Which dance troupe do you remember?
Top of the pops first aired on 1st January 1964 and ran until 30th July 2006. During that time Pan’s People, Ruby Flipper and Legs & Co entertained us with mesmerising dance routines when bands were unable to perform.
Felicity ‘Flick’ Colby was the choreography mastermind behind nearly all of the Top of the Pop’s dance troupes. Colby learned to dance in her native Boston, USA before moving to London in 1966.
Colby found dancers to fill in on Top of the Pops when bands couldn’t appear. Pan’s People were the first troupe and remained performing weekly on Top of the Pop’s until April 1976.
Pan’s People comprised Barbara ‘Babs’ Lord, Patricia ‘Dee Dee’ Wilde, Ruth Pearson, Andrea ‘Andi’ Rutherford (later replaced by Cherry Gillespie), Louise Clarke (later replaced by Sue Menhenick) and Flick Colby herself.
In 1976, aiming to redress the gender balance Colby tried a new ensemble: Ruby Flipper, which was made up of guys alongside girls. The new troupe consisted of Cherry, Sue, Floyd, Gavin, Lulu and Patti.
Unfortunately, this combination of boys and girls wasn’t so popular with audiences so within months Colby ditched the boys, changed the troupe once more and renamed it Legs & Co. The girls in the new ensemble were Sue, Lulu, Patti, Gill, Pauline and Rosemary.
Although some saw these dance troupes as just a sexy way to fill in the gaps when bands couldn’t perform, they were all accomplished dancers and had to learn new routines, sometimes at the drop of a hat.
At best they were given 4 days’ notice of the song they were expected to dance to, but a final decision could not be taken until the new week’s charts were published on the Tuesday. And if the selected song had fallen down the charts then the dancers would have to devise and learn a new routine for another song just 24 hours before filming – not for the fainthearted!
With the advent of pop videos in the early 80s came the demise of the dance troupes and Legs & Co cavorted to their last tune on Top of the Pops in 1981, much to the disappointment of teenage boys all over Britain.
Which TV dance troupe was your favourite?
Melina - Assistant Editor
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