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Extract From Clive James' column in The Observer - 20th November 1977.

Rock Follies of 77
(Thames) came to the end of its exultant course. In the last two episodes the Little Ladies were embroiled in various processes of paying dues, going through changes, and getting it together. Actually the only thing that occurred was the inevitable: an unwritten law, that talent is destiny, was working itself out. Anna and Q went to the wall. Dee and Rox headed for the top.
  The chief subject of Howard Schuman's continuously excellent script was how the remorseless logic of showbiz success is really both those things - remorseless and logical. In real life there might be room for sentiment, but in the sentimental world of popular music everything is real.
   Even at their most imaginative, all the details were authentic. Kitty Screiber (Beth Porter) really would say, 'We don't want to flaunt our dirty linen in front of the Melody Maker,' and the Melody Maker reporter really would shamble about making semi-articulate sounds. Close observation was the basis of the show's inventiveness. Rock Follies had its low moments, but on the whole it deserved its reputation as one of the most original television series ever made. And on top of that, it had Little Nell.
   Rock Follies Explored, as they say, the Medium, but Exploring the Medium was not its first concern. Its first concern was to tell a story. Any work of art which sets out in the first instance to Explore its Medium will never be any good. <snip>



It's just as well Rock Follies ended last night.
  For the final script gave every indication that writer Howard Schuman had run out of juice and was pretty fed up with the whole damn thing.
Some of the perform

Little Ladies
end on a
note that's
not so sweet

it's ups and downs. For those who missed the last episode and want to know what happened to the Little Ladies, Anna and "Q" finally went single and Dee and Rox made the big time to Wembley and Madison Square Garden.

ers looked as if they had run out of conviction, too, as they tried to boot some life into a nag that was clearly skidding to a halt


Only the words and music retained the excitement of some of the earlier work - Mr Schuman with the lyrics and Andy Mackay with the music make a brilliant song writing team.
  Tying up some of the loose ends in the last episode, however, Mr

Schuman seems to have lost a lot of his satirical bite.
  There was not a very clever send up of a Greek singer not dissimilar to Nana Maskouri, some tired mickey-taking of Welsh mothers and their ambitions for inside loos, and a lot of idle posturing by unconvincing wheeler -dealers like Kitty Schrieber.
   The big theme was a calipso-type song about the rip-off perpetuated upon a gullible British public by the phoney patriotism of Jubilee Year.

The song was good, "Come to Britain for the Jubilee"- and, remarkably, managed to include unemployment figures.
  But much of Mr Schuman's American assessment of the much abused British spirit was lame and simply abusive.
  I've got a feeling Mr Schuman might be a little petulant about the television strike that held up production of Rock Follies for a while.
  At its best some of the episodes in the whole series were superb - but it had


Poor old Julie Covington had to whine and groan right to the end, though with the neurotic Dee still looking as if she had swallowed a lemon whole as she emptied a gin bottle down after it.
  It's a pity Miss Covington has turned down the chance to play Eva Peron because she'll need something pretty powerful to get rid of the Dee image.
She's much too good a singer to be stuck with that.

Daily Mirror


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LIKE it or not, and far from everyone did, "Rock Follies of '77" (ITV), which ended last night, was arguably the most exciting piece of TV entertainment to have been made in Britain, or anywhere else for that matter.
  Whether or not it showed us the inside of the pop industry as it really is, or merely the inside of Howard Shumans' (sic) head, is a matter of academic interest only.
The important thing about "Rock

Follies" was that Shuman and pop music came together in the first place, and that the resultant sparks set off a chain of creativity that demolished a good many of the boundaries within which TV thought itself to be confined.
  The Little Ladies, what happened to them, the far-out characters whom they encountered, and the songs they sang along the way from obscurity to
disintegration, were but fragments, like

pieces cut out from an oil painting.
  Taken separately, they ranged from the passable to the pleasing, but it was the manner in which they were brought together that made "Rock Follies" exceptional.
  It was a visual extravaganza, blended together with a sharp, pun -gent, indefatigably witty script that welled up from what seemed to be a source of unfathomable contempt.

  "Rock Follies" derived much of its dynamism from a central destructiveness that turned, in the first series, into crude self- destruction.
  The same process was discernible in "Follies of '77", but this time it was more subtle, as though Shuman had learned to tame it a bit, but not quite enough.



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