MERCY - HAPPENING FOR LULU
Original Broadcast Date: 01/02/1969
Troupe: Pans People
Dancers: Andrea, Babs, Dee Dee, Flick, Louise & Ruth + Adrian Le Peltier & Gary Downie
Link: http://www.oneforthedads.org.uk/?p=507 ____________________________________________________________________________________
From 1965 to 1975, Scottish songstress Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie aka Lulu was a regular on British TV screens. She initially featured on BBC2 including her 1967 series Three Of a Kind ,which she co-hosted with Mike Yarwood & Ray Fell, and featured The Gojo’s as her resident dance troupe.
The success of that series led to a promotion to BBC1 for her next series Lulu’s Back In Town. This was soon followed by Happening For Lulu, which ran for 13 episodes between December 1968 and March 1969, and featured none other than Pans People…
Many of the dance routines for this series were performed outside. This was due to the stage being very small as a result of having an in-house orchestra taking up a lot of studio space. This is what Lulu is referring to in her introduction, though she meant to say indoors rather than outdoors.
As far as this routine goes, well it’s nice that it exists but it is not one that I enjoy much. Unfortunately Lulu bags a lot of the close ups. I think this would have made for better viewing had she not been involved. I’m not a fan of the low camera angles either. The archive nature of the footage doesn’t help, nor does the studio lighting, so my score is just 5 out of 10. I do like this tune though.
It may be happening for Lulu, but in all honesty its not really happening for me. The costumes and dance moves are pleasant enough, even the piece of music isn't to bad. But its difficult to get into this peering through the fuzzy monochrome. Sure its great this exists, but this isn't something id play to often, if ever.
Id score this `4.5 out of 10`, but if in colour id consider doubling that, oh and maybe lose the two geezers too.
Bit of a `SHOUT` out to Lulu at the start, who i thought looked delightful.
Thanks for clearing up the initial confusion as to why the outdoors has no sky, OG. The cool art '60's monochrome doesn't really detract from a dance which, as a performance, benefits from the occasional close-ups. A cool tune for the dancers to groove to. A favourite moment occurs when two sets of legs enter the frame, roughly one and a quarter minutes in on the link - much more preferable direction to the low and upward camera stationed at the side of the stage...but that's the way it was back then.
This is not something I've ever viewed outside of the context of the Happening for Lulu episode and therefore I'm not sure how well it stands up to being isolated. It is dance meets art to an extent and designed as something different, a diversion within the more standard entertainment surrounding it. Interestingly it was shot on film in the otherwise empty TV studio (you can see the rows of seats in some shots) and therefore it has a different feel than would otherwise have been obtained from pre-recorded video with the usual multi-camera set-up.
Of course, the BBC themselves retained neither the film insert nor the master recording of the show, so it's thanks to Lulu herself for keeping a home recording that we have it at all to assess. Therefore, I feel slightly harsh saying that Lulu's involvement here is fairly superfluous adding nothing to the proceedings. From a period that's sadly under archived, it's good to have and is obviously pre-regular TOTP from a different era with the 6 + 2 element. Being a BBC1 show of this period, unlike Bobbie Gentry on BBC2, this was never in colour and so although the existing recording is fuzzy and low-resolution at least it was always black & white. I quite like it for being different and as a representation of early Pans in arty mode, therefore 7/10.
Mikey rightly corrected me on the subject of Lulu show names a few weeks back; 'Happening for Lulu', with the Hendrix appearance ended on 4th Jan. Lulu's show continued from the 11th Jan with Song for Europe as simply 'Lulu'. Not sure if these are viewed as one series or two. Interestingly (?) her first big show, Gadzooks in 1965, had two in flight name changes, I think these are viewed as three separate series.
Edit: p4pm's comment below has reminded me of what little manners I have, thanks OGW for bringing an old performance to the fore and interesting commentary.
I quite like this with it's driving beat and those striking mini-dresses and boots and all that go-go action. Sure Lulu and the Boys intrude a bit but overall it's quite fun and worth a 6/10 in my book. I must say in some of this early stuff when Louise comes into shot I can't help thinking that she's the ultimate 60s babe but admittedly all the Pans ladies look great here. Thanks OGW for bringing this back to our attention
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
I confess to a soft spot for these early dances, which show Flick work in progress. There are brief but beautiful close-up shots and a lively tune. A 6 would be a reasonable vote, for this Lulu item which I had not seen and is in better shape than those that I have seen.
Indeed, the name change did occur from the 11th Jan show (the 3rd one) but since it was just a continuation (same people involved) i wonder what the reason was for the change. Perhaps the Hendrix situation was a little too 'happening'?.
Thanks for all your comments. It is nice to see Willoway visit this section. I just want to pick up on a point that he and Mikey have raised. My unproven theory on these changes of titles is that Happening For Lulu was the title devised before it was known that Lulu had been selected for Eurovision. From the 3rd show the BBC would have wanted to promote the Song for Europe bit as it involved audience participation, so they changed the title to Lulu. It is subtitled The song for Europe in the Radio Times although that bit wasn't included on screen. Then towards the end of the series after The Song For Europe had concluded they just dropped the subtitle and continued with Lulu. Despite the change in titles it is regarded as one 13 part series and most websites, including Lulu's official one, refer to the series as Happening For Lulu.
I wasn't really sure if I should watch this one because of the dodgy Sendvid, but I clicked and it was nice to see Pan's People from the 1960s when not much survives from this time. I didn't really like this one, but it was nice to see Pan's back with some old friends.
Yes, one of those 'good that it survives' but scrambling for enthusiasm ones.
Well they're styled very nicely as we quickly see as they're being panned across with some promise and I'm not complaining about it lacking gender equality, but beyond that this just ain't my scene, man. The music sounds like a thousand other forgettable showtime-with-bluesy guitar 'tunes', the camerawork is shoddy, the moves at times a hop too close to sixties self-parody, and of course it's all spoilt in the blurriness.
And outside their control Lulu's 'quite a coincidence' corny intro template must've been borrowed a thousand times too.
These old B&W clips certainly have a historical interest and I believe we have Lulu and Maurice Gibb to thank for 3 of the Lulu shows still surviving, however as always the quality detracts from the performance. It has a rather 60's feel to it but it's no stand out 6/10.
I'm happy for every little piece of PP footage that survives from the 60's, and this is no exception. But at the same time those early performances demonstrate the giant leap of quality that Pan's People took after they became regulars on TOTP. This is still typical 60's dancing and as such it is nice but far from breathtaking.
It's from 'Lulu' 01/02/69, the 'happening' bit got dropped after a couple of episodes. As far as I'm aware only some footage of Jimmy Hendrix survives from the happening shows.
Not an expert on these things, but I think the Hendrix performance was a Bob Pratt tape to tape copy, whereas the 'Lulu' or later 'Happening for Lulu' if you prefer were Gibb family off-airs, so at least judging by youtube, the Hendrix performance is a better quality copy.
I don't believe BP is actually on record as saying he saved the Hendrix item is he? At least one other person has publicly said they saved it but there's a third name that isn't known publicly that I believe actually saved this recording even if it was subsequently copied by others.