3 Sep 2020
The Weekend Starts Here!
READY STEADY GO! The Weekend Starts Here
The Definitive Story of the Show that Changed Pop TV by Andy Neill
We wrote about this book back in April but it is now available from 4 September. Amazon UK and US purchase links at the foot of this page.
Our good friend Andy Neill who has worked on several Who projects over the years, including the recent RSD2020 release of Odds & Sods and is co-author with Matt Kent of Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958-1978 has a new book out on a subject very dear to his heart.
Almost sixty years have passed since the first transmission of the most influential popular music programme in British television history.
Ready, Steady, Go! began broadcasting on Friday, 9 August 1963 and within a matter of weeks, the show became an essential television ritual for the newly confident British teenager. It provided a style bible – setting trends and becoming the barometer for popular culture.
Ready, Steady, Go! epitomised the spirit of youthful optimism that gripped Britain in the mid-Sixties. This was perfectly embodied by girl-next-door presenter Cathy McGowan whose shy, almost awkward demeanour directly connected her with the show’s target audience. “I’m not a Queen of the Mods,” she said. “I’m just like everyone else.” This apparent ordinariness was a direct precursor to today’s ‘anyone can do it’ YouTube/blog generation.
Ready, Steady, Go! ran for three and a half years up to December 1966, its demise coinciding with the loss of pop’s innocence and the birth of the ‘rock industry.’ Within that time RSG! set a blueprint for music presentation and production on British television that resonated over the following decades and can still be felt today.
Ready, Steady, Go! attracted and presented anyone who was anyone in popular music at the time. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Otis Redding were just some of the important names that appeared. RSG! not only gave invaluable television promotion to these greats but also provided such then-unknowns as Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Donovan, and Jimi Hendrix with their first small screen exposure.
Ready, Steady, Go! reflected the cultural upheaval of the mid-Sixties and was the only place on British television where anything went as far as performance, fashion and attitude were concerned. No other programme was prepared to risk an entire hour to showcase, for example, the Tamla Motown Revue (including Stevie Wonder, The Miracles, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas). The incredible success of this Sound Of Motown special directly helped the commercial acceptance of black American music in Britain.
Ready, Steady, Go! broke through technical barriers, too. Young iconoclastic directors such as Michael Lindsay-Hogg experimented with camera techniques used in French nouvelle vague cinema. The sets that were designed each week by Nicolas Ferguson were consciously modelled on current mod fashions and op art (Hockney, Riley, Blake etc.) that perfectly reflected the handpicked mod audience who were an equally integral part of the programme.
Ready, Steady, Go!’ achieved its place in British television history when, in 2000, the British Film Institute revealed the industry’s favourite British television programmes of all time, as polled in the BFI ‘TV 100’ poll. RSG! was voted into the listings at No.62 and No. 8 in the Lifestyle/Light Entertainment category. In 2011, as part of Ray Davies’ Meltdown Festival on London’s South Bank, original show editor Vicki Wickham produced a highly-acclaimed RSG! evening which revisited the original spirit of the show by presenting classic and contemporary performers staged with an evocative backdrop designed by Nicholas Ferguson.
Ready, Steady, Go! has never been documented in full detail before – until now. Thanks to exclusive contributions and unseen photographs and memorabilia, author Andy Neill fully examines Ready, Steady, Go! from quintessential Swinging London accessory to its current iconic status as the most legendary popular music programme of all time.
The book features:
• Exclusive essays from artists, managers who appeared on the show including Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, Andrew Oldham, Chris Stamp, Donovan, Lulu, Barbara Hulanicki, etc.
• Exclusive contributions from those directly involved (presenters, directors, dancers, set designers, etc.) as well as illuminating and evocative insight from contemporary viewers whose lives the show touched.
• Hundreds of colour and black and white images – the bulk of them previously unpublished
• Original ephemera and memorabilia (tickets, contracts, letters, etc) as well as illustrations from the groundbreaking set designs and title sequences.
• A never before published and fully researched complete guide to all 173 episodes, including songs performed and artists’ appearances. (Only 5 % survive. Read and weep at what has been lost!)
• Introductions from the show’s original editor Vicki Wickham and acclaimed director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg
BMG Books 12” x 12” hardback 272 pages
UK £39.99/US $49.99
And while you’re here . . .