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The Gojos - History

Gary's picture
Name: 
The Gojos
Formed: 
-
Disbanded: 
-
Appearances: 
TOTP
First appearance: 
-
Last appearance: 
-
Manager(s): 
-
Choreographer: 
-
Members: 
Jo Cook, TOP: Jane Bartlett, Thelma Bignell, Linda Hotchkin, BOTTOM: Barbara von der Heyde, Wendy Hillhouse, Lesley Larbey
History: 

 

By Gary P. Rose

Jo Cook studied at the Pitt Draffen School in Northampton before attending the Royal Academy of Dancing, where she obtained a qualification in ballet. She began her professional career in the late 1950's as a member of The Silhouettes, who performed regularly on television in The Billy Cotton Show. By 1964, she was performing with a dance troupe called the Beat Girls, who were best known for their weekly appearances on the television show The Beat Room, transmitted by BBC2. The Beat Girls, which also included future Pan's People dancer Babs Lord, became very popular with television audiences but soon ran into problems with the BBC. Due to a dispute over contracts, the group split into two - while Babs remained with the Beat Girls, Jo decided to leave and form her own group, the Gojos, hence the "jo" in the title.

In late 1964, the Gojos were hired by producer Johnnie Stewart to perform regularly on Top of the Pops. The programme only required three dancers so Jo decided to concentrate on the choreography and recruited Pat Hughes, Linda Hotchkin and Jane Bartlett to perform on the show. Both Pat and Linda were former members of The Silhouettes and had worked with Jo on The Billy Cotton Show. Jane had trained with the Royal Ballet Company and had performed in several classics at the Royal Opera House. The Gojos made their debut on Top of the Pops on 17th December 1964, dancing to Baby Love by the Supremes.

Pat decided to leave the Gojos after only a few performances and Jo took her place. For the next two years, the Gojos performed as a threesome but then Jo decided to give up dancing in order to concentrate on the management and choreography. She also decided to make the Gojos a foursome, recruiting dancers Barbara von der Heyde and Thelma Bignell. Barbara had been a dancer in West End plays and Thelma had trained at the Arts Educational School in Tring.

In 1968, the group transformed into a six-piece with Lesley Larbey and Wendy Hillhouse completing the line-up. Lesley had studied ballet, modern dance and tap at the Bush Davies School and Wendy was another graduate from the Arts Educational School. She had recently returned to England after spending many years working on cruise ships.  But the new-look Gojos was to be short-lived because, in June of that year, they left the show. Their final performance on Top of the Pops was dancing to Simon Says by the 1910 Fruitgum Company.

Because they had spent three successful years on one of Britains biggest music shows, the Gojos were nationally famous and were much in demand. They had appeared on The Val Doonican Show occasionally since 1966 but, upon leaving Top of the Pops, they were offered a regular spot on the show. When the Gojos were offered other engagements, Jo decided to form other Gojos groups to fulfil them. Among those she recruited for the new groups was Bebe Robson and Dolores Bourne. Bebe had previously worked with Jo on the Billy Cotton Show when they were both members of the Silhouttes and Dolores had recently finished a West End tour of Hello Dolly! With several Gojos groups working at one and the same time, they were ubiquious, appearing on television, in the theatre and in cabaret. In 1969, they appeared in the film Moon Zero Two with Jo, again, providing the choreography, 

Throughout their career, the Gojos appeared in all the popular programmes of the period and worked with all the top artists.

When the Gojos split, Jo staged a successful pop concert in New York and, later, opened her own dance school, the Jo Cook School of Dancing.

(c) G. P. Rose 2011. On approval of Jo Cook

Archive: Radio Times: Those Fabulous Gojos.

Tags: 

55 comments

cornershop15's picture

This is the best I could do with two thumbnail-size publicity photos I found at Rex Features, vaguely dated '1960s'. Is Jo in the middle of both pictures, joined by Linda and Jane?:

  

panfan's picture

Thanks for those, Cornershop! I'll check them out on the computer later, but that looks right, certainly Jo in the centre.

Reminds me I need to add the names to the photos above! Will edit them in later.

JEZ's picture

Thanks once again cornershop 15 great photos of the gojos they are dressed in the same outfits and hairstyles as a photo taken in the totp studio whilst doing a routine that was published in the very first totp annual from 1974 ,where there was a double page article on pans people and a picture of the gojos was shown to show readers the very first dance troupe ,so these photos must have been taken on the same day ,im guessing by the studio scenerey in the totp annual it was taken 1965 or very early 66

JEZ's picture

jane is on the left of the photos and linda is on the left ,also looking more closely at the very top of the page at the four girls im pretty sure this is not the totp gojos ,im wondering if this photo is of the jo cook dancers from thank your lucky stars or some other tv show they did ,it doesent look like thelma or barbera  but im pretty sure linda is there ,but i could be wrong about the photo ,

JEZ's picture

sorry i meant to say linda is on the right

cornershop15's picture

Hello again, Jez.

I read that article quite recently at The Unofficial Pan's People Homepage, which has reproduced all the dance troupe-related articles from the Top of the Pops annuals (I only have the 1979 one at the moment). The Gojos are only briefly referred to but at least Jo Cook gets a mention. I can see they are wearing the same costumes. Well remembered!

 In case others haven't seen this, here is the link:

http://www.panspeople.freeserve.co.uk/totp1974.htm

Thanks for pointing this out, Jez, and for your lists of Pan's People routines at One for the Dads, which I regularly refer to. Good luck with trying to find all of them, and with those important dates! 

panfan's picture

Hi Cornershop

The TOTP annuals with content of interest to us have all been scanned and published here.

You can see the 1974 article here:

http://www.panspeople.com/?q=node/441

I know navigation here's still to be sorted out, and a site map may be called for, but the search facility helps in the meantime.  These will (one day!) all be listed under the Archives tab, and one day I'll get up to date with it!

cornershop15's picture

Apologies, panfan, I didn't know they're included here as well. The presentations are different but I can tell which is the real one as yours has the right captions! Now I know The Gojos picture is from 1965.

I'll enjoy catching up with those Archives.   

panfan's picture

No apology needed, Cornershop!  It's all a bit of a mess at the moment, with no organisation of the articles yet.  We'll get things organised better at some stage.

The versions here are direct scans of the actual annuals, whereas I think on the Freeserve site he scanned the images only and typed in the text.

JEZ's picture

i wonder panfan if it would be to much to ask of linda or jo if they can recall the routine they were performing in the totp annual ,heres hoping the picture might jog their memory

JEZ's picture

anyone any idea if any of jo cooks work as choreographer on other tv shows still survives in the archives ,i know the reflection clip survives and a couple of backing dances on thank your lucky stars also the film she choreographed ,but i wonder if any of her work on the val doonican show or discs a go go have managed to escape being wiped i cant seem to find any hope of any

JEZ's picture

Hi panfan ,hope u r ok ,any chance you could ask either jo or linda if they can identify the routine they were performing to in the photo from the totp annual from 1974 the photo says the date if 1965 ,cheers panfan

panfan's picture

Hi Jez: Gary's the contact for the Gojos, so he'll try to find out for you. He's having a well deserved holiday this week, and will answer later on.

JEZ's picture

Hi there i think im gonna have a wild guess on the routine pictured in the totp annual from 1974 of the gojos ,i was listening to an audio of the 6/1/66 totp the other day ,on you tube and jimmy saville makes a comment about the 3 girls who are now gonna dance to herb alperts spanish flea ,then when the song as finished he says that was the gojos ,so im guessing jo is still in the trio at this point ,the scenery on the picture of the gojos performance in the totp annual is deffo from late 1965 to early 66 ,so im taking a guess they are dancing to spanish flea ,i may be completley wrong ,and im still hoping gary will do me the kind favour of asking linda or jo ,if they can give us the correct routine ,i know its a long time ago but im hoping the costumes on the photo might just help them recall the song

Gary's picture

Hi Jez,

I'll send copies of the photos to Linda or Jo and ask them to identify who the dancers are and which routines they were dancing to. Is that, ok?

Please bear in mind that it's holiday season. Jo and Linda are away at the moment but I can guarantee that they'll answer your question as soon as they return.

Thanks again, Jez

Best wishes

Gary

Gary's picture

I would say that Linda was definitely one of the three dancers. She is probably the Gojos most prominent member, having been there from the very beginning and staying until the end.

I'll find out who the other members were for you.

Best wishes

Gary 

Gary's picture

Regarding the very top photo of the Gojos (consisting of four girls wearing black dresses with white panels down the front). The line-up is (Left to right) Barbara von der Heyde, Linda Hotchkin, Thelma Bignall and Jane Bartlett .

The photo was taken before Lesley Larbey and Wendy Hillhouse joined. By this time, Jo Cook had given up performing and was working as their full-time choreographer.  

panfan's picture

I've forgot Gary, do we have dates for when members joined and left the Gojos over the years?

Gary's picture

The Gojos were formed in November 1964 and originally consisted of three members; Linda Hotchkin, Jane Barlett and Pat Hughes, and a choreographer which, of course, was Jo Cook. Pat was only with them briefly and, when she left, Jo took her place.

For the next two years, the group consited of Jo, Linda and Jane. In 1966, Jo left to concentrate solely on the choreography  which left just Linda and Jane. Jo decided to make the group a foursome and added Barbara von der Heyde and Thelma Bignall to the line-up.

Then, in 1968, she made the Gojos into a six-piece adding Lesley Larbey and Wendy Hillhouse

November 1964  - Linda Hotchkin, Jane Bartlett, Pat Hughes (briefly)

Early 1965 to 1966 - Linda, Jane, Jo

1966 - 1967 - Linda, Jane, Barbara, Thelma

1968 - 1971 - Linda, Jane, Barbara, Thelma, Lesley, Wendy. Because the Gojos were much in demand, Jo formed other Gojos groups. Included in their line-ups were Bebe Robson and Dolores Bourne.

After 1971 - unsure

Gary's picture

Jo once told me: "a good choreographer should stand back and watch rather than perform". She wanted to concentrate on the groups choreography and to ensure that The Gojos put on a good performance. This is why she made the decision to leave the Gojos.  

JEZ's picture

Hi gary ,yes the other 2 dancers on the photo are definitley linda and jane as well as jo i was wondering if you could possibly ask the ladies to try and identify the routine they were performing on the totp stage ,that was featured in the totp annual ,with jimmy saville mentioning there was 3 go jos dancing to spanish flea i was presuming that lesley and wendy hadnt joined at this point ,and looking at the totp set on this photo it was deffo from late 65 to early 66 ,and i was just taking a guess ,this photo might be of them performing to this song ,i want to say as well gary thanks for all yours and panfans help with any questions ive asked ,i am very gratefull to the both of you ,cheers jez

Gary's picture

I'll certainly do my best to find out for you Jez. The Gojos are always willing to answer any queries and have no limits as to how many questions you ask. They are very grateful to you for showing such an interest in their career. I'll keep you informed.

Thanks

Best wishes

Gary

JEZ's picture

gary i dont think it looks like either barbera or thelma in the top photo ,barberas hair wasnt quite that dark ,of course im probably wrong ,but to me i always thought it could be from one of jos line up on thank your lucky stars where various members were in the jo cook dancers ,if it is them they look totally different in this photo than others ive seen 

Gary's picture

I'll send a copy of the photo to Linda for you. She will definitely be able to identify whether it's Barbara and Thelma. Is that ok?

Thanks, Jez.

Best wishes

Gary

panfan's picture

At least that's one small titbit to add to the entry for that date! Three Gojos that day...

JEZ's picture

Hi gary and panfan ,did you ever get the chance to ask either linda or jo if they could recall the routine they were performing on the link to the  totp annual 1974 above, the photo from the totp set was from late 65 early 66 and linda jo and jane are dancing

Gary's picture

Hi again, Jez.  I have a few things to post to Jo and Linda, including the TOTP photo. As soon as I get a reply, I'll let you know. Jo has been ill recently which is why I've  put things on hold for a while. 

cornershop15's picture

Three of the dancers are at the front of this picture. Sorry I can't identify them but the second girl looks a bit like Lesley Judd, who was in The Beat Girls at the time. Are they Jo, Jane and Linda? This is dated 24th June 1966. The photographer was Audrey Hart.

Click here for larger version:

http://i436.photobucket.com/albums/qq85/cornershop15/Singers%20and%20Musicians/TheGojosposingwithPopstarsattheRiverThames.jpg

They're inbetween members of Unit 4+2, who topped the charts the previous year with Concrete and Clay, and Marianne Faithfull, the last girl at the end. At the back are Lulu, Ready! Steady! Go! presenter Cathy McGowan (now the partner of Michael Ball) and Sandie Shaw.

 

Gary's picture

Could this photograph have been taken when the Gojos appeared in The Tale of Two Rivers TV programme?

Jo talks about this in her interview: "We did a show for Southern Television called Tale of Two Rivers which I had to choreograph routines for. Filming took place, first, in London and then in Paris. We had to dance on the Tower Bridge in London and over the Seine in Paris. On both occasions, it was early in the morning and the roads were cleared of traffic".

Unfortunately, Jo didn't mention the date or the artists that appeared in the show.  

panfan's picture

Can the date of the programme from a search, perhaps? Since we're getting some good details of the Gojos various appearances, maybe it's time to do a list of programmes and dates/details for the history article at the top, or maybe rather their 'video' page.

cornershop15's picture

No mention of Top of the Pops but Lost Shows has a list of other missing programmes featuring The Gojos:

http://lostshows.com/default.aspx?search=gojos

(Lost Shows - Search results for 'gojos')

The only one that exists is an episode of The Val Doonican Show with The Shadows and Ted Ray among the other guests. Three of a Kind appears to have been a sketch show with Lulu, Ray Fell and a young Mike Yarwood. Tale of Two Rivers is unrecognised at that site and at the IMDb.

panfan's picture

Thanks for the research, Cornershop. You're always able to do a more thorough search than I could!

I'll have to source the Val Doonican at least. I don't know if it's ever been repeated (and thus maybe recorded for You Tube), or has just sat in the vaults unrepeated. I'll check later.

Gary's picture

Forgot to say, the photo does look as though it was taken at a time when the roads were free of traffic

Gary's picture

Who is the person tucked in between Cathy McGowen and Sandie Shaw? I notice that Lesley Judd is wearing a different outfit to the two Gojos pictued here.......

cornershop15's picture

I should have added my usual "Left to right" caption. Cathy McGowan is in the middle with Lulu on the left and Sandie Shaw on the right.

Marianne Faithfull had already married John Dunbar by this time but the other girl singers went on to have famous husbands themselves: Maurice Gibb (Lulu), fashion designer Jeff Banks (Sandie Shaw) and  Hywel Bennett (Cathy McGowan). I think this picture was taken around the time he was making The Family Way

Gary's picture

If you look closely you will see their are four people on the back row. A blonde person head's is peeking out between Cathy McGowan and Sandie Shaw.

cornershop15's picture

Well spotted, Gary (I've said that before!). As I now see thare's a man behind them I can only think he must be one of Unit 4 + 2. Five of the six members are at the front so that should solve the mystery of who he is, if not by name.

 

JEZ's picture

it is definitley from the show Tale of 2 rivers ,on petula clarks tv apperances it says that this was shown in tv on the 9/66 ,it does indeed look like lesley judd on the photo ,and the blonde girl could possibly be linda hotchkin ,but i think for other tv shows jo didnt always use the same line up as she used on totp ,i wonder if it is lesley judd

Gary's picture

Thanks for confirming this, Jez. I agree, it does look like Lesley Judd. and I think you're right, Linda is there too.

panfan's picture

The one of the left appears to be the same one that's third from the left in the publicity shot at the very top of the page: if that makes sense!

And it does appear to be Lesley Judd. We've had Lesley connected to the Beat Girls before, but is this her first Gojos connection? (I have a hard time keeping up with all the various appearances!)

I notice that Lesley's costume has 'captain's stripes', almost like one of the Beat Girls' costumes we talked about on their thread!

panfan's picture

Do we have names for the Gojos in the photo at the top of the page?

JEZ's picture

No we dont have the names for the very top of the page picture of the gojos ,but i think i mentioned it before im sure its not the original totp line up of the girls ,it could well be linda and jane ,but the 2 dark haired girls dont look like thelma and barbera ,i could be wrong though ,im hoping gary will ask either jo or linda if they can identify them

JEZ's picture

There is a clip on you tube taken from the val doonican show featuring the shadows ,now someone has posted its from 1968 ,on the clip of val singing with some dancers on screen there are 8 dancers and in the 1968 article called those fabulous gojos ,which is about the girls on the val doonican show the article says the line up of the gojos is a six piece outfit ,linda ,jane,thelma and barbera ,unless jo recuited another couple of girls later in the series ,and i must admitt the 2 girls on chairs at the front of the stage with val ,do look like thelma and barbera ,but because the picture quality is not that clear its difficult to identyfy the others

panfan's picture

Got it Jez, many thanks - it will be up shortly, well spotted!

My gosh, there's eight of them!

JEZ's picture

sorry ive forgot to list  wendy and lesley as the other 2 gojos who went to make the group six

JEZ's picture

panfan ,checking on lostshows link cornershop has posted ,the info for the val show featuring the shadows comes from 1967 

panfan's picture

Thanks Jez - I noticed that on the VT - says it was transmitted 25 Nov 1967.  Here it is to see now.

Another great find, my friend!

JEZ's picture

Looking again at the 2 pictures that cornershop kindly posted of the go-jos ,where 3 of the girls are in the photos wearing light coloured dresses and behives ,well i always thought the middle girl with dark hair was jo cook ,but looking a bit closer,it might well be thelma ,its a photo of the girls in the same outfits as they are wearing in the routine that is pictured in the totp annual from 1974 ,gary when you have the time ,could you possibly ask jo or linda to id the middle girl in the photo with dark hair ,and also if they could take a look at the photo from the totp annual ,and see if they recognise what song the routine was from ,i realise its a long time ago now ,but sometimes looking at a photo can spark a memory ,cheers gary

Gary's picture

Linda, Jane and Wendy were blonde and Jo, Barbara, Thelma and Lesley were brunette. Linda and Jane were in the original line-up so I would say the two blondes are definitely them.

As far as I know, Jo never performed with the Gojos as a three-piece - although there was actually four members in the group, only three of them danced and Jo did the choreography.

Thelma joined the Gojos before Barbara and Lesley so I think the brunette must be her.

The line-up went as follows:

Top of the Pops debut - The producers only required three dancers so Jo recruited Linda, Jane and Pat Hughes. Jo did the choreography. The line-up: Linda, Jane and Pat.

Pat Hughes didn't stay with the group for long and was replaced by Thelma. Again, the group carried on as a three-piece with Jo as their choreographer. The line-up: Linda, Jane and Thelma

Jo decided to add a fourth member to the group and Barbara joins.(She told me that she wanted the group to have an equal amount of blondes and brunettes). The line-up is: Linda and Jane (the blondes), Thelma and Barbara (the brunettes).

Finally, Jo decides to add two other members, making the Gojos a six-piece. She adds blonde Wendy and brunetter Lesley. Line-up: Linda, Jane and Wendy (the blondes), Thelma, Barbara and Lesley (the brunettes)

I hope this helps.

But I'll ask one of the girls to look at the photo for you - it could possibly one of the many stand-in dancers that Jo used before finding a permanent member.

Best wishes

Gary.

 

Gary's picture

Bebe Robson and Dolores Boiurne were later recruits to the Gojos. Bebe was also a blonde and Dolores was auburn haired but fell into the category of a 'dark haired' member.

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