The Story of Pan's People and Other Dance Troupes

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The Beat Girls

The Gojos

Pan's People

Ruby Flipper

Legs & Co

Zoo

 

Temporarily, the Wiki entry

Pan's People were a British TV dance troupe, who are usually associated with the BBC TV music chart show Top of the Pops.

In an era before pop videos, they danced to songs whose original artists were not available to perform them live. They were not the first dance troupe to appear regularly on TOTP; they were preceded by The Go-Jos in the programme's early days, before Pan's People replaced them in May 1968. They did not start off with weekly appearances, but they had become an almost-weekly feature of the programme by early 1970.

History

Pan's People were formed in December 1966 in London. Building up from an initial trio to a sextet, they appeared on television series in the UK and the Netherlands before they were first approached to appear on Top of the Pops in 1968.

Two dancers from the troupe were invited to dance on TOTP by choreographer Virginia Mason in 1968 for a routine to "Simon Says" by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. This was followed by a further routine featuring three members of Pan's People, dancing to "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, and subsequently, the entire sextet appeared in a routine set to "US Male" by Elvis Presley.

Members

The original Pan's People line-up consisted of:

  • Louise Clarke
  • Felicity (Flick) Colby
  • Barbara "Babs" Lord
  • Ruth Pearson
  • Andrea"Andi" Rutherford
  • Patricia "Dee Dee" Wilde

Flick Colby gradually stood down from dancing duties towards the end of 1971 to concentrate full-time on choreographing the group's routines. At the end of 1972, Rutherford left Pan's People to raise a family, and was replaced by Cherry Gillespie. In mid-1974, Clarke left Pan's People to start a family. Her replacement, chosen through an open audition, was Susan "Sue" Menhenick.

The final personnel changes within the troupe occurred during 1975, when Lord, then Wilde left the group. When Lord departed, two members joined the troupe, Mary Corpe and Lee Ward.

The line-up by the time of Pan's People's final routines for TOTP in April 1976 was:

  • Mary Corpe
  • Cherry Gillespie
  • Sue Menhenick
  • Ruth Pearson (the only remaining original member)

Reveille's 26th September 1975 issue states that Dee Dee is age 28, Sue is 20, Ruth is 29, Cherry is 20, Mary is 17, and Lee is 19.

Work outside TOTP

Among other series Pan's People appeared on were:

  • Bobbie Gentry (BBC)
  • Lulu (BBC)
  • The Price of Fame (BBC)
  • The John Denver Show (BBC)
  • The Two Ronnies (BBC)

In 1974, Pan's People appeared in their own edition of the In Concert series for the BBC television.

References in popular culture

  • In an episode of Porridge ("A Night In", 1974), Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) fantasises in his prison cell about having a night out: "We could ring up those girls on Top of the Pops. Pan's People. There's one special one... beautiful Babs... dunno what her name is."
  • The troupe were given one of the top accolades on British TV in 1975 when they were asked to perform alongside Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise on their BBC1 Christmas Day TV Show, one of the most popular TV shows in the UK. They danced to Brenda Arnau's version of Big Spender with Eric & Ernie posing as two new Pan's Persons.
  • The Benny Hill Show also spoofed the dance troupe as "Pam's People," with Benny Hill, Henry McGee, Bob Todd, Jackie Wright and Earl Adair appearing in drag. Ironically, two later editions of his show featured the late 1970s incarnation of Pan's People, one of whom, Louise English, went on to become a major cast member of the Hill show through the mid-1980s.
  • The Goodies made frequent references to the group, as well as showing an all-pensioner dance-troop called "Pan's Grannies".
  • In their TV series, French & Saunders, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders parodied the group, with their rendition of "Yellow River", with their group Pans Indeedy People.

Life after TOTP

Even after their departure from Top of the Pops Pan's People were much in demand for personal appearances. Dee Dee Wilde knew the name was still marketable and kept Pan's People alive as she continued to dance with and manage a new group of girls: Pauline Crawford, Abigail Higgins, Patricia McSherry, Francesca Whitburn and Sarah Woollett. A member for a short time during this period was Sarah Brightman, who went on to join the more raunchy Hot Gossip before marrying Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The best remembered of the original members is Babs Lord, as a result of her marriage to the actor Robert Powell and her subsequent career as an amateur yachtswoman and world explorer, having made several trips to the Himalayas, the Sahara, both Poles and the jungle in Guyana. She holds the remarkable record of being the oldest housewife to visit both the North and South Poles. Lord was the subject of BBC's This Is Your Life in November 2001. She appeared on the final regular weekly edition of Top of the Pops on 30 July 2006, the only member of any of the show's dance troupes to appear in person at the recording.

Top of the Pops continued to use professional dancers until 1981, with Flick Colby remaining as the show's choreographer through the entire period. Pan's People were followed by a group called Ruby Flipper, which featured male and female dancers. However, there was pressure to return to the all-girl format, and after six months Legs and Co. were created, and named after a viewer competition. Both Cherry and Sue from Pan's People featured in Ruby Flipper, with Sue going on to join Legs & Co. Ruth Pearson was Legs & Co's manager. Legs & Co performed every week on the show until 1981, when they were replaced by Zoo – a large troupe of dancers where individual members could be selected to perform each week, depending on the song. Flick Colby became the 'Dance Director' for Top Of The Pops at this time. By the early 1980s Zoo's role had shifted towards leading the audience, and eventually the group was disbanded, some members remaining in the crowd as strategically placed 'cheerleaders'.

In 1997, Cherry appeared as a panelist on Channel Five's nostalgia quiz Wowfabgroovy.

Flick Colby died of bronchial pneumonia on 26 May 2011, at the age of 65.

 

Freeserve archive:

The Gojos To Zoo
via Pan’s People, Ruby Flipper and Legs & Co

The History Of Top Of The Pops Dance Acts

On 1st January 1964 a television institution was born. From a converted church in Manchester, England Jimmy Savile presented the first programme of what would become the world’s premier music show – Top of the Pops. Nearly 37 years and over 1900 editions later, the show is still going strong.

The format of the show was amazingly simple – only feature records inside the Top 20 (later extended to the Top 30), never play a record dropping down the charts and always end the show with the week’s best selling single. This winning formula remains virtually unchanged to this day.

It was this rigid formula, however, that gave producer Johnnie Stewart the most problems. In 1964 music videos were virtually unheard of. If the week’s Number One act was unable to make it to the TV studio, Johnnie had to find alternative ways of featuring their record. This could mean sending a film crew out to record the artist or even having filmed performances imported from abroad. Another solution was for Samantha Juste (TOTP’s official disc spinner) to place the record on a turntable and then cut to shots of the studio audience jiving away. Unfortunately, TOTP audiences have never been renowned for their dancing ability, so in 1965 it was time to:

 

Bring on the dancing girls – the Gojos had arrived on Top of the Pops


The inspiration for the Gojos was founder member and choreographer Jo Cook. Jo was trained in ballet at the Pitt Draffen School, Northampton and by 1964 was performing with a dance troupe called The Beat Girls alongside future Pan’s People member Babs Lord. The Beat Girls were best known for their weekly appearances on a BBC2 music show called The Beat Room. However, it wasn’t long before Jo decided to leave and form her own dance troupe called the Gojos, hence the “jo” in the title.

 

The Gojos began as a threesome with Jo Cook being joined by dancers Linda Hotchkin and Jane Bartlett. Towards the end of 1964 the Gojos were hired by producer Johnnie Stewart to perform regularly on Top of the Pops. Over the course of the next few years Jo Cook gave up dancing in order to concentrate on the management and choreography of the group. Dancers Thelma Bignell and Barbara von der Heyde joined to make the Gojos a foursome and in 1968 Lesley Larbey and Wendy Hillhouse completed the transformation to a six-piece outfit.

 

After more than three successful years on the show, the Gojos’ made their final Top of the Pops appearance in June 1968 dancing to the Rolling Stones’ hit ‘Jumping Jack Flash’. However the Gojos continued to appear on other television programmes, most notably ‘The Val Doonican Show’ where they had been regular guests since 1966. They also appeared in the 1969 film ‘Moon Zero Two’ with Jo Cook again providing the choreography.

Enter Pan’s People


By 1968 the Top of the Pops producer felt it was time for a new resident dance troupe. Coincidentally, a group of young, attractive female dancers had been pestering the BBC for ages touting for work.


Patricia (Dee Dee) Wilde, Barbara (Babs) Lord, Andrea (Andy) Rutherford, Felicity (Flick) Colby, Louise Clarke and Ruth Pearson were collectively known 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 had were now an integral part of the show.

Pan’s People 1968 – 1972


Putting together an edition of Top of the Pops placed enormous pressure on everyone involved. Today’s music charts are announced on a Sunday afternoon but back in 1968 the charts didn’t appear until Tuesday morning. This meant that the production team had less than 48 hours to get the show fully organised and ready for recording each Wednesday.


It was even worse for Pan’s People. Their dance routines took three or four days to choreograph and learn, so rehearsals had to begin before the chart was published. Bearing in mind that Top of the Pops refused to play falling discs, Pan’s People were always assigned records thought to be cast-iron certainties to shoot up the chart the following week. Nevertheless, having spent days choreographing a dance routine, Flick Colby always had a nervous wait every Tuesday morning to discover the fate of her chosen record. If their single had dropped down the chart, a substitute had to be frantically decided upon, giving the girls barely 24 hours to learn a brand new routine. Talk about hectic!


In little over a year Pan’s People went from a group of unknowns to premier league entertainers. This fact was perfectly illustrated on Christmas Day 1969. This particular Christmas Day was strange in that the traditional Queen’s Speech was absent from the schedules, so who better to replace HRH than Britain’s own Dancing Queens? On BBC1 2.15pm ‘Top of the Pops’, on BBC2 6pm ‘The Price of Fame’ and on most ITV regions 3pm ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ – all featuring Pan’s People.


In early 1970 Top of the Pops was extended from 25 to 45 minutes and at long last the ‘Radio Times’ listed Pan’s People and Flick Colby (as choreographer) in the programme’s credits. Between their Top of the Pops commitments they would often appear as guests on other programmes such as The John Denver Show and Cilla. The girls also enjoyed a lucrative sideline making personal appearances at nightclubs & discotheques.


In 1971 the heavy workload brought about by the group’s success led Flick to quit full-time dancing and concentrate purely on the choreography. Flick said in a BBC interview years later that whilst dancing she’d often be thinking about ways she could have choreographed it differently or be worried about the positions of the BBC cameras. It was decided that no replacement dancer was necessary, so in 1971 Pan’s People were reduced to a five-piece outfit with Flick working behind the scenes.


1972 saw the first change in the Pan’s People line-up. As part of a publicity wheeze, the BBC had earlier let it be known that Pan’s People had agreed in their contracts not to get married. However, in the early seventies Andrea Rutherford did just that and when she became pregnant in 1972 the search began for a replacement.

 

From the hundreds of applicants Flick and the girls finally decided on a longhaired, bright-eyed dance student named Cherry Gillespie, who at seventeen was a good five years younger than the existing members. Cherry made her debut on a Christmas edition of Top of the Pops broadcast on 28 December 1972. Host Tony Blackburn announced that he’d bought Pan’s People a Christmas present. The camera then panned to a large gift-wrapped object which the other girls revealed to be the new dancer Cherry Gillespie.


The new line-up of Babs, Cherry, Dee Dee, Louise & Ruth is probably the best and most fondly remembered one today. In recent times, even the BBC has incorrectly referred to it as ‘the original Pan’s People line-up’, with Andy Rutherford all but forgotten. Shameful!

Pan’s People 1973-1976


1973 was another great year for Pan’s People. Glam Rock was at its peak with the likes of Slade, The Sweet and Gary Glitter dominating the charts. Having always been Glam Chicks themselves, Pan’s People took to the seventies music scene like ducks to water.


Ironically, it was in the slightly more subdued atmosphere of ‘The Two Ronnies’ studio that the girls performed some of their best routines. In a spot filled in later years by the likes of Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson, Pan’s People strutted their stuff to instrumental versions of classics such as ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’ (my favourite). This early series of ‘The Two Ronnies’ crops up from time to time on UK Gold.


The year ended with a now infamous appearance on the Christmas edition of Top of the Pops dancing to Gilbert O’Sullivan’s hit ‘Get Down’.


1974 must go down as Pan’s People’s most successful year, the highlight being their “In Concert” on BBC2 in April. Between 1970 and 1976 In Concert showcased some of the top pop acts of the day including Elton John and Cliff Richard. On 27 April 1974 Pan’s People starred in their own show where they not only danced several routines but also even sang in one! The fact that it was their show – not just a guest appearance on somebody else’s programme – made this a special event for all the girls. The In Concert show is probably best remembered for a routine featuring Louise and Dee Dee gyrating on cushions wearing very little indeed!


The third line-up change occurred in mid 1974 when Louise Clarke decided to leave the group. Just as when Andy Rutherford left, there was a huge response from dancers up and down the country eager to fill Louise’s place. The story behind the search for a new ‘Pan’s Person’ was belatedly featured in the Top of the Pops Annual 1976. Eventually, 18 year old Sue Menhenick was chosen to become the newest member of Britain’s favourite dance troupe. Given that Sue would still be appearing on Top of the Pops more than seven years later, it was a pretty shrewd choice – although I don’t think Pan’s People were quite the same again following Louise’s departure.


Christmas came early for youngsters in 1974. On Christmas Eve Pan’s People appeared in the BBC production of ‘Aladdin’ broadcast on BBC1 4.15-5.15pm. The star-studded line-up also featured Michael Aspel, Dana, The Goodies and Ed Stewart. If you happened to miss it, you could of course tune in the following day for the girls’ turn on Christmas Top of the Pops.


Also in 1974, after years spent dancing to other people’s records, Pan’s People released a single of their own. Unfortunately, ‘You Can Really Rock ‘n’ Roll / The Singer Not The Song’ failed to make it in to the charts, as did their follow-up ‘He’s Got Magic / Sooner or Later’. The first record featured guitarist Chris Spedding and was produced by Mike (The Wombles) Batt. The girls returned the favour in August 1975 by appearing on Top of the Pops alongside Mike Batt, helping his only solo hit ‘Summertime City’ reach Number Four in the charts.


That performance alongside Mike Batt was one of the final appearances of two of Pan’s People’s founder members. Babs and Dee Dee both decided to bow out and were replaced by two younger girls – Lee Ward and Mary Coupe. They arrived just in time for what must be one of Pan’s People’s most watched routines. On Christmas Day 1975 they appeared on The Morecambe & Wise Show. Millions tuned in to see Eric & Ernie (dressed in full drag) dance along to ‘Big Spender’ with the girls. They blended in so well, anyone coming in from the pub having had one too many probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference.


I can’t end 1975 without mentioning Pan’s People’s appearance on Christmas Top of the Pops. In the summer of 1975, Pan’s People had danced to ‘Barbados’ by Typically Tropical wearing only skimpy bikinis. That record was a big No1 hit and so had to be included on the Christmas show. Problem: how do you feature a uniquely summer song when it’s the middle of winter? Solution: create a snow-covered set in the Top of the Pops studio and dress Pan’s People in thick fur coats . . . only to reveal skimpy bikinis underneath! The glazed look on Jimmy Savile’s face when the routine had finished said it all !


By early 1976 it was decided that the time was right for a change and that a new dance troupe be found to replace Pan’s People. This might have been triggered by Ruth’s decision to quit, which would have left the group without an original member. In any event, Flick Colby and TOTP’s producer Robin Nash had something a bit different up their sleeve.


So, after nearly four hundred editions spanning eight years, Pan’s People made their farewell appearance on Thursday 29 April 1976. Hosted by Tony Blackburn, Top of the Pops featured two Pan’s People performances that night – ‘More More More’ by Andrea True Connection and ‘Silver Star’ by The Four Seasons. ‘Silver Star’ featured a lengthy dance solo by Ruth Pearson mid-routine, in recognition of it being the final performance of the only remaining original Pan’s person.


However, there was some consolation for the group’s legion of devoted fans. Whilst Pan’s People had gone, not all of Pan’s dancers had gone with it. Sue Menhenick and Cherry Gillespie were staying on with the new dance troupe, the oddly titled . . .

Ruby Flipper

 

Ruby Flipper was different – 43% of Ruby Flipper was male.


Given the enormous success of Pan’s People, the departure away from an all-female dance troupe was a slight risky venture. But in Spring 1976 that’s exactly what the BBC chose to do.


Why? Well, it has been suggested that the BBC saw Pan’s People as a little outmoded. This seems unlikely considering Legs  & Co would begin a five year run on Top of the Pops later in the year. And one can hardly imagine the BBC viewed Pan’s People as being politically incorrect. This was, after all, at a time when the BBC’s output included Miss World and The Black and White Minstrel Show. My own view is that with the prospect of Pan’s People undergoing three line-up changes in a matter of months and none of the original members remaining, the BBC used the opportunity just to try something different.


In fact, a mixed male/female dance troupe had already enjoyed success on the BBC during the previous ten years. ‘The Young Generation’ had begun life on The Rolf Harris Show in 1966 before going ‘freelance’. Perhaps best known today for launching the TV career of Blue Peter’s Lesley Judd, ‘The Young Generation’ enjoyed a good deal of success in their day – and a fair amount of Mickey-taking as well, it has to be said.


Rather surprisingly Flick Colby had a few problems finding dancers for Ruby Flipper, but eventually 16 year old Lulu Cartwright and 26 year old Patti Hammond were signed up to join existing dancers Sue Menhenick and Cherry Gillespie. Three male dancers were also recruited. I’m fairly sure that Phil Steggles and Floyd Pearson were amongst them but I’m afraid I have no idea who the curly-haired chap was. Ruby Flipper made their Top of the Pops debut on 06 May 1976.


So what went wrong? Obviously something did because within five months Ruby Flipper were unceremoniously ditched by the BBC. The reasons for this are not as clear as you might think. All the Ruby Flipper performances that I’ve seen are fun to watch, if lacking Pan’s People’s charm, and the dancing abilities of the performers seem up to par as well. And by all accounts, the Ruby Flipper girls enjoyed their brief stint with the men as opposed to the all female Pan’s People / Legs & Co.


One thing apparent from watching Ruby Flipper is the ‘irregular’ nature of the dance routines. A staple of the Pan’s People routines was all five girls performing the same dance moves together in formation. This type of routine proved difficult for Ruby Flipper by the very fact there were seven members, three of whom were men. This begs another question – why not have equal numbers of men and women? At least then they could dance in pairs when required. This lack of balance within the group inevitable led to a loss of symmetry in the dance routines. Take Ruby Flipper’s performance of Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ for example. The set (just about) resembles a typical living room. Dancer Phil is sat in a chair reading ‘The Sun’, Lulu and Sue are dressed as babies sat on the floor, whilst a male member of Ruby Flipper is dressed as a woman doing the ironing. Meanwhile Cherry and the other male dancer are off dancing together in another part of the studio. Interesting to watch (especially the guy in drag), but lacking in structure and form.


Ruby Flipper routines also seemed to lack a lot of the old raunchiness. For years Pan’s People had delighted audiences with their trademark ‘pelvic thrusts’ and sexy moves directed towards the TV cameras. It seems, however, that whilst pelvic thrusts made towards a camera are perfectly acceptable, pelvic thrusts made towards a male dancer are not. As a result, Ruby Flipper lacked a lot of their predecessor’s sexiness.

 

Another consideration must have been the income earned by the dancers from their outside activities. As I mentioned earlier, Pan’s People were in big demand for appearances in nightclubs, discotheques, holiday camps – you name it. I find it hard to believe that Ruby Flipper generated the same level of interest. I’m only guessing here, but this could have been a factor in the desire to return to an all-female set-up.


The wish to return to female only dancers was certainly shared by Top of the Pops producer Robin Nash, who wasted little time bringing the axe down on Ruby Flipper who made their final Top of the Pops appearance on 30 September 1976. A quarter of a century later and Ruby Flipper are the dance troupe hardly anyone remembers. They are the dance troupe overshadowed by their predecessors. They are the dance troupe regarded as a mistake. They are the ‘George Lazenby’ of dance troupes. This is a pity because it’s a reputation that Ruby Flipper (nor George Lazenby) deserves.


Sadly, this was also the moment Cherry decided to quit Top of the Pops after a highly successful four years. Ruby Flipper dancers Sue, Patti and Lulu were staying however and auditions were held to recruit three more girls to join the newly formed…

Legs & Co


The first girls to be recruited to the latest Top of the Pops dance troupe were 24 year old Pauline Peters and 16 year old Rosemary Hetherington. Pauline Peters was born in Burma and was the first black dancer to appear regularly on Top of the Pops. Pauline had appeared in the musical ‘Mardi Gras’ for seven months and had done odd bits of TV work. Rosemary (or Rosie) was first spotted by Flick Colby at London’s Dance Centre and joined Legs & Co straight from stage school. The last dancer to be signed up was Gill Clark who also joined the group straight from school.


So after five months of Ruby Flipper, it was back to business as usual early in October 1976 with an all female dance troupe again the main attraction on Top of the Pops. Perhaps to drum this fact home, and to generate some extra interest, the BBC chose not to give the new dance group a name. Instead, the girls were simply known as “The Top of the Pops Dancers” and TOTP viewers were invited to write in with their suggestions for a name. A month later the BBC announced that “Legs & Co” had been chosen as the winning name from the thousands of letters received. By the time Legs & Co appeared on the 1976 TOTP Christmas show wearing skimpy bikinis whilst dancing to ‘December 63’, Ruby Flipper had long been forgotten by the majority of viewers – especially the male audience.


Just like Pan’s People, Legs & Co did a roaring trade away from the TV studio. The explosion of disco in the mid-seventies only added to the demand for the girls to make personal appearances at discotheques, nightclubs, holiday camps etc. This side of the business was handled by former Pan’s Person Ruth Pearson who was now working as the group’s manager and agent. You can read all about a week in the life of Legs & Co in the Top of the Pops Annual 1980. This lengthy feature in the 1980 annual is so good that I don’t need to go into too much detail about Legs & Co in this section of the website.

 

It is testament to Legs & Co’s popularity that they were still going strong well into 1981. The line-up of Gill, Lulu, Pauline, Patti, Rosemary & Sue is also the longest running in the history of Top of the Pops. Even the most successful of the Pan’s People line-ups can’t match the 4+ years of Legs & Co’s famous six. In fact the first and only change of personnel occurred towards the end of their run in 1981 when Pauline left.

 

Legs & Co made their TOTP swansong in October 1981. By this time they had notched up 250 appearances over a five year period earning the status “the second most successful dance troupe to appear on Top of the Pops”. Despite their undeniable success Legs & Co never quite managed to emerge from the shadow of Pan’s People. Even today many people still regard Legs & Co and Pan’s People as being one in the same. And when Top of the Pops celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 1994 the BBC chose to make a documentary highlighting Pan’s People’s contribution to the show with little or no mention of Legs & Co. To their credit however, in a documentary broadcast on New Year’s Day 2001, the BBC arranged for the six former members of Legs & Co to be reunited after nineteen years to reminisce about their years on the show. You can read about this in the feature entitled ‘Top of the Pops – The True Story’.

 

Legs & Co’s demise on Top of the Pops ended a fifteen year run of dance troupes on the show. At least it would have done if it wasn’t for the inexplicable appearance of…

Zoo

 

By 1981 pop music videos were firmly established as a way of promoting an act’s latest record release. So the BBC had no real need to replace Legs & Co with another dance troupe, they could have just relied on pop videos when an act couldn’t make it in to the studio.


Zoo was different to it’s Top of the Pops predecessors. Whilst everyone knew the names and faces of Pan’s People and Legs & Co, Zoo was a rather anonymous repertory company of ten male, ten female dancers. This is almost certainly why nobody remembers then!

 

Perhaps the most surprising fact about Zoo is that they lasted so long. Zoo finally bowed out in January 1983 when the BBC decided that Top of the Pops dance troupes had had their day.


The thought of watching dancers perform to their favourite records must seem completely alien to today’s generation of Top of the Pops viewers. But every music fan older than thirty must surely have a soft spot for Pan’s People and Legs & Co who were far more entertaining than any music video.

3 comments

Andy's picture

Pans People were 1st formed 20th December 1966. The Group was started by six girls who had reached individual levels of professional competence that were already impressive.

Three of them were choreographers: (Flick Colby – summerstock musicals in the USA and television in Holland; Ruth Pearson – cabaret in England and television in Holland; Andy Rutherford – Cabaret in England).

Barbara Lord has been lead dancer in various television shows for two years, and the other two (Dee Dee Wilde and Louise Clarke) had been the lead dancers in cabaret shows.

They might well have been called a supergroup – who had decided to work solely in television and films, and to be the best group of dancers in these media. This is quite a hard target, for it to be achieved the standard of choreography, the standard of dancing, the standard physical appearance, and the sheer professional quality has to be of the very highest.

Television, as a dancers medium, also demands brains and a good knowledge of television and film technique. The standards are very high and very demanding. Those who do not meet these standards do not work consistently. Pans People have been meeting these standards for some time now – they compete, and they win – they’re obviously the best.

(Taken from the Pans People Brochure Dated 17th June 1969)

This is the end Goodbye no place to go

panfan's picture

That's a wonderful contribution Andy, thanks very much for posting!

Great to see you made it over to the new domain!

panfan's picture

Andy is this the same brochure that mojo2007 has?