Monday, 27 April 2009

Fact or Fiction Dept.

A few posts ago, I wittered on about 1970s dance favourites Pan’s People and since then I admit to being a bit obsessed with them but never did I expect it to spawn another one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction events. During their heyday in the early 70s, PP appeared weekly on Top of the Pops thus setting themselves up for all manner of spoofs and jolly japes.

One of the most watched television comedies at the time was ‘Porridge’ where in one episode, Ronnie Barker, as jailbird Norman Stanley Fletcher, fantasizes:
"I could call up a couple of birds - those darlings who dance on Top of the Pops, what are they called? Pan's People. There's one special one - beautiful Babs... I don't know what her name is."
Meanwhile, Benny Hill was creating his own spoof, ‘Pam’s People’ comprising himself, Henry McGee, Bob Todd, Jackie Wright and Earl Adair in drag. Monty Python also essayed a male version of the troupe under the dubiously un-PC name of ‘Pan’s Pooves’.

Much later, French and Saunders also added their own parody to the list of pastiches of the unfortunate dancers under the name of ‘Pan’s Indeedy People’. What had the poor girls done to deserve it?

But the point of this post can be found in the popular 1970s TV comedy, The Goodies where frequent reference is made to a er..mature dance troupe known as ‘Pan’s Grannies’. We even get a glance of them terrorising the town with handbags drawn in one episode. But it seems that the real world has struck back. It was recently reported that Dee Dee Wilde, an original member of the real Pan’s People and now 62 years of age has just opened a dance studio for the over 50s. Classes will take place in the village hall of her home town of West Ashdon in Wiltshire – Pan’s Grannies indeed!

Haha! I wonder if they’ll be doing the ‘Monster Mash’ routine complete with costumes and make-up? Of course it’s easy to laugh now, I didn’t have to choreograph over 300 routines, many having been given less than 2 hours to be done, but actually some of them weren’t bad at all. Have a look on Youtube at the routines for the Temptations’ ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ and Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit in the Sky’. I’m not sure what the production manager was on but the effect of the dance combined with some far-out (man) TV effects is grimly fascinating. Other favs are the 'Laughter in the Rain' routine with plastic macs and the acted 'You're So Vain' - just brilliant!

Yes, indeedy!


Adrian said...

I've just now watched both those performances/vids.

True "flashbacks" as they're known in psychedelic times :)

music obsessive said...

Adrian - Another plus for the great vault that is YouTube! They also have their own fan site at where there is a tribute to Flick Colby, their American choreographer, who died recently.