'Ladies & Gentlemen, It's The Billy Cotton Band Show!' Rising in the 1950's; for want of any other adequate competition, this programme was extremely popular with what I might call 'the older generation'.
It was absolutely mainstream. The production, style and every act was aimed at a middle-aged audience. The format appears to have been pilfered from vaudeville; many shows and entertainers were drawn from music-hall at that time. It was the great switch in cultural entertainment.
Billy Cotton himself was a rotund band-leader with a gaudily-striped waistcoat and bowler hat. He began his show with a cry of 'Wakey, Wakey!' Yep; it was like that.
The formula was as fixed as a menu. Regulars included a troupe of shapely dancing girls, and solo pianists like even more rotund Mrs Mills (we never saw Mr Mills), and smiling but silent Russ Conway (aka Trevor Stanford) who actually had a top-ten hit in the early 1960's called 'Side-saddle'.
It had its day, and the day past.
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