the friday show
George Formby’s final live TV appearance

All good stories are worth re-telling and this article from The Vellum dated Spring 2002 is one such

story, written by none other than the illustrious John Walley. I originally intended to tell the story

myself as I clearly remember watching it in 1960, but John is so knowledgeable and played a big part

in the Society getting this film, when it was thought to be lost, that I thought who better than him to

tell it?

George's show, the fourth in the sequence, was unique because his was a solo performance. The others had guest stars and backing groups. It was a This is your life in all but name and George, as we know, was terrified! At the top of the show he said, "We've no dancers, no singers, no jugglers, not even a guest star, just me and the uke." Well, what more did we want? The show was produced by Richard 'Dickie' Afton, who was a great admirer of George's work and, at the time, the leading BBC producer of light entertainment. He also produced George's April 1959 show Stepping out with Formby. It is Mr Afton's two young sons who are featured in the still photos during George's song Goodnight Little Fellow, Goodnight. Bill Treming, a drummer in Wolfe Philips' orchestra, who attended our branch meeting in Reading in the early 60s, recalled that George did the show from top to bottom - straight through with no cuts and no mistakes. At early rehearsals, however, George had begun the show with his latest record Happy Go Lucky Me but during the final shoots he decided to replace it with Serves You Right because this fitted in with his openingt introduction. Bill was much impressed with George as an artiste and admired his easy-going style at the Television Theatre in Wood Lane, London. It would be wasting space to review the show - we all know it so well - but had it not been for a tremendous stroke of luck, George's so called 'Confession Show' would have been lost forever. On the night George died, Eric Maschwitz, the Head of BBC Light Entertainment (and co-author of Zip Goes a Million), presented a short tribute to George and used part of the The Friday Show. That was the end of it, apart from two years later when a short extract was shown in a BBC 2 programme called Plunder (a raid on the BBC archives) in · which George was featured among items as varied as the British Olympics ( 1948), Malcolm Muggeridge (1955), and Harold Macmillan talking to President Eisenhower at No IO Downing Street! After that, The Friday Show disappeared completely. All enquiries by the GFS to the BBC met with the standard reply: 'The BBC cannot loan programmes to outside agencies'. Subsequent letters suggested that the show had been wiped, apart from an extract of seven minutes on tape and: 'Your society can't use it because it is on 72mm and you will need a cinema licence to project it!' Enter one Geoff Lawrence who was head of BBC Radio (North) Light Entertainment. He telephoned me in the summer of 1967 about a radio tribute he was presenting about George. He wanted to come to the Imperial Hotel to spend the weekend with members and record some material. It seems he had nothing other than a clip from Formby Favourites and a reel of 16mm film with The Friday Show written on the can! This had been sent to him from the TV Centre in London. The Friday Show! Did Geoff have a film of the whole show? I was on the telephone straight away. "Yes," he said, "we have run it through here in Manchester and it is George on his own." I screamed with delight! Geoff, God bless him, didn't understand why I was so excited. So in September 1967 at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool, there was Geoff Lawrence and his sound assistant Frank Dixon, loaded with recording equipment. There on a table was a brown leather film box with The Friday Show written in black felt tip on the side! He opened it. There was the 16mm chrome reel of film with a BBC label stating 16mm Print: BBC TV: The George Formby Show! After seven years, it had been found in its entirety! On the Saturday evening, the feature film was followed by Our George! The lights dimmed, the screen lit up, the band struck up Mr Wu and there he was in that shadow behind the gauze. He opened the door at the back of the set, walked forward, Baby Gibson in hand and came to us in the room. George was talking to us. There was an air of disbelief among members and only a slight ripple of an amazed applause. "So I'd just like to say three little words. Goodnight, Good luck and God bless," said George. The credits rolled up, then George was gone after 35 incredible minutes. We stood up cheering and I clearly remember two lady members crying openly. Poor Geoff Lawrence was so surprised that he presented the GFS with the film there and then. Subsequent years almost wore it out, but thank heaven for the miracle of the video. George's valedictory show is safe. It was a very moving evening and, in my opinion, one of the most memorable moments in the society's 40-year history. John Walley

The Friday Show - Details

Transmission Date - December 16 1960 - BBC TV Transmission Time - 20:25 Presenting George Formby in a reminiscent mood. Written and Produced by Richard Afron Orchestra - Woolf Phillips and the Orchestra Set Design - Roger Andrews The songs that George performed: It Serves You Right Down The Old Coal Hole Swim Little Fish Guarding The Home of The Home Guards Goodnight Little Fellow Goodnight Sitting On The Ice In The Icc Rink Medley: When I'm Cleaning Windows, Chinese Laundry Blues, Leaning On A Lamp Post. (Recording played of George Formby Snr: Standing At the Corner of The Street)
GEORGE’S OPENING WORDS AND SONG FROM THE FRIDAY SHOW
the friday show
George Formby’s final live TV appearance

All good stories are worth re-telling and this article

from The Vellum dated Spring 2002 is one such story,

written by none other than the illustrious John

Walley. I originally intended to tell the story myself as

I clearly remember watching it in 1960, but John is so

knowledgeable and played a big part in the Society

getting this film, when it was thought to be lost, that

I thought who better than him to tell it?

George's show, the fourth in the sequence, was unique because his was a solo performance. The others had guest stars and backing groups. It was a This is your life in all but name and George, as we know, was terrified! At the top of the show he said, "We've no dancers, no singers, no jugglers, not even a guest star, just me and the uke."  Well, what more did we want?  The show was produced by Richard 'Dickie' Afton, who was a great admirer of George's work and, at the time, the leading BBC producer of light entertainment. He also produced George's April 1959 show Stepping out with Formby. It is Mr Afton's two young sons who are featured in the still photos during George's song Goodnight Little Fellow, Goodnight.  Bill Treming, a drummer in Wolfe Philips' orchestra, who attended our branch meeting in Reading in the early 60s, recalled that George did the show from top to bottom - straight through with no cuts and no mistakes. At early rehearsals, however, George had begun the show with his latest record Happy Go Lucky Me but during the final shoots he decided to replace it with Serves You Right because this fitted in with his openingt introduction.  Bill was much impressed with George as an artiste and admired his easy-going style at the Television Theatre in Wood Lane, London. It would be wasting space to review the show - we all know it so well - but had it not been for a tremendous stroke of luck, George's so called 'Confession Show' would have been lost forever.  On the night George died, Eric Maschwitz, the Head of BBC Light Entertainment (and co-author of Zip Goes a Million), presented a short tribute to George and used part of the The Friday Show. That was the end of it, apart from two years later when a short extract was shown in a BBC 2 programme called Plunder (a raid on the BBC archives) in · which George was featured among items as varied as the British Olympics ( 1948), Malcolm Muggeridge (1955), and Harold Macmillan talking to President Eisenhower at No IO Downing Street!  After that, The Friday Show disappeared completely. All enquiries by the GFS to the BBC met with the standard reply: 'The BBC cannot loan programmes to outside agencies'. Subsequent letters suggested that the show had been wiped, apart from an extract of seven minutes on tape and: 'Your society can't use it because it is on 72mm and you will need a cinema licence to project it!'  Enter one Geoff Lawrence who was head of BBC Radio (North) Light Entertainment. He telephoned me in the summer of 1967 about a radio tribute he was presenting about George.  He wanted to come to the Imperial Hotel to spend the weekend with members and record some material. It seems he had nothing other than a clip from Formby Favourites and a reel of 16mm film with The Friday Show written on the can! This had been sent to him from the TV Centre in London. The Friday Show! Did Geoff have a film of the whole show? I was on the telephone straight away. "Yes," he said, "we have run it through here in Manchester and it is George on his own." I screamed with delight! Geoff, God bless him, didn't understand why I was so excited.  So in September 1967 at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool, there was Geoff Lawrence and his sound assistant Frank Dixon, loaded with recording equipment. There on a table was a brown leather film box with The Friday Show written in black felt tip on the side! He opened it. There was the 16mm chrome reel of film with a BBC label stating 16mm Print: BBC TV: The George Formby Show! After seven years, it had been found in its entirety!  On the Saturday evening, the feature film was followed by Our George! The lights dimmed, the screen lit up, the band struck up Mr Wu and there he was in that shadow behind the gauze. He opened the door at the back of the set, walked forward, Baby Gibson in hand and came to us in the room. George was talking  to us. There was an air of disbelief among members and only a slight ripple of an amazed applause.  "So I'd just like to say three little words. Goodnight, Good luck and God bless," said George. The credits rolled up, then George was gone after 35 incredible minutes. We stood up cheering and I clearly remember two lady members crying openly.  Poor Geoff Lawrence was so surprised that he presented the GFS with the film there and then. Subsequent years almost wore it out, but thank heaven for the miracle of the video.  George's valedictory show is safe. It was a very moving evening and, in my  opinion, one of the most memorable moments in the society's 40-year history.  John Walley

The Friday Show - Details

Transmission Date - December 16 1960 - BBC TV Transmission Time - 20:25 Presenting George Formby in a reminiscent mood. Written and Produced by Richard Afron Orchestra - Woolf Phillips and the Orchestra Set Design - Roger Andrews The songs that George performed: It Serves You Right Down The Old Coal Hole Swim Little Fish Guarding The Home of The Home Guards Goodnight Little Fellow Goodnight Sitting On The Ice In The Icc Rink Medley: When I'm Cleaning Windows, Chinese Laundry Blues, Leaning On A Lamp Post. (Recording played of George Formby Snr: Standing At the Corner of The Street)
GEORGE’S OPENING WORDS AND SONG FROM THE FRIDAY SHOW