Arlene Phillips’ Hot Gossip (1974–86)

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Arlene Phillips was a modern jazz dancer and as a teenager, had moved to London, where she quickly established herself as a successful teacher and choreographer. In 1970, while teaching dance,

Arlene was invited to replace Margo Sappington in Oh! Calcutta! avant-garde theatrical revue, created by British drama critic, Kenneth Tynan. The show, consisted of sketches on sex-related topics and ran in London for over 3,900 performances, and in New York initially for 1,314. The show sparked considerable controversy at the time due to its extended scenes of total nudity, both male and female.

In 1974, she worked with the Lindsay Kemp Company and featured in his ‘Flowers’, a mime and music show based on Jean Genet's novel Our Lady of the Flowers. Flowers went on to enjoy enormous international success. She formed Hot Gossip in 1974, using students she was teaching at the time. Hot Gossip continued a trend which started with The Go-Jo's and Pan's People on Top of the Pops. Under the management of Michael Summerton and Iain Burton, they worked for two years in Munkberry's Club in Jermyn Street, London. Noted for their risqué costumes and highly rated dance routines David Mallet (television director and music video maker) invited them to appear as regulars on ITVs The Kenny Everett Video Show (Thames Television) in 1978. Mallet rose to prominence in the 80s and worked with many luminaries of the time.

pans people

Pan's People 

The Kenny Everett Video Show (later renamed The Kenny Everett Video Cassette) ran from 1978 to 1981. The show's format was conceived by and Kenny Everett frustrated they could not watch on television what they wanted to see. The original format had Cuddly Ken as a visual DJ linking studio performances from bands, singers, and the show's resident dance troupe, Hot Gossip. As the series grew in popularity, the linking material became longer and more varied. The Kenny Everett Video Show became a number one show in England, winning numerous awards both here and abroad.

Hot Gossip was not a stable line-up but instead made up of many professional dancers over the years. Mixed-gender and mixed race, the usual Kenny Everett line-up was: Mark Tyme, Roy Gale, Floyd Pearce (previously with Ruby Flipper and Pan’s People), Dominique Wood, Donna Fielding, Carol Fletcher, Perri Lister, Lyndsey Ward, Sarah Brightman and Lorraine Whitmarsh. Many went onto other careers in acting and entertainment but at the time singer, Sarah Brightman had the highest-profile. A soprano, she made “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper", which was backed by Hot Gossip. The disco song reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and Hot Gossip also recorded "Making Love on a Phone" before releasing an album in 1981, called Geisha Boys and Temple Girls.

Hot Gossip was not a stable line up but instead made up of many professional dancers over the years. Mixed gender and mixed race

Hot Gossip was not a stable line-up but instead made up of many professional dancers over the years. 

In 1979, Mark Tyme, Dom Wood, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Carol Fletcher, Lyndsey Ward, Donna Fielding, Lee Black left Hot Gossip to set up, Sponooch. They featured on a couple of BBC shows and signed to EMI. Sponooch released several singles which failed to attract much attention but did a tour with Rick Wakeman as a support act.

When Kenny and the ITV disagreed over censorship in 1981, Cuddly Ken and Hot Gossip parted company as Everett went to the BBC for The Kenny Everett Television Show. They were reunited in 1986 when they featured in the fourth season of The Kenny Everett Television Show (BBC). Arene Phillips, Michael Summerton and Iain Burton continued their association during which time Hot Gossip continued to enjoy wide popularity and success. After the Kenny Everett Video Show, Hot Gossip featured in a hour-long special from London Lyceum for Channel 4 called The Very Hot Gossip Show, produced by Iain Burton. The Very Hot Gossip Show was one of the highest rating shows for Channel 4 in 1982.

After leaving Arelene Phillips' Hot Gossip, Sarah Brightman continued to release more disco singles under her own label. In 1981, she made her West End musical theatre debut in Cats and met composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom she later married. She went on to star in several West End and Broadway musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera. Sarah Brightman became the world's best-selling soprano and topped the charts all over the world selling millions of records

hot gossip sarah brightman

Many went onto other careers in acting and entertainment but at the time singer, Sarah Brightman had the highest-profile.

Arlene Phillips continued as a celebrated choreographer sought out by the glitterati for private tuition and well as in demand for avant-garde TV commercials. Alan Carr invited to Hollywood to choreograph and stage the musical sequences for ‘Can’t Stop The Music’ (1980).

Between the late 70s and early 80s, she was in constant demand and choreographed and staged musical sequences for a number of films including Escape To Athena (1979), The Bitch (1979), The World Is Full Of Married Men (1979). She was invited to work with Lauren Bacall in The Fan (1981) and in the same year, choreographed and staged the musical sequences for ‘Annie’ the movie, directed by John Huston.

The eighties and nineties saw her busy with more TV and film work including Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (1983), Digital Dreams (1983) (TV), Legend (1985), It Couldn’t Happen Here (1987), Salome’s Last Dance (1988), White Hunter Black Heart (1990), The Wind in the Willows (1996). She also became involved with musical theatre including We Will Rock You, Saturday Night Fever, Starlight Express, Time, Matador and Grease. Her skill set featured on many pop videos for artists including The Bee Gees, Duran Duran, Erasure, Aretha Franklin, Boy George, Whitney Houston, Elton John and Pet Shop Boys

In the third millennium, Arlene Phillips choreographed the 2002 Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies along with David Zolkwer. Then in 2009 and 2012, she choreographed the UK entries to the Eurovision Song Contest. Arlene Phillips has remained a strong and sometimes outspoken advocate for dance as an art form and constantly promotes the same on television and in popular culture. In 2013, she appeared on Let's Dance for Comic Relief in the Dance Judge Panel with Greg James and Lee Mack. Arlene Phillips’ life-long contribution to modern dance is immeasurable and she and her dancers have changed popular entertainment on TV, pop video, stage musicals and film.

arlene phillips hot gossip 2

Arlene Phillips

The article used by Kind Permission and with thanks from ZANI


Read 555 times Last modified on Monday, 06 January 2020 17:35
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