One of the great British pop music television shows of the 1960s, "Thank Your Lucky Stars" was often recorded at the Alpha ATV/ABC studios in Aston Birmingham for ABC Weekend Television. Many will remember watching this on Saturday night to catch a view of their favorite music stars and hear the latest records.
This iconic show that ran from 1961 to 1966 was typical of the time in that it showed mimed performances to a young teenage audience, predominantly girls, who were often instructed to "SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU CAN..." when the stars took to the stage. Many in the audience were lucky local pop music fans who applied for free tickets and took the Inner Circle 8 bus to the studio on Aston Road.
The biggest recording stars of the day were featured such as Billy Fury, Adam Faith, Cliff and The Shadows, Susan Maughan, The Vernons Girls, and Jess Conrad. American stars also made appearances including Gene Vincent, Bobby Vee, Gene Pitney, Brenda Lee, and The Crickets. Some of the performances were pre-recorded and inserted into the show if the artist was unavailable.
The program reached its height of popularity during the "Mersey Beat Boom" of the early 1960's when many Liverpool bands were featured including of course The Beatles who made their second national television appearance on the show in January 1963. Other great bands featured were The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Animals, and The Who.
Thank Your Lucky stars also created stars of its own, possibly the most memorable being teenager Janice Nicholls from Wednesbury who helped present the "Spin a Disc" part of the show on which she and others on the team of "judges" would rate the latest records on a scale of one to five.
Janice would memorably say; "Oi'll give it foive" in a strong Black Country accent that was soon a catch phrase. Janice became a regular on the show. She later married Brian Meecham who fronted his own group called Brian Gulliver and The Travellers who were well known locally.
Legendary UK broadcaster Pete Murray presented Thank Your Lucky Stars when the show first aired in April 1961. He was soon joined by radio disc jockey Keith Fordyce who also hosted the show until he left in 1965. Various "guest" presenters and DJs included such well known names as Alan Freeman, Jimmy Young, and Jimmy Savile.
The best known host on Thank Your Lucky Stars was Brian Matthew who joined in 1962 and is remembered today as the longest running broadcaster on the BBC with an incredible career spanning more than 60 years! His position on the show was taken in 1965 by British pop star Jim Dale who went on to a long acting career which included appearances in the famous "Carry On" comedy films.
Pop groups from the West Midlands were also featured on Thank Your Lucky Stars. These included; Keith Powell and The Valets, The Redcaps, Pat Wayne and The Beachcombers, The Sundowners, Gerry Levene and The Avengers, The Applejacks, The Brumbeats, The Wolves, The Rockin' Berries, The Moody Blues, The Modernaires, The Spencer Davis Group, The Fortunes, The Uglys, and The Craig.
Sadly, very little video remains today of Thank Your Lucky Stars despite the hundreds of episodes made. As with many British TV shows made during the 1960s, shortsightedness along with pressure to economize resulted in the expensive video tapes re-used, erased, or thrown away. This could be why the program has been mostly forgotten in contrast to other similar shows of which more footage still exists.
A book by Birmingham author Kevin Mulrennan titled; "Thank Your Lucky Stars - A History of ABC Weekend Television's Pop Show" and published by Amazon is full of information about the show. This book includes a brief history, episode guide, personal recollections of those who were on the show, and even a complete script from October 1962.
There's also a "Kindle" electronic edition of Kevin's book available on Amazon for a much reduced price of the paperback version. Click HERE for more information.