Kaleidoscope uncover treasure trove of lost Pan’s People performances

A ‘treasure trove’ of steamy Top of the Pops performances by TV dance troupe Pan’s People is set to get men’s pulses racing once more — after being lost for over 40 years.

In an era before pop videos, the all-female group’s sultry routines to chart toppers of the day gave millions of dads a reason to tune in to the BBC’s flagship music show every week.

Yet despite being a staple of the programme for nearly a decade, the majority of Pans People appearances no longer exist — wiped by the BBC, along with hundreds of vintage editions of Tops of the Pops, in the late 1970s.

But now a dozen “sorely missed” Pans People performances — to hits by pop stars including T.Rex, Barry White, Elton John, The Jackson 5 and Diana Ross — can be seen again, after being uncovered in a music producer’s private collection.

The long-lost clips — choreographed by Felicity “Flick” Colby and featuring well-remembered Pan’s People dancers including Patricia “Dee Dee” Wilde, Louise Clarke, Ruth Pearson and Barbara “Babs” Lord — will be screened by Midlands-based TV research organisation Kaleidoscope at a special event in June.

Wilde, who hopes to be attending the one-day event on June 1, says it will be an “exciting if poignant experience” watching the clips since co-founders Colby and Clarke have both died in the last two years.

She said: “Considering that Pan’s People danced on Top of the Pops week in, week out, for so many years, it’s such a pity that most of our routines have been lost, wiped by the BBC back in the 70s.

“To hear that some of them have now been recovered thanks to a collector recording them himself and keeping the tapes all these years really is wonderful. Often we never even saw them go out as we were so busy.

“I can’t wait to see them again and it’s just so sad that neither Flick nor Louise are with us to enjoy their rediscovery too.”

The rare clips, dating from between 1973 and ’75 and featuring Pan’s People dancing to hits such as Truck On Tyke by T.Rex, (For You) I’ll Do Anything You Want Me To by Barry White, Island Girl by Elton John, I Want You Back by Jackson 5 and All Of My Life by Diana Ross, were tracked down in the collection of record producer and songwriter Ian Levine.

Other “significant” finds include dance routines to Dance With The Devil by legendary rock drummer Cozy Powell, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman Turner Overdrive and Rhythm And Blue Jean Baby by Lynsey De Paul.

Kaleidoscope spokesperson Chris Perry said: “This is a major find of missing Pan’s People performances in great condition not held by the BBC, Pan’s People or anyone else.

“Ian recorded the clips off the TV back in the 1970s using an early video recorder, and the tapes had sat unused on his shelf until donated to Kaleidoscope last year.

“We’ve received a huge haul of 20,000 tapes from Ian which we are currently cataloguing. We’ve also recently come across an almost complete Top of the Pops missing from the archives from 1976 so who knows what else is waiting to be found!”

Pan’s People expert Mike Morton, who will be releasing a biography of the dance troupe next year, added: “All in all this is a remarkable collection that manages to capture all the excitement and energy that made Top Of The Pops the greatest music show on television.

“Watching Pan’s People dance to the T.Rex hit ‘Truck On Tyke’, for example, is such a treat as no footage exists anywhere in the world of that particular Marc Bolan song, while they look like five sexy dream-catchers with feathers hanging from their waists in an electric performance alongside Cozy Powell.”

Pan’s People first appeared on Top of the Pops in 1968, four years after the programme was first aired, dancing to US Male by Elvis Presley.

They also appeared on other TV shows of the era including Lulu, The John Denver Show and The Two Ronnies.

Their last Top of the Pops appearance was in April 1976, dancing to Silver Star by The Four Seasons, but the troupe remained popular after leaving. During this period Sarah Brightman, who later married composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, was briefly a member.

For more information on Kaleidoscope’s The Ballroom! event on June 1, visit www.kaleidoscope.org.uk

ENDS

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1 Comment

Filed under Finds, Kaleidoscope, Music, Television, Top of the Pops

One response to “Kaleidoscope uncover treasure trove of lost Pan’s People performances

  1. TONY LEACH

    That is wonderful for all sixties and seventies music fans. It will certainlyget the old pulse rate beating at a high rate of knots! Keep up the good work and hope you discover more gems hopefully The Mystery and Imagination TV series in the sixties especially the one featuring Jeremy Brett “The Lost Stradivarius”

    Best Wishes,
    Tony

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