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.

Given the influence the city had over popular music and entertainment in the 1960s, it was no surprise that many of the panellists came from Manchester.

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

Local stars on the show included Freddie Garrity of Freddie and the Dreamers, singer Georgie Fame, Coronation street actress Amanda Barrie, entertainers Eric Sykes and Bernard Cribbins and broadcaster Joan Bakewell.

Steptoe and Son actor Harry H. Corbett, who grew up in Ardwick and Wythenshawe, was a panellist along with Wigan comedian Ted Ray and Salford stage and screen star Albert Finney.

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!

Panellist Freddie Garrity, centre, with his group the Dreamers, September 1963

Panellist Freddie Garrity, centre, with his group the Dreamers, September 1963

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.

Ashton-under-Lyne actress Amanda Barrie, August 1965

Ashton-under-Lyne actress Amanda Barrie, August 1965

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 sometimes led 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 identified with the comments of bemused non-musical guests.

Dora Bryan and Amanda Barrie, third and fourth left, in a Beatles’ sketch, August 1963

Dora Bryan and Amanda Barrie, third and fourth left, in a Beatles’ sketch, August 1963

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.

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.

Wigan singer-songwriter Georgie Fame, January 1965

Wigan singer-songwriter Georgie Fame, January 1965

Ashton-under-Lyne actress Amanda Barrie and Oldham Rep’s Dora Bryan, both jurors on the TV show, created their own version of the Beatles in the stage revue Six of One in 1963.

They joined up with Sheila O’Neill and Pamela Hart to impersonate the Fab Four in the travelling production – even donning crop-top wigs!

Barrie made her Juke Box Jury debut in 1965, by which time she’d famously played Cleopatra to Sid James’ Julius Caesar in the 1964 movie Carry on Cleo.

Oldham actor and comedian Bernard Cribbins, March 1962

Oldham actor and comedian Bernard Cribbins, March 1962

Crumpsall’s Freddie Garrity, the energetic front man of Freddie and the Dreamers, first appeared on the show in 1963 on the back of a string of Top Ten hits including I’m Telling You Now.

Albert Finney made his Juke Box Jury debut in 1963 after winning critical acclaim for his leading roles in the 1960 kitchen-sink drama Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and the Oscar-winning 1963 movie Tom Jones. 

Wigan-born Georgie Fame first appeared on Juke Box Jury in 1964, a year before he topped the UK singles chart with Yeh Yeh. 

Salford film star Albert Finney, right, with Tom Courtenay, June 1961

Salford film star Albert Finney, right, with Tom Courtenay, June 1961

Oldham actor and comedian Bernard Cribbins was a latecomer as a panellist, making his debut in 1966. 

He was already a familiar face on TV and the big screen having starred in the movies Two-Way Stretch and The Wrong Arm of the Law as well as Carry On films.

Stockport journalist and presenter Joan Bakewell 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 Beatles on Juke Box Jury with host David Jacobs, December 1963

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

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.

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