MILESAGO - Television
|THE GO!! SHOW|
DATE: August 1964 - August 1967
PRODUCERS: Julian Jover and Dennis Smith
The Go!! Show was arguably the most important Australian pop show of the Sixties and one of the two locally-made programs that provided a desperately needed alternative (some might even say antidote) to the all-pervasive and reliably unthreatening fare on Australia's leading "pop" show, the Nine Network's Bandstand. Like Bandstand, The Go!! Show was studiously modelled on an overseas examples -- Britain's Ready Steady Go!, and the famed Jack Good productions Thank Your Lucky Stars and Oh Boy! in the UK, and his vibrant American pop shows Shindig and Hullaballoo. It also proved that we could produce a local pop show featuring local talent that could be just as good as the overseas originals.
Notwithstanding its derivative origins, The Go!! Show soon developed its own identity and became one of the most popular and influential programs of its day, although sadly it was not widely seen around the country until its final year; TV networking in AUstralia was still in its infancy and stations in the nascent 0-10 network were still being opened over the course of the series. As a result, The Go!! Show's main popularity and influence was in its home city, Australia's pop capital of Melbourne. The program was however an early indicator of the growing importance of TV for popular music, and was instrumental in the breakthrough success of Melbourne's first new 'beat' acts, Bobby & Laurie, whose foot-stomping hit "I Belong With You" was launched on the show, as well as providing vital early exposure for many future stars like Olivia Newton-John.
The Go!! Show premiered in August 1964, just after The Beatles' momentous tour. It was produced in Melbourne by DYT Productions (a company that included veteran musician Horrie Dargie). It was filmed before a live audience, and one of its most notable features is that it featured local performers almost exclusively. The original host was Englishman Alan Field, who had come to Australia in June as the compere for that tour. From Episode 26 Field was replaced by actor/musician Ian "Turps" Turpie, who hosted until late 1966. He was replaced by pop star Johnny Young for the third series in 1966-67. Singer Buddy England (later a member of The Seekers) was one of the succesful auditionees for the premiere episode and was signed on as a regular for the entire run of the series.
The Go!! Show's original screen-time was three weekly one-hour episodes, but it was shortened to thirty minutes for its third series in 1966-1967. It was originally only shown only in Victoria but was later screened by interstate affiliates as new stations came on line in other cities.
The series was a huge succcess from the first episode, and was soon pulling in a regular audience of over 400,000 teenage viewers. DYT's original contract with Channel 0 was for 13 episodes, but Young Modern magazine reported in its November 25 edition that the show has become such a hit that after only seven weeks on air, Channel 0 had decided to extend the series by an additional 26 weeks.
Despite (or prehaps because of) the immediate success of The Go!! Show, Channel 0 took the unusual step of commissioning another pop series Kommotion, which premirered in early 1965. The decision to run two rival pop shows on one network was somewhat controversial. A contemporary press article from 1965 reported on Channel 0's decision to increase Kommotion's air-time to 3.5 hours, by adding a one-hour weekly special on Sundays. The article was critical of the decision to run the two shows in competition, expressing concern about over-saturating of the market and stretching the pool of local talent too thinly, and predicting that the more expensive Go!! Show might be cancelled in favour of its cheaper rival, simply on the basis of cost.
Kommotion (produced by the Willard-King organisation) originally screened for thirty minutes, five nights per week. It shared many acts with The Go!! Show, but differed in one crucial area -- while THe Go!! Show sometimes featured local acts performing covers of overseas hits, Kommotion went one step further by featuring segments in which 'performers' (including a young Molly and Ding-Dong) miming to recordings by overseas performers. This curious device obviously predated the widespread use of promotional filmclips, which rendered such quaint practices obsolete, and indeed this eventually led to the show's cancellation in 1967, after Actors Equity imposed a ban on the practice.
These concerns must have been taken to even greater heights in mid-1966, when the ABC stepped into the fray. Poaching Go!! Show faves Bobby & Laurie to star, Aunty set up its own lavishly produced national pop show, Dig We Must, which also featured many other Go!! Show and Kommotion regulars, but the series proved to be shortlived and was cancelled after only a few months on air.
British TV offers a comparison that illustrates the relationship between The Go!! Show and Kommotion. In the UK, pop TV was dominated by two complementary programs. One one hand was the iconic Ready Steady Go! (note the similarity in names), aimed at a more discerning young audience who were aware of current and emerging trends like Mod, Northern Soul, pop art, and the new black American sounds. On the other was the perennial weekly Top 10 chart show Top Of The Pops. In the Australian context, Kommotion was our 'Top of the Pops', handling mainstream charting pop acts, while The Go!! Show was our Ready Steady Go!, handling the more sophisticated end of the market.
The 0-10 network openly courted the youth audience, who avidly filled the Burwood studios for every taping. As noted above, its pop shows provided a refreshing alternative to the incrasingly staid variety fare on Bandstand -- and the new network (founded in 1965) offered a much-needed third outlet for local TV production. 0-10 quickly grabbed the lead in the youth demographic and produced all four of the best commerical TV pop shows of the late 60s and early 70s -- The Go!! Show, Kommotion, Uptight and Happening 70s. The Seven Network was the reluctant champion of local drama and comedy with shows like Homicide and Mavis Bramston, but it made few attempts to woo the pop market, and among their only serious forays into pop TV during the entire period were The Easybeats' Coca-Cola Special, Billy Thorpe's shortlived It's All Happening and the ill-fated pilot for The Twilights' Monkees-style TV series, Once Upon A Twilight in 1968, which never went to air.
The Go!! Show featured a heavyweight Melbourne roster that included many of the top stars of the day -- Normie Rowe, Bobby & Laurie, MPD Ltd, Merv Benton, Lynne Randell, Johnny Devlin, Colin Cook and The Twilights. Olivia Newton-John was a regular guest and made at least 16 appearances on the show between Feb. 1965 and Dec. 1966.
Immaculately-dressed in matching suits, house band The Strangers backed guesting solo singers and performed their own material. Their outlandish bull-horn guitars were exlusively supplied by Maton, one of the first sponsorship deals of its kind in Australian music.
This 'home team' was sufficently strong that The Go!! Show didn't need to rely on interstate acts, but it must be said that the occasional guest appearances of Sydneysiders like Thorpie, The Easybeats, Ray Brown & The Whispers, Tony Worsely & The Blue Jays, and even some more 'underground' acts like The Throb, were rapturously welcomed.
The Go!! Show was also unashamedly a vehicle for the stable of artists on the Go!! label, which was also owned by DYT's proprietors. The roster included some of the best of the Melbourne scene, mixing estalbished acts and newer artists Bobby & Laurie, MPD Ltd, The Strangers, The Henchmen, Laurie Angelo, The Cherokees, The Rondells, Billy Adams, 18th Century Quartet, and others. The label recorded some of the classic Melbbourne cuts of the day. The Go!! label acts naturally received considerable and regular exposure, and while it's doubtful that the ACCC would let a TV station do such a thing today, this was generally managed in such a way that wasn't too instrusive and didn't seem overly nepotistic. Like Kommotion it was dircetly linked to the booming Melbourne live scene, local fashion, the local press (well, Go-Set, anyway), local radio and local record production.
The Go!! Show years also straddled the formative years of Go-Set magazine, with which it shared a similar name, 'branding' and outlook. The Go!! Show and Go-Set enjoyed a close relationship, and with the Go!! label they formed a triumvirate that encapsulated the the vibrant Melbourne mod rock scene of the era. The advent of The Go!! Show also coincided with another crucial change in the pop scene: the abrupt end of world touring by the top rank of international bands like the Beatles and the Stones. As these bands switched to using what later became known as music videos to promote their work to overseas audiences, The Go!! Show and Kommotion showed the potential of TV as a music marketing tool; it's widely accepted that Kommotion was a major inspiration for Countdown.
With the shock cancellation of the show in August 1967, around the same time as Kommotion, the label lost its principal means of promotions and support and the whole enterprise quickly folded.
The fate of The Go!! Show is like that of so many other artefacts of Aussie TV: it appears that nearly all of the more than 200 episodes of The Go!! Show were subsequently destroyed when the Channel 0's archive ran out of storage space. Tragically, rather than donate the material to a library, the story says that it was simply sent to the tip. Fortunately, numerous fragments and several entire programs have survived, although at this stage the exact amount of the remaining footage is unknown. The list below, sourced from an American website, gives the lineup for seven programs from late 1966, all of which have evidently survived in their entireity; this material is believed to have been 'liberated' from the Channel 0 archive sometime in the late 1990s and tapes of various segments of these programs now circulate among collectors.
|THE GO!! SHOW - program index (1965-late 1966 - partial)|
|REFERENCES / LINKS|
Thanks to Donald Hirst (The Spinning Wheels) for additional information.
Bonnie's Laurie Allen Tribute site - "The Go!! Show"
Rock'n'Roll Teen Idols: film & TV listings
Olivia Newton-John: film & TV appearances
Acknowledgements & thanks to Paul Culnane for information, ideas and thughts on the Jack Good connection.
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