From 1963 to 1966 The Five O'Clock Club met every Tuesday and Friday.
The show, which was introduced by Muriel Young and Howard Williams, was the new title for what had been previously known as Small Time, Lucky Dip (1958) and Tuesday Rendezvous (1961), as ITV attempted to repeat the BBC's consistent success with children's shows by coming up with a cross between Blue Peter and Crackerjack!. The show featured regular items such as "Happy Cooking" with Fanny and Johnny Craddock, Graham Dangerfield talked about pets, Jimmy Handley (father of future Magpie presenter Jenny) made models and Bert Weedon gave guitar lessons.
The first indication of the show's massive popularity came when Weedon invited anyone wanting help to play the guitar to 'drop me a line." Three days later sackloads of mail arrived and Associated Rediffusion had to have thousands of special leaflets printed to post out to thousands of children.
Former skiffle group member Wally Whyton replaced Howard Williams and for an entire generation of children, the show entered its most fondly remembered era. But the undoubted stars of the show were a pair of glove puppets called Ollie Beak and Fred Barker (the latter voiced by Ivan "Basil Brush" Owen), the first television glove puppets with attitude. The show's original glove puppet, Pussycat Willum, was unceremoniously cast aside as the pair became so popular that in 1965 the show was re-titled Ollie and Fred's Five O'Clock Club. However, not before one woman viewer rang up to complain that the pair had contrived to use foul language on the live broadcast, after listening to Jon Pertwee sing a folk song. As the song finished Ollie said to Fred how nice it was to hear a song from an 'old folker'.
'Auntie' Muriel Young moved north in the late 1960's to become head of children's programmes for Granada television and also established several favourite pop shows for leading artists of the day such as The Bay City Rollers and Marc Bolan. Young had begun her career as a continuity announcer for Associated-Rediffusion and started on TV on 22 September 1955, the opening night of commercial television. She retired in 1986 and passed away in 2001 aged 77.
Published on December 12th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.