The Bee Gees at the BBC… and Beyond

Tx. 19.12.14. 10.00-11.00pm, BBC Four

Another of the BBC’s archive comps, this one including some new and (to me) previously unseen footage.  The selections are well balanced between Bee Gees’ eras although, not surprisingly perhaps, 1972-74 material is completely unrepresented.

In order, here is the rundown of the pre-1975 footage:

New York Mining Disaster 1941
Recorded at the Speakeasy Club on London’s Margaret Street and in glorious scarlet. Top 50 songs

Perhaps the jewel here for its rarity, this is from a recently recovered 1968 Top of the Pops.  The sound and picture quality aren’t up to much but it’s great to see a performance of this superb lesser known hit. [UPDATE 30.12.14:  According to Missing Episodes Forum this clip is from a 1967 Top of the Pops which ties in with ‘World’ being released as a single in December of that year].  Top 50 songs

This clip surfaces with regular ease.  It is taken from Top of the Pops, b/w, probably the Christmas 1967 edition as I don’t think earlier ToTP footage survives. Massachusetts

From Belgian TV’s violet tinged Idea Special with its punchy, treble dynamic sound and crisp presentation.  The brothers perform on a rotating turntable, the resulting film presumably achieved by stitching together various performances.  Witness Barry’s feet deftly turning against the turntable so he doesn’t spin out of view until he’s completed his vocal. Top 50 songs

There is a real unity of style here which suggests the Idea Special gave an almost conceptual treatment to ‘Idea’, probably influenced by ‘Yellow Submarine’.  I assume the album featured in its entirety – would love to see this.

Here is a b/w still from the show. I think the song here is Idea.

“Only you, Barry, only you…”


I Started a Joke
Again from the Belgian Idea Special, so in crisp colour. Guy Peellaert’s pop art graphics – cut-out letters and vertical slatted effects – provide an engaging visual. Top 50 songs

First of May
Top of the Pops, b/w, boxy sound, ghosting on the picture but somehow it gives one of the Bee Gees most sumptuous and mainstream successes a kind of otherworldliness.  First of May

August, October
A surprise entry here as the obvious ‘Robin solo’ contribution would be Saved by the Bell. This is taken from The Young Generation and is in colour.  I would say the year is 1970.  Although not one of Robin’s strongest songs it’s a most welcome addition here.

Lonely Days
In colour.  The source is unattributed but it looks like a pop special of some kind.  Barry and Robin stand on biomorphic mirrored podiums. Top 50 songs

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
From Whittaker’s World of Music, LWT, 1971, colour.  The brothers perform this emotionally wrenching ballad Beat Club style standing individually amid a rather stolid young audience who nonetheless applaud at the end.  How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

Morning of My Life
This is essentially an acoustic take on the Melody Fair version of ‘Morning of My Life’, therefore placing it midway between the 1966 ‘folk’ original and the string drenched Melody Fair ballad version.

This is taken from LWT’s The Pop People – the title suggests a new breed of exotic creatures held up to ITV audiences for their examination and, perhaps, appreciation.  I think the 1972 series  may have been made to show off LWT’s new studio space at their recently opened South Bank Centre but I could be wrong here.  A fat pop font informs us that Robin ‘writes musicals at his home in Surrey.’ Top 50 songs

To Love Somebody
The hour concludes with a Late Show era acoustic version of the 1967 classic. Top 50 songs

The Joy of the Bee Gees lightspots review
Life with the Bee Gees
Bee Gees Top 50 1966-72

2 thoughts on “The Bee Gees at the BBC… and Beyond

  1. Hi,

    Do you have any information you could share on the recent TOTP recovery that had the performance of ‘World’ on it please.


  2. Good question Steve, I wondered the same thing myself. According to Bob Savage on forum, World aired on ToTP three times in 1967 (not 1968 as I incorrectly stated – sorry!): 30th Nov, 14th Dec and 28th Dec.

    Nostalgia Music TV list surviving clips and complete shows but there’s no mention of World. They also have a ‘Recoveries’ update page under construction so worth checking there for more news. I suspect what we saw is an isolated clip as I think we would have heard more had a complete show been recovered.

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