1964 will long be remembered for the year of the Mersey sound and when The Beatles came to the fore as the pop icons of the 1960s. However, one of the fastest-moving careers in show business was as far removed from the lovable mop-tops and the Liverpool explosion as possible.
It came to a new peak when Kathy Kirby starred for the first time in her own programme. In little more than a year the attractive blonde from Ilford, Essex made a name for herself as a recording artist with two huge hits; 'Dance On' and 'Secret Love' - selling almost a million copies. The show was produced by Ernest Maxin who said at the time 'Kathy has tremendous potential. In preperation for the show she has been working twelve hours a day learning dancing and the finer points of comedy, and I believe it will prove her a top-rank all-round entertainer.'
Often compared to Marilyn Monroe, Kathy was only sixteen when she first sang in an Ilford dance hall with the Ambrose Band.
The standard format created for Kirby in The Kathy Kirby Show, a mixture of song, dance, comedic sketches and special guest stars was copied in subsequent shows for Cilla Black, Lulu and Dusty Springfield. Kirby became one of the biggest stars of the early to mid 1960s, appearing in the Royal Command Variety Performance and this was the first of three television series for BBC-tv. During the 1970s Kirby's singing career was eclipsed by a turbulent personal life, she gave one last concert in Blackpool in 1983 and after being diagnosed with schizophrenia she retired from showbiz. Kirby passed away in 2011.
Published on December 28th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.