Divine’s music career was perhaps less well-known than his career acting in John Waters’ films, but his discography contains plenty of music that’ll appeal to fans of Hi-NRG, ‘80s Eurodisco, and good old sleaze. In 1983, he appeared not once, but twice, in that ‘80s dance Mecca, Manchester’s Hacienda.
No expense was disbursed for these shows—Divine was clearly singing along with his records, like karaoke, but with the original vocals still present. I assume the idea must have been for Divine’s planet-sized personality to overcome the performances’ showmanship deficiencies. And such is the nature of Divine’s cult that even half-ass productions like that were recorded for release on CD as Born to Be Cheap, and on DVD as Live at the Hacienda/Shoot Your Shot. However, the between-song banter IS absolutely worthy of Divine’s trash-diva rep.
Here’s footage from both performances:
And in the spirit of trying to keep everyone happy, here’s a better, if mimed, performance, but what you gain in production value you lose in raunchy banter. It’s Divine on Top of the Pops, lip-synching what may be his best known single, “You Think You’re A Man.”
I wonder if Mark Thompson had anything to declare when he went through customs en route for his new job at the New York Times? Probably not.
And now he is ensconced as CEO at the NYT, I wonder if Thompson has anything to declare over the Jimmy Savile scandal that has engulfed the BBC?
Even so, I can’t help thinking that this is not the end of the story, for I find it hard to believe that Thompson knew nothing about those stories regarding Jimmy Savile, or was not at least aware of them. It now appears that I am not the only one who thinks this. Allegedly former BBC journalist, Keith Graves, finds it hard to believe, as he, or someone commenting under his name, posted on the Daily Mail:
Mark Thompson says that during his time at the BBC he “never heard any allegations” about Savile. During his years in the television newsroom, culminating in a period editing the flagship evening new, rumours about Savile being ‘into little girls’ were rife as were often crude comments about hims and his behaviour. It is inconceivable that those rumours, which were, I recall, often discussed in the BBC club bar by news staff, did not reach his ears.
- Keith Graves, Valencia, Spain, 28/10/2012 13:27
Even Mike Hollingsworth, the man who first employed Thompson as his assistant at the BBC, said in the Daily Telegraph, Thompson would have had to been “tone deaf” not to have heard rumors about Jimmy Savile.
“He must be mad denying that he’d heard anything about Saville. We had all heard the rumours. You would have to have been tone deaf not to have heard them…
“I know that Mark has a strong Catholic faith, but it wasn’t as if this was something that people would whisper about when he came into a room – he is a man of the world. You just have to look at the programming he put out when he took over at Channel 4 to see that he wasn’t in the least bit squeamish when it came to all kinds of discussions about sex.”
This incredulity from former colleagues has only increased the growing disquiet over the “baggage” Thompson is perceived to be bringing to his new job at the New York Times, as one of the paper’s editors, Margaret Sullivan wondered in a blog:
“How likely is it that [Thompson] knew nothing?....His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The [New York] Times and its journalism – profoundly. It’s worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.”
The questions hinge on what Thompson knew about the Jimmy Savile scandal, when he was Director General at the BBC. It’s an important issue, one that saw his replacement, George Entwisle (or “Incurious George”) resign his position over not knowing about a Newsnight item that led to a gross libel against an innocent man. If Entwistle was considered guilty for not knowing about the serious allegations broadcast by his flagship news program, then where does that leave Thompson, who claims he knew little or virtually nothing about a planned Newsnight investigation into abuse allegations involving Jimmy Savile?
What little Thompson did know he dismissed in a letter to Conservative MP, Rob Wilson:
“What did happen is that, at a drinks reception late last year, a journalist mentioned to me the existence of the investigation and said words to the effect of “you must be worried about the Newsnight investigation?” This was the first I had heard of the investigation…Although I recall hearing at the time of his death that BBC Television might do something (a tribute) about Jimmy Savile in due course, again I had not been briefed about the programmes themselves. I assume they were commissioned and broadcast by BBC Vision, the BBC’s television arm, in the usual way.”
Savile’s attacks occurred in hospitals, clubs and the BBC. And it is the latter organization that is coming under considerable scrutiny by the police.
The question is how did the BBC employ such an individual, when there were known allegations against him? And what was the everyday culture at BBC that could allow Savile’s behavior to go unnoticed? Uncommented upon? Even tolerated?
A glimpse of how things were at the BBC can be found in Stephen Fry’s second volume of autobiography, The Fry Chronicles (pages 296-297 of the paperback edition), where he described a meeting with the BBC executive Jim Moir in 1983.
Hugh [Laurie] and I were shown into his office. He sat us down on the sofa opposite his desk and asked if we had comedy plans. Only he wouldn’t have put it as simply as that, he probably said something like: ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ which would have been his way of saying: ‘What would you like to talk about?’ Jim routinely used colourful and perplexing metaphors of a quite staggering explicit nature. ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ might be his way of asking, ‘Shall we work together?’ I had always assumed that he only spoke like that to men, but not so long ago Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders confirmed that he had been quite as eye-watering in his choice of language with them. Ben Elton went on to create, and Mel Smith to play, a fictional head of Light Entertainment based on Jim Moir called Jumbo Whiffly in the sitcom Filthy Rich & Catflap. I hope you will not get the wrong impression of Moir from my description of his language. People of his kind are easy to underestimate, but I have never heard anyone who worked with him say a bad word about him. In the past forty years the BBC has had no more shrewd, capable, loyal, honourable and successful executive and certainly none with a more dazzling verbal imagination.
“There is so much talk about rumours, but I can tell you that neither from external sources or internally, neither by nods and winks or by innuendo, did I receive any scintilla of this story whatsoever, or discuss it or his behaviour with my superiors. There was not a scintilla of this either from Roger Ordish, his producer for 20 years.”
Should we be surprised? Not really. But it makes sense that Moir didn’t hear any allegations when it was seen as okay to use sexist, aggressive and offensive language such as ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ or, ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ on a regular basis. This kind masturbatory boy’s club culture covers up for a lot of unacceptable behavior.
For America, the misunderstanding was over the lyrics. Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Get Down” was assumed to be a nudge-nudge reference to oral sex, tied-in, perhaps, to the coincidental release of sex film, Deep Throat.
‘...very British and to me the girl in “Get Down” is behaving like a dog - she’s jumping up on him, so “get down!”’
That’s his story, and he’s, you know. Though he did admit, if it had been about oral pleasures, then:
‘...we should sell 10 million and put it on the soundtrack of Deep Throat.’
Top of the Pops resident dance troupe, Pan’s People understood the song perfectly and reflected it in their innocent interpretation. With such a literal approach, the mind boggles how the girls would have choreographed the song if it had been about blow jobs.
The legendary disc jockey, TV presenter and charity fund-raiser, Sir Jimmy Savile has died at the age of 84, at his home in Leeds, England.
Savile who was a major star of British TV and radio, was best known as host of Top of the Pops from the 1960s-2006, and his own highly successful show Jim’ll Fix It, where Savile fixed it for selected viewers to have their dreams come true. At its height the show received over 20,000 letters a week, asking to have their dreams fulfilled.
Savile with his distinct blonde hair, clunky jewelry, track suit and trademark cigar, was a genuine maverick and one-off. Born on 31 October 1926, Savile was widely acknowledged as the world’s first disc jockey, pioneering the use of twin-turntables, and continuous play “discos” during the 1940s and 1950s.
He was a Bevin Boy during the Second World War, conscripted as a coal miner, Savile worked down the pit at the South Kirkby Colliery, West Yorkshire. After the war he continued deejaying, and also took up a career as a wrestler, which, at one point, made him the highest paid wrestler in the world. He later claimed wrestling led to his breaking every bone in his body.
During the 1950s, Savile continued with music and ran several clubs throughout England, bringing rock and pop music to generations of youngsters.
By the 1960s, Savile was the most visible and best known disc jockey on radio and TV, promoting Beat, R’n’B, Motown, Northern Soul, Heavy Metal and Glam Rock over the years.
Apart from music, Savile worked tirelessly for charity, running over 200 marathons, and raising £40 million.
When I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Top of the Pops was essential, nay compulsory viewing. You see, for a certain age group TOTP was the only music show on British TV. Yes, there was the excellent Old Grey Whistle Test with “Whispering” Bob Harris, which had Zappa, The New York Dolls, Deep Purple and alike, but that went out long after sundown and well past most young uns bedtimes. It would really take until the arrival of the pop promo for music shows to become ubiquitous, which meant back in the days of mop tops, glitter and platform boots, Top of the Pops was King.
Top of the Pops was the BBC’s legendary, Top 40 chart run-down show. It ran between 1964 and 2006, when it was pulled by the Beeb bosses due to a lack of viewers or, too much competition - depending who you read. It was an inevitable demise for music had changed after Rave, and the diversity and choice available meant what most youngsters listened to was rarely reflected by a show centered around the record sales of bland and talentless groups squeezed out by music industry execs.
Moreover, because TOTP was a chart run down show, you were likely to see David Bowie in the same studio as The Osmonds or, The Sex Pistols on the same show as Hot Chocolate. Even so, there was always moments to treasure from Jimi Hendrix, to Bowie’s “Starman”, Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, The Smiths with a gladioli-waving Morrissey singing “This Charming Man”, to Blondie “Dreaming”.
And yes, there was The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Move and so on, right up to The Damned, The Jam, Marc Almond, and even Nick Cave. But for all the great and the good, there was always a lot of shit. Something that is more than apparent in this 2-hour compilation of forty years of Top of the Pops. It’s an odd mix with some great, and some inexcusable songs, and a lot of brilliant ones missing. Yet, for all the good, the bad and the ugly, it does tell a story of how music has changed for better and worse over the past four decades.
Top of the Pops 40th Anniversary 1964 - 2004
1964: Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas - “Little Children”
1965: Sandie Shaw - “Long Live Love”
1966: The Seekers - “The Carnival Is Over” (Performance was from 1965)
1967: Procol Harum - “A Whiter Shade of Pale”
1968: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - “Fire”
1969: The Hollies - “Sorry Suzanne”
1970: Free - “All Right Now”
1971: T.Rex - “Get It On”
1972: Roxy Music - “Virginia Plain”
1973: Slade - “Cum on Feel the Noize”
1974: The Three Degrees - “When Will I See You Again”
1975: Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)”
1976: The Real Thing - “You to Me Are Everything”
1977: Queen - “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy”
1978: The Jam - “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”
1979: Ian Dury & The Blockheads - “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”
1980: Adam and the Ants - “Ant Music”
1981: The Human League - “Don’t You Want Me”
1982: Culture Club - “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”
1983: UB40 - “Red Red Wine”
1984: Wham! - “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
1985: Eurythmics - “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”
1986: Pet Shop Boys - “West End Girls”
1987: Bee Gees - “You Win Again”
1988: Yazz And The Plastic Population - “The Only Way Is Up”
1989: Lisa Stansfield - “All Around the World”
1990: Sinéad O’Connor - “Nothing Compares 2 U”
1991: Seal - “Crazy”
1992: Stereo MCs - “Connected”
1993: New Order - “Regret”
1994: Blur - “Parklife”
1995: Take That - “Back for Good”
1996: Oasis - “Don’t Look Back in Anger”
1997: Spice Girls - “Wannabe”
1998: Manic Street Preachers - “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”
1999: Ricky Martin - “Livin La Vida Loca”
2000: Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Spiller - “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)”
2001: Texas - “I Don’t Want a Lover”
2002: Status Quo - “Rockin’ All Over The World”
2003: The Darkness - “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”
2004: Michael Andrews Featuring Gary Jules - “Mad World”
Back in the day before pop promos, the BBC’s chart show, Top of the Pops employed dance troupe Pan’s People to fill-in for those artists who couldn’t appear on the show.
Pan’s People were the legendary dance goddesses of the 1960s and ‘70s, who are still worshipped by the writers of Lad’s Mags, and by the over-familiar contributors to self-congratulatory pop culture list shows, like I Love the 70s. And less we forget, Pan’s People were also responsible for convincing many a middle-aged dad, in the 1970s, that pop music wasn’t the devil’s plaything.
Pan’s People made their first appearance on TOTP in April 1968, replacing The Go-Jos, the original trio of dancers who had graced the chart show with their interpretative dancing since 1964. BBC bosses decided a change was needed and cast Louise Clarke, Felicity “Flick” Colby, Barbara “Babs” Lord, Ruth Pearson, Andrea “Andi” Rutherford and Patricia “Dee Dee” Wilde as Pan’s People:
London born Louise Clarke had attended the Corona Stage School where she did child modelling work and was also chosen for some minor roles in films and television.
Ruth Pearson also attended the Corona Stage School. She originally came from Kingston in Surrey and at the age of seven won a place at the Ballet Rambert.
Wolverhampton born Babs Lord began dancing an early age and after initially taking lessons at her mother’s dance school, she later attended the Arts Educational Trust stage school. At the age of eighteen Babs joined a group of young dancers called The Beat Girls and made weekly appearances on BBC2’s music show The Beat Room. Babs later appeared with The Beat Girls in the 1965 British film Gonks Go Beat.
Originally from Farnham in Surrey, Dee Dee Wilde had arrived back on British shores a few years earlier, aged seventeen, after spending most of her childhood in Africa. Prior to joining Pan’s People, Dee Dee enjoyed a stint with another dance troupe that included a tour of Spain.
American Flick Colby came from New York and originally trained as a ballet dancer. Within months of arriving in Britain in 1966 Flick, together with Andrea Rutherford and the four other girls, had formed Pan’s People. The fact that Flick also handled the group’s choreography ensured that Pan’s People remained a pretty much self-contained unit of strong-willed young women who were hungry for a little success.
During the next eighteen months Pan’s People only appeared a few times on British television, but they had more success in Amsterdam with a spot on a Dutch TV series. They got their lucky break in 1968 when the BBC finally decided to sign them up as TOTP’s new dancers. Initially Pan’s People made only semi-regular appearances on the show, perhaps once or twice a month. However, it soon became clear that Pan’s People were proving a huge hit with viewers. So by 1969 the girls were dancing on the TOTP every week and were now an integral part of the show.
As the new chart run-down was released on a Tuesday and TOTP went out on a Thursday, Pan’s People only had 24-hours in which to choose a song, work out their moves, and learn their routine. The tremendous pressure led Flick Colby to quit in 1971, and focus solely on the troupe’s choreography. Pan’s People thereafter remained a 5-piece until Louise left to start a family (Pan’s People were allegedly banned by the Beeb from getting married) and was replaced by 17-year-old Cherry Gillespie in December 1972, who was presented to the group as a Christmas present. Very enlightened.
After Pan’s People split in 1976, Flick remained choreographer for TOTP and created the shows dance groups Ruby Flipper, Legs and Co. and Zoo. Only Legs and Co. was successful out of these. Flick’s style was often criticized as far too literal (most notably in Pan’s People’s version of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Get Down” - see below), but it fitted with the times and she did create the group’s very recognizable dance language:
By the mid 1970s Pan’s People had almost invented their own sign language to accompany song lyrics (now commonly referred to as ‘Pan Speak’).
“You” - Index finger pointing towards the camera.
“Stop”- Arm half outstretched with palm facing camera - like a policeman halting traffic.
“Love” - Both hands held over heart.
“Think”- Index finger pointing towards temple with a ‘thinking’ facial expression. Head cocked at 30° angle towards finger.
“Know” - Index finger pointing towards temple with a ‘smiling’ facial expression. Head cocked at 30° angle away from finger.
“I” or “Me” - Index finger pointing towards oneself.
“Don’t” - Index finger pointing upwards about 30cm in front of face, then move forearm in a windscreen wiper motion. Half smiling, half chastising facial expression.
“No” - Arms crossed just in front of chest with hands at neck level, palms facing outwards. Now uncross your arms until they are vertical, palms still facing outwards. Same facial expression as with “Don’t”.
Here are a few moments of Pop Heaven from Pan’s People, firstly their short film interpretation of John Barry’s “Theme from The Persuaders”, then the classic dog dancing to Gilbert O’Sullivan, ‘a best of’ and The Chi-Lites’ “Homely Girl”. Enjoy.