6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

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6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

RYAN
Administrator
Yes folks, 7 days after the demise of the nations favourite dance troupe, along come the 7 resident dancers that will help take TOTPs into the 1980s. Hmm, well that was the plan anyway.

Okay ive done quite a few Ruby Flipper threads in the past, but as we are just an 30 minutes shy of the 42nd yearly anniversary of them bursting on to our screens, i will do so again.

You know what, i think they are quite unique. Reason why ? Well id say everyone of us back then would have been terribly unimpressed by these young upstarts usurping the mighty Pans People, but i challenge everyone of you some 40 odd years later to not watch Ruby Flipper and have your heart gladdened by their natural exuberance and warmth. The uniqueness i eluded to is the fact that Ruby are far more loved in the 21st century than the 20th. Make no mistake that is purely down the the power of the internet as we can watch their uplifting routines filmed during that golden summer again whenever we want to.

Last week i asked you to say what you may have been doing on that what appeared to be an ordinary evening in April 76 when Pans People signed off. Not much point in me asking what you were doing a week later, im guessing you were all doing the same sort of thing again. Difference is the rumblings and grumblings will start filtering through after about 8pm on that Thursday evening.

You know the kind of thing i mean. It went along these lines "what is the world coming to, fellas dancing on Top of the Pops, where will it all end". Unfortunately the sight of three fellas and one of them a black man laying hands on pretty white girls on the nations favourite pop show sent tidal waves of disconsternation amongst the chattering classes. In simple terms, Ruby Flipper were a year or two ahead of their time in terms of acceptance when it came to BBC warm and cosy prime time evening viewing. Of course a couple of years goes quickly and Arlene Phillips on the other channel tore the playbook up when she unleashed her own brand of mixed gender dancing which caught on very quickly.

So the unease at television centre was still to come, with the bigwigs wondering what to do to lever the mixed troupe away, im more interested in that first night and the magnificent dancers who were chosen to lead this great experiment.

Cherry- My feelings towards Cherry and her involvement with RF are well documented, but i cant deny the woman was a magnificent dancer and featured in many memorable moments during her time with the group. Heck, i guess as she got the opening scene in `Cant Help Falling In Love` then she would be considered the head girl of the troupe. Saying that through gritted teeth mind !

Sue-Very much the main stay of the troupe and appeared in 28 routines (one more than Patti or Lulu). Future Head girl material for sure.

Patti-After working on other less prestigious dancing roles during the 1970s, to land a regular spot on TOTPs must have felt like a great reward for all her hard work. At 26 years of age, it was almost a miracle ! Yes, this dancing thing was a young girls game.

Lulu--The complete opposite of Patti. At just 16 years of age, she must have been glad she caught the bus to the audition that day. Thank goodness she did because TOTPs would have been much poorer without her involvement for the next 5 years.

Floid-I guess we can call him the head-boy of Ruby Flipper (though id like to seen him try to dance The Continental). Didn't he impress Flick by dancing in the corridor of the audition place, or have i got that wrong.

Phil-A fine dancer who probably thought he'd landed a regular pay cheque until the powers that be put a stop to it all in the October of that year.

Gavin-Bit of a one trick pony. Might have been more suited to acrobatics in a circus and vacated the Ruby train in July.

So guys, any thoughts on Ruby Flipper and that first night, please say so on here. I suppose the ultimate demise of Ruby Flipper heralded in the the most talented, versatile and best of our dance troupes Legs & Co. To appease our Pans fans, note i didn't say greatest, a title that very much belongs to them.
RYAN
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

Everything'sRosie
An interesting read, Ryan. If I might just sink back into the attitudes of the 1970s for a moment, the main problem with the public not taking to Ruby Flipper was, I think, because of the inclusion of Floid. The black male back then was not liked by the average Brit (my own parents for instance), witness the racist filth thrown at them at football matches. They were seen as surly, unintelligent and over-sexed; and that stereotype proved a hard nut to crack. That's why I think the country was so saddened earlier this year by the loss of the great Cyrille Regis, a modest man of charm, who did so much to break down those barriers.

Looking back from the 21st century it's easy to conclude the country wasn't yet ready for a mixed-gender, mixed-race, dance troupe. The fact that Hot Gossip (albeit with a large injection of the sex quotient) appeared just a few short years later and were immediately accepted, was, I think, down to the seismic cultural change to the country triggered by punk in the intervening years. Although it might not have been glaringly obvious at the time, attitudes among the young had changed, and the seeds had been sown for the country we live in today. So, yes, Ruby Flipper were ahead of their time...but only by about a year.
Queens of My Soul
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

RYAN
Administrator
Thats also an interested read ER and thanks for your input. I take onboard what you say about a black man being included into the troupe and not sitting to well with the shallow minded television watching public back in the middle 70s. It was certainly one of the reasons they bombed at the time. But for me the main reason RF ultimately failed was those same shallow minds (me included i guess) would not want to be seeing dancing men taking up camera time when we had such beautiful women to watch instead. Thats what comes with having the sexuality of Pans People guaranteed every Thursday for the previous 8 years or so.

Maybe the same argument could be levied some 5 years later when the next batch of mixed gender dancers were unleashed with Zoo. They certainly took some getting used to after half a decade of the wonderful Legs & Co.

RYAN
JEZ
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

JEZ
I really dont know why looking back at why ruby flipper were removed from totp ,and I dont suppose we will ever really know whos idea it was for them to go,I know myself I wasnt happy at the time, at watching a mixed dance troupe on totp,but that is because I was a fan of pans people ,as for mixed dance groups being on tv at the time ,well apart from The beat girls ,The GoJos and Pans people ,Every tv variety show had from when tv had begun ,always featured men and women dancing on their shows ,unless you count the tiller girls ,who were just a row of nameless faces at the palladium.it was only really totp that ever featured just girls ,even lift off on itv for kids and teenagers ,always had a mixed dance troupe.I suppose we could say that as for white women dancing with black men was the issue ,but then again the black and white minstrels were very popular back then ,and obviously people didnt seem to have a problem with that show ,although I dont know if it pheraps made a difference that everyone knew the blokes were just blacked up with make up.,who knows.I would think that it was someone high up in authority that wanted to see just girls on the show ,and if they did by any chance ask the public ,which I doubt ,then it would have been the blokes that wanted to see an all female troupe on the show ,I really dont think that most of the female population were bothered either way.
JEZ
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

RYAN
Administrator
JEZ wrote
it was only really totp that ever featured just girls ,
True Jez, but TOTPs was very much the highest profile show that featured resident dancers, so the move away from all-girl to mixed-gender was bound to cause disquiet with the regular viewers.
RYAN
JEZ
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

JEZ
Iits also possible that pans people were such a familiar face on the show and they had been so popular in their time,that changing what had worked for so long ,into a complete different way of dance ,just didnt work for some ,lots of people dont like change,me included
JEZ
JEZ
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

JEZ
Talking of black men and women dancing on tv in the uk ,as far as im aware there was no dance troupe at all in the history of tv ,that ever featured an all black male and female troupe ,until Teri Scoble formed her dance troupe Revelation ,that were put together for the granada tv show pop gospel in 1980.Good on Teri for making that breakthrough in the history of british tv.
JEZ
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

PattiforPM
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by RYAN
I agree with most of the points already made.  Ruby Flipper were a bold Flick TOTP experiment in my estimation too and in the end fell foul of some kind of management and possible audience factors leading to the reinstatement of an all lady Dance Troupe we all know and love.  It's magnanimous of our host to admit the high standing of Cherry in the Troupe and I have always felt that she was given that status by Flick reflected in her prominent roles and costumes in RF.  Personally I think the race issue is a bit overstated but that's only my opinion.  I think this forum represents a pretty standard male view of the issues involved and the RF Comments Thread has a very obvious preference with the four ladies standing way above the three lads in the DOTD standings and two male only dances very close to the bottom of Dance popularity (yes I know there are other factors too though!)   In my opinion there ain't nothing wrong with that
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

Old Grey Whistler
In reply to this post by RYAN
I agree pretty much with all the points made, except that if there was any such thing as head boy then that would have been Phil who was the most experienced. I think Floid was pretty much serving his apprenticeship during Ruby Flipper and if there was a ridiculous outfit  to be worn, you could guarantee that it would be given to him.

Without Legs & Co, there would be no show!
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Re: 6th May 1976, an ebullient date for Ruby Flipper, though they didnt appear to have many fans !

CoffeeThing
I have to say that Ruby Flipper have seriously grown on me in the couple of years or so I've been fortunate enough to be around here. Ryan's words about that golden summer resonate very much, with some classic Pan's routines toward the end of their tenure followed by The all too short tenure of  Ruby Flipper.

On the black footballer racism subject, my grandad and I were lucky enough to meet Justin Fashanu in the players' lounge after a match locally. He had received atrocious abuse throughout the game and apparently ignored it all, but goodness knows what he was thinking. He was an utterly delightful man to talk with and gladly posed for photos. I was very sad at his demise some years later and thought how awful it was that he suffered the way he did because if his colour then was persecuted again by mindless morons for his sexuality. Shocking.

Totally unrelated, and with little relevance to the thread, at the same location on other occasions, I was lucky enough to meet both John Charles, who was the most humble and unassuming of men, and Nat Lofthouse who sat with us lads and shared a pint and some pizza whilst waiting for his taxi after being the guest speaker at a sportsman's dinner. He was a lovely bloke.
This week, I are be mostly watching Christmas movies already