TOTP Annual 1974: The Girls who Bring Glamour to the Show!
(Click images to enlarge.)
THE GIRLS WHO BRING GLAMOUR TO THE SHOW!
Pan’s People – a handful of very dishy, very dolly dancing birds – are now a household name. Thanks entirely to Top of the Pops.
For it’s the TV show which has been responsible for shooting the girls to the top in their particular dancing field.
It’s Pan’s People who add the sex appeal to the show, with their intricate and exhausting, yet exciting dance routines.
They’ve been dancing on the show for six years. They followed in the pretty footsteps of the Go Jos, the first dance group to flit in and out of the TV show. The Go Jos, who were run by Miss Jo Cook, danced regularly on the programme for a couple of years.
Pan’s People first came together as six talented girl dancers, all determined to set a new trend as an entirely “different” group. They had done a little TV before, but mostly on the Continent.
Five were English, one American. The odd girl out was Felicity (she likes to be called Flick) Colby, born in New York and originally trained as a ballet dancer.
It was Flick who did most of the choreography. The group was always a pretty close-knit unit, and they decided amongst themselves on the sort of work they would tackle.
The group was made up of Flick, Ruth Pearson, Deedee Wilde, Louise Clarke, Barbara (Babs) Lord, and Andrea (Andy) Rutherford.
When Andy left to have a baby, last year, a new girl, Cherry Gillespie, came in to join the group.
Flick Colby quit the actual dance line-up a couple of years ago in order to work solely as the group’s choreographer. She now spends most of her time dreaming up new dance routines for the girls, and puts them through their paces every week.
”We were always much more than a dance team. More of a group,” says Flick. “Except that the girls don’t sing. They do what they’re best at – which is dancing.”
”We were kinda like session musicians. We just got together because we all liked dancing. We just wanted to go out and start leaping around. So we did. And we’ve stuck together ever since.”
She describes their style of dancing as “kinda funky.”
”For a long time, dancers were treated as moving wallpaper. Now all that has changed. Dancing has become an involved part of any TV show.”
”As a dance group, Pan’s People have always had ‘something to say’. And this, I hope, shows in our dancing.”
The girls were all picked, says Flick, because they were good dancers, not necessarily good lookers. Although good-looking girls obviously help any act along.
But she admits: “The more they dance, the more sexy they are – to watch. But Pan’s People have never been ‘teasers’. We’ve never tried the alluring technique.”
There is, nevertheless, a great deal of sex which comes into the act when the Pan’s are on stage. It’s there, in their dancing. And this is what makes them so fascinating.
Flick came to Britain in 1966. Over the last few years, she has also been involved as a choreographer, away from Pan’s People. She was the choreographer on the musical “Catch My Soul” in London, and then later in Paris. She has also worked on the Les Dawson series, “Sez Les”, for Yorkshire TV.
Since she changed to become solely choreographer, she says, “My relationship has changed tremendously with the girls.” But she has no trouble from the girls when it comes to them learning a new dance routine. It’s all a matter of practise, hard work, and more practise.
”I often receive letters from young girls who think it is very attractive to be a dancer on TV. But I have to tell them, quite honestly, that it’s really one hell of a hard slog,” says Flick. “It’s groovy. But hard work.”
The girls rehearse three days each week for the TV show. They do a new routine in each programme, and work starts on Monday morning with Flick “scripting” the dance routine. Then they have a costume fitting. And rehearsals go on, right up to the dress run-through a few hours before the final show.
”Chicks change tremendously from, say, the age of 18 to when they become 24 or 26. All this has got to be taken into consideration when you are working with a group of girls,” says Flick. “All their varying personality changes are reflected in their dancing. They often have a completely new attitude to the job in the space of those half-dozen years or so.”
Why Pan’s People? the name is simply. “Pan is the name of the Patron of dance,” explains Flick.
As well as appearing on Top of the Pops, Pan’s People have also appeared on many other TV shows, including the Cilla Black series, the Bobbie Gentry shows, the Frankie Howard shows, and the Georgie Fame / Alan Price show “The Price of Fame”. They dance a lot in nightclubs and discos, too.
It’s not so surprising, either, that they have a great many admirers. Their unofficial “Fan Club” extends around the world. For Pan’s People have been claimed as official Pin Ups to many Armed Forces units, including several ships. And also to prisoners serving jail sentences.
This, they find extremely flattering.