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The Six-Five Special

On this day in 1957, viewers of BBC television were treated to an episode of the Beeb’s new rock ‘n’ roll programme, Six-Five Special.

Named after its broadcast time, 6:05pm, the series began in February 1957 and was introduced into the slot that was initially kept free of programming so parents could put young children to bed. Genuinely, TV broadcasts in the early years of television stopped between 6pm and 7pm, after children’s programming had finished, to allow them to be put to bed.

From 1957, though, there was an extra hour to fill and Six-Five Special fitted perfectly. Watching clips on YouTube it is not a million miles away from The Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops.

This particular episode features not one, not two, but three Goons.

There is a clip available on the BBC website featuring Spike Milligan promoting a device that can detect jelly, and appears briefly in this video of singer Michael Holliday performing ‘Old Cape Cod’.

The Nostalgia Central website claims Spike became a regular guest on the show, as did Don Lang and His Frantic Five, who can be heard here playing the show’s theme tune.

According to this article from the British Film Institute, the BBC and Six-Five Special producer Jack Good fell out over the corporation’s desire to shoehorn general interest elements into what was primarily a music and entertainment show.

In 1958 Good quit and joined ITV to launch a direct rival, Oh Boy!. It had only music, immediately became more popular than the BBC’s version, and so the original programme was cancelled.

Oh Boy! had a house band called Lord Rockingham’s XI, who hit the top of the charts in 1958 with ‘Hoots Mon’. It was later revived ska-style by Bad Manners. This video uses footage from Oh Boy! along with the studio recording of the track.

I include this only because I used to use it as the theme to a radio show I hosted when I was a student. And it's fun.

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