Hosting Ready Steady Go! in September of 1965, The Rolling Stones camped it up in this “mime contest” version of Sonny and Cher’s hit—then at the top of the pop charts—“I Got You Babe.”
First Ready Steady Go!‘s co-host “Queen of the Mods” Cathy McGowan stands in for Cher before a vest-clad Brian Jones puts on his sunniest Sonny impression (and quite charming it is). Keith, on tuba, puffs away nonplussed.
Then it’s Mick’s turn to flounce around coquettishly taking Cher’s part to manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s turn as his decidedly more butch duet partner. Charlie and Bill just look suitably embarrassed to be a part of these shenanigans.
All but forgotten now, young Cathy McGowan was a hugely influential style icon of “Swinging London” and the idol of Twiggy and Vogue’s Anna Wintour. She had her own fashion line at British Home Stores and helped popularize the miniskirt. McGowan’s Mary Quant-ish look seen on television every week is said to have been one of the key factors opening up the minds of young British working class women to the world of fashion in the 1960s. Her tenure on Ready Steady Go! was described by writer George Melly as what “made pop music work on a truly national scale ... It was almost possible to feel a tremor of pubescent excitement from Land’s End to John O’Groats.”
In the words of British historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his 2006 book White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 1964-1970:
The show’s most celebrated presenter, McGowan was the same age as the national audience; she wore all the latest trendy shirts and mini-dresses; and she spoke with an earnest, ceaseless barrage of teenage slang, praising whatever was ‘fab’ or ‘smashing’, and damning all that was ‘square’ or ‘out’. ‘The atmosphere’, one observer wrote later, ‘was that of a King’s Road party where the performers themselves had only just chanced to drop by.’
That sort of informal attitude is certainly on ample display here in this fun clip.