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Cherry Gillespie - Biography

Gary's picture
Cherry Gillespie
Date of Birth: 
07 February 1955
Place of Birth: 
Hemsby, Norfolk, UK
Pan's People, Ruby Flipper
First TV appearance: 
28 December 1972
Last TV appearance: 
30 September 1976 (The Best Disco in Town / The Ritchie Family)


By Gary P. Rose

Cheryl Gillespie was born on 7th February 1955 in Hemsby, Norfolk. Her father, John, was a builder and her mother, Sheila, worked in a nursing home. Cherry always wanted to dance and sing but her parents made sure she had a 'normal' education by sending her to Convent School. Cherry has an older sister, Jane, who was also started dancing but, when she was 12, she decided to take up horse riding. Cherry started training as a dancer when she was four years old, taking tap and ballet lessons. Having accomplished ballet at junior school, Cherry was accepted into an adult school called the Bush Davies School of Performing Arts, when she was just thirteen years old. At the Bush, she studied every aspect of the performing arts, from acting to singing and dancing. She performed in several school  productions, including 'Mary Hamilton'. She was also one of the schools students chosen to perform in a production of 'Coppelia' at the Adeline Genee Theatre in East Grinstead. She was aged 17 at the time and was given the challenging role of Swanhilda and the performance won Cherry wave reviews. Cherry later became Head girl at ballet school - one of the other pupils being Louise 'Lulu' Cartwright, later to join Ruby Flipper and Legs & Co.

When Cherry left the Bush, she moved to London where she stayed with some friends who went to the Royal Ballet School. It was whilst she was there that she heard Pan's People were looking for a girl to replace Andrea Rutherford, who had recently left to have a baby. So Cherry went along for the audition and got the job. Her first ever appearance on 'Top of the Pops' was on 28th December 1972, when host Tony Blackburn announced that he’d bought Pan’s People a Christmas present.  This was the cue for the other girls to unveil the gift wrapped Cherry to the viewers. Her debut performace was 'Without You' by Nilsson.

The delectable Cherry was an instant hit with viewers- and soon became a firm favourite of Pan's People's male admirers. Cherry remained with Pan's People until 1976, after which the group disbanded and re-formed as Ruby Flipper. Joniing Cherry in the newly formed group was another former Pan's People dancer, Sue Menhenick, and Cherry's fellow student from the Bush, Lulu Cartwright. However, Ruby Flipper proved to be unpopular with the audience and, after only a few months, the group split. But Cherry left the group shortly before the split. Her ultimate ambition was to be seen as dramatic actress without having to give up the musical side of her career so, when she was chosen to open the London production of A Chorus Line, she decided the time was right to fulfil that ambition and decided to leave Ruby Flipper. The production took place at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane and was a great success. Following this, she appeared in a number of stage musicals.  She was in the world premiere of Lyle the Crocodile at the Lyric Hammersmith in London and appeared in 'Pride and Prejudice' with the Cambridge Theatre Company. Other theatre appearances include ''One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest' for the Horsehoe Theatre Company.

She also acted, or performed, in films and on television. She appeared in the films 'Octopussy', 'The Bitch', 'A Chance to Sit Down' and 'Nutcracker' and on television in 'The Hot Shoe Show', 'The Good Old Days', 'A Family Affair',  'Under the Same Sun', 'Metal Mickey', 'Crown Court', 'Bergerac', 'Casualty', 'Minder', 'The Morecambe and Wise Show' and 'The Funny Side'. In addition, she was a panellist on 'Blankety Blank' and 'WowFabGroovy' and appeared in commercials for Kelloggs All-Bran and Wella Hair Care.'

She had married song writer / record producer David Mindel in London in 1975. David had written the theme tunes for 'Jim'll Fix It' and 'Challenge Anneka', amongst others, and he was also credited on Cherry's solo single 'Here Comes the Band', which was released in 1977. The following year, Cherry did backing vocals on Maddy Prior's first solo album, 'Woman in the Wings'. In 1997, Cherry and David emigrated to France where David opened his own record production company, Mindel Music (now Music by Design). Following their divorce, Cherry married Rob Dickens, CBE, who holds a number of trustee and consultant positions in the music industry. They have a daughter and have homes in London, Grasse in France, New York and Los Angeles.

Since giving up performing, Cherry has worked as a choreographer and still keeps up with dance classes as well as singing lessons. She is one of the Development Committee of Dancers Careers Development. 

(c) G. P. Rose 7th February 2013


panfan's picture

Can anyone fill me in on Cherry's first TOTP performance (date and music)?  Was it on 04 Jan 1973 by any chance? 

Suefan's picture

I'm not sure it's known which numbers the girls danced to on either 4/1/73 or 11/1/73 but Cherry danced, after being unwrapped, to Nilsson's "Without You" on 28/12/72.  This was a new routine and not a repeat of the Vt from 30/3/72.

panfan's picture

Thanks Sue Fan: it never occurred to me she had to dance on the same day she was unwrapped ! :)

Suefan's picture

I think the December Nilsson is still on UT or OFTD.

panfan's picture

Thanks SF, we'll get on to the PP routines shortly!

cornershop15's picture


Cherry was well-known enough to make the headlines on her special day:

You may not realise it but you've seen this leg before ... often. In fact, millions of people see it every week as it dances across their television screens.

For it belongs to 20-year-old Cherry Gillespie, one of the Pan's People dance group which appears on BBC's Top of the Pops. So why was she so anxious to give it some extra exposure? She was getting married.

And after the ceremony, at London's Marylebone Register Office, she was determined to show off her blue garter. But what did the groom - 28-year-old songwriter David Mindell - think about it all?

 He was no doubt getting used to the idea of his new wife's legs being admired by other men - millions of them.


More daft writing from another unnamed journalist . David Mindel (one L) produced Cherry's sadly unsuccessful single Here Comes the Band and co-wrote at least one song I've always liked, Don't Throw It All Away by Gary Benson. He also composed the memorable theme tune for Jim'll Fix It!

panfan's picture

Another great find, Cornershop, thanks for that.  It's wonderful all these pieces are seeing the light of day again after so long and being added to our archives!

Lee and Mary Fan's picture

Nice find, I think Cherry looks gorgeous, rather nice pose too, what a lovely lady she is.

TOTP FAN's picture

Great find, I wonder if there was a group shot taken at the wedding of Pan's?


cornershop15's picture

No evidence to suggest any of her colleagues were there, TOTP FAN. Same with Babs at her wedding to Robert Powell later that year. Hope I'm wrong. It would be wonderful to see all the girls together on these special occasions.

Incidentally, Cherry's marriage to David Mindell took place at the same registry office where Paul McCartney got wed to at least two of his wives - Linda and, more recently, Nancy.

The "sadly unsuccessful" Here Comes the Band is mentioned here.

Andy's picture

I just noticed the newspaper picture great stuff Conershop

Jill Hembery and Cherry Gillespie saw this on a site Bush Davies


Jill Hembery and Cherry Gillespie

This is the end Goodbye no place to go

panfan's picture

Cherry makes a fetching cat :)

Gary's picture

Enjoy your sepcial day.


Gary x

Gary's picture

As a treat for all Cherry fans, - and as an honour to the lady herself - I've done Cherry's biography.

Apologies for any errors - I'll be quite happy to recity any pointed out.



JEZ's picture

Many thanks gary for the biography on cherry ,its always great to read your posts and info ,and i dont know if cherry as ever visited ,but i would like to wish her a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY ,she was always my fav dancer when i was a kid

Rusty Carno's picture

Happy Birthday from me too.  Perhaps Cherry has the title of most extensive and varied career for a TOTP dancer reading all her credits. 


Paperboyplod's picture

Happy birthday Cherry, it's much better to open other people's presents to you than, to just have a group of people unwrapping you!


Lee and Mary Fan's picture

To Cherry,

Hope you are having a lovely day, I would like to wish you a Very Happy Birthday.

Thank You for all the enjoyment you have given to those of us who have enjoyed your work over the years.




gibb1962's picture

Happy Birthday Cherry!


pattifan's picture

Happy Birthday Cherry. :) 

Flight14's picture

Hope you have a wonderful Birthday.