Max Bygraves gets better as we get older.

23 Aug


Max Bygraves would have been age 51 in 1971 when we [Jay and Cy] were at Exmouth Road. I remember his having a new TV show that was on ITV. At least that’s what I’m thinking after all these years. My instinct is that he had switched from the BBC by 1971 and ITV had developed a new show called “Sing a long a Max” but I’m not sure. That period in the history of UK television light entertainment was not good for new and up and coming entertainers.

I hated Max as I was 21 and he was 51 and in my mind at that time he was ancient and represented the Show Biz Establishment (Mafia). The all powerful BBC still had shows like “The Billy Cotton Band Show” a throw back to the days of vaudeville.

Cotton was God at the BBC for some unknown reason and hand picked the acts that appeared on his show each week. Of course those picked were his friends and mates like Russ Conway or Kathy Kay, not much chance of new acts breaking in on his show. A very small elite group of no more than 6 people would decide who got seen on network television and who stayed on the club circuit.

Heads of light entertainment at the BBC and ITV stations like ATV, Thames, London Weekend, Granada and Yorkshire controlled everything. Their power was amazing.

At that time the country only had 3 television channels, so to appear on ANY show provided an artist with very powerful levels of exposure. That exposure was in reality more valuable than any appearance fee. Of course little has changed at the BBC but the plethora of channels now available on Cable, Sat and Freeview has reduced audience figures across all channels to a point where these heads of light entertainment can no longer operate their cosy club ever again, That has passed into history.

The UK and USA networks both share the same phenomenon. If you appeared on television in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, everyone in the country knew who you were. It was the ultimate Ego Trip for a select few and I have listened to retired continuity announcers from that era refer to it as “More Like Hollywood”. That situation can never be repeated now. It is possible to appear on a cable channel every night of the week and find yourself performing in “Showbiz Isolation”.

As a trainee technician in 70’s commercial television I recall getting a lot more money than my mates down the pub and I further recall a professional level of manning on crews, something that today has been replaced by one man and his mini DV camcorder. The Pro’s have deserted television and left it in the hands of Gamers who just happen to put programmes to air when they’re not playing on line, hence the state of presentation and technical operations. This has now positioned the industry where half of the population would prefer to be On Line rather than Tuned In. I’m one of them.



One Response to “Max Bygraves gets better as we get older.”

  1. Vincent August 23, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    All I can add is that the one trick TV has left up its sleeve is to try to AMALGAMATE the two media with “smart” TVs.

    But THAT won’t work until EVERYWHERE has SERIOUSLY broad broadband.

    We’ll finally have TV On Demand – but bykrist it’ll COST!

    Oh, and as for me – having uploaded 1,600 pieces onto the Interweb, I now have nearly 15 MILLION viewers – PlebVision would KILL for ratings like THOSE (okay, mine were not all at the same time, but still…)

    “You’re my everything…”

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