Music show Juke Box Jury was close to compulsive viewing on Saturday nights in the 1960s. 

More than 12 million viewers watched host David Jacobs invite a panel of four celebrities to give their verdict on the week’s latest record releases on the popular BBC programme.

It was no surprise that many of the panellists came from Liverpool given the scale of the Merseybeat music revolution. Cilla Black alone appeared nine times!

The Beatles on Juke Box Jury with host David Jacobs, December 1963

The Beatles on Juke Box Jury with host David Jacobs, December 1963

Other Merseyside stars on the show included Ken Dodd, actress and singer Anne Rogers, Lita Roza, Tony Booth, Fred Emney, Frankie Vaughan and DJ Kenny Everett.

Comedian Arthur Askey took part with his actress daughter Anthea, who became a regular panellist in her own right. Garston actress Rita Tushingham, star of the 1961 movie A Taste of Honey, appeared too.

But the biggest Juke Box Jury audience of all was reserved for the Beatles on December 7th 1963. As our photo shows, all four were on the panel!

The Rolling Stones - the only five-member panel on Juke Box Jury, June 1964

The Rolling Stones – the only five-member panel on Juke Box Jury, June 1964

No less than 23 million watched the show to see the Fab Four. They even had their own customised ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ voting cards to hold up for the cameras.

There was another surge of interest in July 1964 when it was announced that the Rolling Stones would make up the jury. The BBC was inundated with 10,000 requests to watch the recording.

On July 4th, all five members of the Stones formed the panel – the only time in the programme’s history that there were more than four jurors.

Cilla Black and Brian Epstein – both Juke Box Jury panellists, May 1964

Cilla Black and Brian Epstein – both Juke Box Jury panellists, May 1964

After the show, guitarist Keith Richards revealed that the band couldn’t care less about the new songs and ‘trashed’ every record played.

Negative views could sometimes lead to embarrassment as the programme often brought on the artists who’d recorded the singles as surprise guests to face the panel!

Such confrontations added to the drama of the show whose popularity crossed generational boundaries. Younger fans enjoyed seeing the pop stars while older viewers could identify with the comments of sometimes bemused and more senior non-musical guests.

Liverpool actress, dancer and singer Anne Rogers, April 1964

Liverpool actress, dancer and singer Anne Rogers, April 1964

It was said that one of the programmes’ great strengths was that it confirmed both adult and youthful prejudices at the same time.

Juke Box Jury was first broadcast on June 1st 1959. It was usually recorded at the BBC TV Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush, London, in front of a live audience.

The programme was based on the American show Jukebox Jury which was a spin-off from a popular radio series.

Juke Box Jury panel member Lita Roza, January 1957

Juke Box Jury panel member Lita Roza, January 1957

The first British panel consisted of singers Alma Cogan and Gary Miller, DJ Pete Murray and future Magpie children’s programme presenter Susan Stranks. She was meant to represent a teenage view.

Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had two stints as a panellist while John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all appeared separately.

The Askey family – father Arthur and daughter Anthea – were regular jurors. The pair also appeared together in the 1950s sitcoms Living It Up and Love and Kisses as well as the movies Ramsbottom Rides Again and Make Mine a Million.

Radio 1 DJ Kenny Everett, September 1967

Radio 1 DJ Kenny Everett, September 1967

Liverpool-born Lita Roza made her debut on Juke Box Jury in September 1960. She was the first British solo singer to top the UK charts with her 1953 single (How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window? 

Former dance-band vocalist Frankie Vaughan, born in Islington, Liverpool, took his bow on Juke Box Jury in June 1961. By then he’d achieved a string of Top Ten hits including Kisses Sweeter Than Wine in 1957 and the 1961 chart topper Tower of Strength.

Actor Tony Booth, a future star of Till Death Us Do Part, first became a panellist in 1964 – two years before Prescot character actor and comedian Fred Emney in 1966.

Liverpool crooner Frankie Vaughan, January 1957

Liverpool crooner Frankie Vaughan, January 1957

Zany Sefton DJ Kenny Everett made the panel in 1967, the final year of Juke Box Jury’s initial run. Due to a drop in ratings, the show was replaced by Dee Time on Saturday evenings and moved to Wednesdays.

The edition scheduled for November 8th 1967 was cancelled without notice and the final broadcast was made on December 27th. Original panellists Pete Murray and Susan Stranks were brought back for the show’s last outing.

Juke Box Jury made a brief return under Noel Edmonds in 1979. It was memorable for a typically angry appearance by Sex Pistols’ front man Johnny Rotten who eventually walked out of the programme.

A Taste of Honey star Rita Tushingham, January 1965

A Taste of Honey star Rita Tushingham, January 1965

Jools Holland took over as presenter from 1989 to 1990 with Dusty Springfield and DJ Alan Freeman on the final panel.