a look:
Did you spot Cliff in the line-up at 1:20? He’s second from the left.
Oh Boy! gave a seventeen year-old Cliff Richard his big break, and Jack Good even had a hand in the decision to release Move It as Cliff’s first single instead of a cover song. As Move It was a huge hit, and subsequently hailed as the first British Rock ‘n’ Roll track, this was clearly a good move! But Cliff was not the only resident artist on the show; Oh Boy! had a whole cast of regular contributers, and to go with the shows a compilation album of songs by the resident artists was released, the Oh Boy! LP.
Oh Boy! ended after 38 shows in 1959, having hosted the first television appearances of many singers that became household names. It was on the air for less than a year, but its fabulous fast-paced format launched a star that just keeps on going…