Des O’Connor

Des O'Connor in 2008Des O’Connor is like the king of showbiz. I heard him on the radio yesterday plugging his new album and it took me right back to the Seventies. He did this talk show which preceded the likes of Wogan and Russell Harty. Of course, Parkinson was already on then and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about Parky soon enough.

Des O'Connor with Morcambe and Wise in the SeventiesThe thing with Des was that he never seemed to take himself too seriously. He’s been doing stand up performances since the Fifties and brought singing into the act almost as a joke. Due to the irreverent behaviour of Morcambe and Wise (who again, I’m sure I’ll be blogging about) Des’s singing career took off and hasn’t stopped. His new album is out this month, in fact. He said in the interview that he worried if Eric Morcambe (who was a good friend) kept on making fun of him then it would be the end of his career as a singer, however it seemed to have the opposite effect.

Des has been privileged to interview some great stars, and many of them he met before they achieved stardom and were just starting out. What a career! He mentioned Freddie Starr and Barbara Streisand, but according to Wikipedia there are a huge number of celebrities, including royals and politicians, that he’s interviewed. I’m so glad I listened to the interview because I was starting to flag with inspiration for PopandCrisps and now I’m bubbling with ideas again.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

The Osmonds

Donny Osmond looking like a big girlI was far too young to be in love with Donny Osmond and probably wouldn’t have been anyway, given that my obsession with Blondie and Sally James from Tiswas *kinda* gives an indication as to my future proclivities. (Apart from the fact that I thought he looked like a girl anyway, but not my sort of girl.) Nevertheless I was affected by Osmond fever, if only by tutting and rolling my eyes every time it came on the news.

People are being blown up, there is rising unemployment and crime and we’re always on the brink of a war or economic meltdown. But the most important thing on the news is that The Osmonds have turned up at an airport and there are hordes of screaming girls in big coats waving their handbags and fainting.

The Osmonds Live DVDThe only song I remember is Puppy Love, and I thought it was odd that this boy was singing about being in love with a dog. Mum said he was an odd boy anyway because he was from an odd family so I thought who knows, if they marry lots of people maybe they can marry their dogs?

The Osmonds were one of a spate of family bands just called by their surname like The Jacksons and The Nolans. Most of the popularity of this sort of thing was due to people saying things like, ‘Oh look isn’t it amazing that all the people in this family can sing, even the little ones?’ rather than that they had any special talent. As it turned out some of them grew up and continued to be celebs, while some of them were quite happy to have normal lives and do things like making dolls for a living. And apparently Donny hated being a teen idol – would be nice to have the choice, though.

 Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

April Ashley

April Ashley 1975 from

When we did Art in school, we had to lay out sheets of newspaper over the tables first. I remember one particular art session when I was eight (so somewhere around 1978-9). The sheet of paper that was laid out in front of me had a double-paged article about a man who had become a woman. I forget what artwork it was that we were supposed to be doing, but needless to say that I didn’t do any, and got into trouble for this. Instead of painting, I spent the whole session reading that article, and trying to find the rest of it which was in front of someone else.

The woman in the article under the paint pot on my desk was called April. It might have been that the paper was also dated April. Her name before had been the same as my Granddad: George. There was a giant photo of her as a beautiful woman surrounded by flowers, and smaller photos of her as a boy and a man. She had been in the navy and there was a photo of her in uniform. It blew my mind. I had spent most of my childhood believing that I was actually a boy and not a girl, but thinking that apart from growing a willy, there wasn’t much I could do about it. Now I saw that someone else had felt like this, and that it was possible to have an operation.

Wow. April Ashley, I’ve always thought you were beautiful. And although the article in the paper may have been designed to be salacious and shocking, for me it was an education much more than the art lesson would have been.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Tom Baker on Dr Who

No discussion of Seventies pop culture would be complete without a mention of Tom Baker playing The Doctor in Dr Who. He was The Fourth Doctor, playing the role from 1974 to 1981. Although the series was futuristic, his costume, humour and hairstyle was very much Seventies.

Tom Baker as The Doctor

Dr Who has been recently fabulously reinvented, but the iconic image of Tom Baker with his floppy hat, mad eyes and huge scarf screams Seventies at me. Children would ask their Grans to knit them Dr Who scarves and the poor Grans would stay up late into the night in front of the Testcard knitting these damn things.

Scarf worn by Tom Baker as The Doctor

Tom Baker is directly responsible for the rise in sales of wool in the mid-seventies. According to Wikipedia, the ridiculous length of the scarf was a mistake but Tom decided he wanted to wear it. How we loved those long scarves, wearing them even in the sweltering summer of ’76 and tripping over them when they unwound.

In fact, it was Dr Who that got me knitting, so that by the time the Eighties came around I made a fortune on fingerless gloves. I used knitting as a way of watching the scary bits (still do). Instead of hiding my head in a cushion like a baby, I had to work on a tricky cable.

The best thing about Tom as The Doctor was his distinctive voice. It was so luscious you knew it was him talking even if you couldn’t see him. And he had this fabulous way of staring at aliens until they exploded. When I was four, I wanted to be Tom Baker when I grew up.

The Doctor making his staring face

Who was your favourite 70’s Dr Who personage? One of the villains or side-kicks, Jon Pertwee, who was The Third Doctor, or like me, Tom Baker? I am instigating a dedicated Dr Who category on this blog as this is something I foresee being v popular as a topic.

Dr Who Book illustrated by Darryl Joyce

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room