actor & singer

Music & variety television work: selected highlights

1965 : Stubby’s Silver Star Show
ITV (Rediffusion)
Broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays 5 to 5-25pm, June 8th – September 2nd 1965

Producer: Bimbi Harris

Director: Daphne Shadwell

Designer: David Brockhurst

Programme Research: Natalie Gilbert

Additional Material: David Edwards

Music: The Mike Hill Group

Hosts: Stubby Kaye and Muriel Young

This was a junior talent show hosted by the popular performer Stubby Kaye. Most of the programmes were billed as follows:

‘Young artists show their talents as they compete for the Silver Star Awards of 1965. Viewers of all ages are asked to cast their vote, and the best criticisms will win them a chance to visit the studios.’

The T V Times noted that the show’s researcher Natalie Gilbert had ‘been handling 2,000 letters a day from children wanting to be on the show. She has sifted them. Auditioned them. And patiently sat through every conceivable sort of variety act that nervous little boys, more confident little girls, and proud onlooking parents could dish up… she selected those for audition mainly through studying their photograph. “It tells you a lot. You see a glimmer of amusement in a face, or intelligence. Or a cheeky look. It’s difficult to explain!”’

Jack was at Barbara Speake’s Stage School in 1965, and he appeared on Stubby’s Silver Star Show with three other students: Phil Collins, Danny Grover and Philip Harris. They performed ‘Same Size Boots’ from Lionel Bart’s musical Maggie May and won their heat.

The judges of the Grand Final, on 2/9, were Adam Faith, Shirley Anne Field, Andrew Gray and Peter Darrell. The boys came second.

Around the same time, they appeared in the most popular talent show on British tv: Hughie Greene’s Opportunity Knocks. The summer 1965 series was won by bodybuilder Tony ‘The Muscle’ Holland, who won the popular vote six weeks in a row and became something of a cult figure, with his routine of moving his muscles in time to music.

Jack with Ron Moody and Harry Seacombe

Jack rehearsing the show with Ron and Harry

1968 : The Harry Secombe Show

Broadcast: December 25th 1968, BBC-2 10-30 to 11-25p

Programme arranged in association with Floreat Productions

Director: Julian Moir
Producer: Terry Hughes

Devised by Jimmy Grafton

Designer: Norman Vertigan

Script: Jimmy Grafton, Jeremy Lloyd, Gordon Clyde

Musical Arrangements: Peter Knight, David Palmer

Orchestra Conducted by: Peter Knight
‘Open a New Window’ staged by Gillian Lynne

Host: Harry Secombe, with Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Peggy Mount, Jack Wild and Lionel Bart. Special guest Myrna Rose and the boys from the Barbara Speake Stage School and the Corona Stage School. Frank and Peggy Spencer’s Royston Ballroom Formation Team.

This Christmas special reunited Harry Secombe with several of the cast from Oliver! and provided a seasonal feast of Secombe’s trademark combination of music and comedy. For fans of the film it is a classic show, with great performances all round, and worth describing in more detail.

Harry began the show with ‘Boy for Sale’ (the ‘boy’ in this case being Kirk Clugston, who was Mark Lester’s stand-in on the film), then introduced his guests, including “innocent, angelic Jack Wild” (!). Ron performed ‘Everybody loves a Ham’. Harry ‘interviewed’ Jack who revealed his ambitions for a “Rolls Royce, country estate, flat in town, smashing bird…” and explained how Ron taught him the value of “Repose… every time I moved during one of his scenes he belted me around the earhole…”. Harry, Ron & Jack sang ‘Open a New Window’ (from Mame), with exuberant choreography by Gillian Lynne. Harry and Lionel did a comic routine about singing technique. Shani sang ‘What the World Needs Now’ and ‘As Long as He Needs Me’. Harry and Peggy did an interview and a ballroom routine, with Jack joining in. Lionel struggled further with his music, trying to get Ron & Shani to help him pitch E Flat. Myrna Rose & Harry sang a duet from ‘La Boheme’. Harry, Ron, Peggy, Shani & Lionel did a sketch as schoolchildren which culminated in a parody of ‘Food’. Harry sang the number that was practically his signature tune: ‘If I Ruled the World’.

Jack with Liberace, Terry-Thomas and Engelbert Humperdinck

1969 : The Liberace Show
ATV  for ITV
Broadcast: Sunday May 18th 1969 (U.K. regional times and dates varied)

Director: Norman Campbell
Producer: Colin Clews

Writers: Bryan Blackburn and Tony Hawes

Designer: Richard Lake

Liberace, with Richard Wattis, Georgina Moon, and guests Terry-Thomas, Engelbert Humperdinck, Dana Valery, and Jack Wild

The first of a ten-part series starring the flamboyant pianist and his guests, recorded in London. ‘Mr Showmanship’ had been a regular feature on tv since the 1950s. Richard Wattis and Georgina Moon were series regulars. Jack had a lot of fun getting a tailor-made miniature version of one of Liberace’s sparkling jackets for the show.

Liberace’s guests on other shows in the series give a cross section of ‘who was who’ in Light Entertainment in 1969, and included: Phyllis Diller, Millicent Martin, Dusty Springfield, Sacha Distel, Anita Harris, the Duke of Bedford, Frankie Vaughan, The Sandpipers, Moira Anderson, Eva Gabor, Cliff Richard, Tessie O’Shea and Shani Wallis.

1969-74 : Lift Off
(a.k.a. Lift Off with Ayshea)
Granada TV

Producer: Muriel Young

Directors: Baz Taylor / Carol Wilks / Mike Becker / David Warwick / Mike Mansfield / Keith Hack

Designer: Eddie Buziak

Choreography: Ken Martyne

Musical Director: Derek Hilton

Arranger: Gerry Allison

Series regulars: Ayshea, Wally Wheaton, The Feet

Singer Ayshea hosted the children’s pop show from 1969-74. Its first 4 seasons were broadcast on Wednesday afternoons in a half-hour slot, after which days varied. As a favourite with teenage audiences, Jack appeared several times. These are a few we know about:

December 31st 1969 [Jack probably appeared on the New Year’s Eve show]

November 3rd 1971 [TV Times said: ‘When young viewers are requested to name the personality they would most like to see on Lift Off, Jack Wild is always one of the tops. Today, he is not only a host: he sings a track from his LP Everything Is Coming up Roses.’]

April 19th 1972 [Jack featured in a clip and may not have been on the show in person]

May 3rd 1972 [Jack appeared in a sketch with puppet dog Fred Barker, other guests were The Real Thing and The Bay City Rollers]

November 1st 1972 [Jack sang ‘Picture of You’]

December 5th 1973 [Jack sang ‘his new release’; we’re not sure what song this was]

October 1st 1974 [also on the show were David Essex and The First Class]

Jack with Red Skelton and Cyril Ritchard

The Red Skelton Show

December 15 1969, CBS-TV

Red Skelton, Cyril Ritchard, Jack Wild, Radames Pera, Lucille Knoch, the Modernaires.

The show was coming towards the end of its 16-year run when Jack appeared with Skelton and veteran musical comedy star Cyril Ritchard in a spoof sketch based on Oliver Twist, with Jack, naturally, reprising his role as Dodger.




Jack on Top of the Pops

1970 : Top of the Pops
Thursdays, BBC-1, 7-15 to 8pm

Production: Mel Cornish

Choreographer: Flick Colby (Pan’s People)

Musical Director: Johnny Pearson with the TOTP Orchestra

Jack’s recording career and huge fan-base in the early 70s led to a number of singing appearances. 40 years ago Top of the Pops was the British tv show for popular music, with its countdown of the singles chart, featured albums, and of course the weekly number by dancers Pan’s People. In the early 70s the show was usually broadcast on Thursdays and recorded the previous day, and the nature of the show meant that Radio Times wasn’t able to list most of the performers in advance. Unfortunately, prior to 1977 there are only a few shows surviving in the BBC archives, none of them featuring Jack, although it is always possible that others may be discovered.

Jack made two appearances in 1970, performing numbers from his first album.

Thursday 9/4/70, BBC 1, 7.15-8pm (Jack probably performed ‘Some Beautiful’)

Thursday 16/7/70. BBC 1, 7.15-8pm (Jack probably performed ‘Wait for Summer’)

The April show was a source of controversy: Dorothy Squires, who already had a long recording career, had a single ‘Till’ which was in and out of the top thirty chart at the time. She was twice asked to appear on the show, but both times the BBC changed its mind when the single slipped out of the top thirty. The press picked up on the fact that out of 13 artists on the April 9th show, 4 performers (The Move, The Hollies, Shocking Blue and Jack) were not in the top thirty either. The BBC’s response was that they also chose songs which were expected to get into the top thirty. In Jack’s case, ‘Some Beautiful’ charted for two weeks, but didn’t get higher than number 46.

1970 : The Engelbert Humperdinck Show
An ATV Network Production

Broadcast: Saturday July 18th 1970, 11-10pm to 12-10am
(LWT, other regions varied)
Director: Ian Fordyce
Executive Producer: Gordon Mills
Producer: Colin Clews

Co-Producer: Sheldon Keller
Script: Sheldon Keller, Bryan Blackburn

Designer: Richard Lake

Choreographer: Irving Davies

Musical Director: Jack Parnell

Choral Direction: Mike Sammes

Host: Engelbert Humperdinck, with guests Blue Mink, Jack E Leonard, Juliet Prowse and Jack Wild, with the Irving Davies Dancers, the Mike Sammes Singers, Jack Parnell and his Orchestra.

The popular singer’s variety show attracted some great guests. This was the 16th of 18 shows in the season.

Engelbert sang 6 numbers including ‘A Taste of Honey’, ‘What now, my love?’ and ‘Got to get you into my Life’. Comedian Jack E Leonard did a routine with a ‘Japanese’ pianist and sang ‘Breezin’ Along with the Breeze’. Broadway legend Juliet Prowse did a Mata Hari-style song & dance routine and Blue Mink also performed a number.

“And here’s proof positive that all good things come in small packages… Mr Jack Wild.” Jack performed ‘Watchin’ all the Girls Go By’ with some tall high-heeled dancers, then sings ‘That’s the way it was in Vaudeville’ with Engelbert and Leonard. Later all the guests feature in ‘When a Gypsy Plays His Humperdinck…’ with Engelbert and Juliet as gypsy lovers. Publicity for the show played on the relative sizes of the two guest Jacks.

Jack with Bing Crosby

1970 : Bing Crosby’s Christmas Show
Bell Telephone Family Theatre
Broadcast (U.S.) December 16th 1970, NBC, 8-9pm

Taped at NBC Studios, Burbank, CA in September/October 1970

Bing Crosby, his wife Kathryn, their children, Mary Frances, Harry, and Nathaniel, with guests Jack Wild, Melba Moore and the Doodletown Pipers.

It was an honour for anyone to be invited to join Bing and family for their regular Yuletide show, and Jack remembered this as one of his great experiences, chiefly for Bing’s easy style with everyone involved, from the cleaning lady to the guest stars.






Jack, Michele Lee and Val Doonican

1971 : The Val Doonican Show
An ATV Network Production for ITV
Broadcast: May 1st, 1971, 8-30 – 9-30pm (LWT, regions vary)

Director: Bill Hitchcock

Producers: Bernie Kukoff, Jeff Harris

Associate Producer: Les Cocks

Designer: Ray White

Orchestra Directed by: Kenny Woodman

Val Doonican, with series regulars Bernard Cribbins, Bob Todd and Sheila Steafel and guests Jack Wild and Michele Lee, featuring the Mike Sammes Singers, the Norman Maen Dancers, and Jack Parnell’s Orchestra.

For two decades the Irish singer’s easy style and gentle humour made him a perennial favourite with tv audiences. Jack guested on the third show of this particular series with American actress and singer Michele Lee, in the days before she became best-known for Knots Landing.