The Mike Yarwood Christmas Show

Filmed: Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 December 1978

Location: BBC Television Centre, London, England

Broadcast: See below for detailed info

Release status: See below

Duration: Whole programme: 44 minutes, 54 seconds

Shown in: UK

Additional information

Mike Yarwood was one of the UK's most popular and successful entertainers at the time. His Christmas Day show was one of the "must-see" programmes for a few years in the mid-late 1970s.  He was an impersonator and his shows always featured the most prominent politicians and personalities of the time.  He would have been at the height of his stardom in 1978 and his Christmas Show was the biggest thing on TV over the Christmas period, hence why the show was highlighted on the cover of the Christmas edition of the TV listing guide, The Radio Times.

ABBA were special guests on the Christmas edition of The Mike Yarwood Show.

The running order of the show after an amusing opening scene:

  1. Janet Brown impersonating Margaret Thatcher (sketch)
  2. Mike Yarwood impersonating US President Jimmy Carter (sketch)
  3. Mike Yarwood impersonating Frank Sinatra (sketch)
  4. ABBA - If It Wasn't For The Nights (an early edited mix without strings)
  5. Christmas Edition of News at Ten with Mike Yarwood as Reginald Bosenquet and Janet Brown as Anna Ford (sketch)
  6. ABBA take part in a spoof of The Generation Game with Mike Yarwood impersonating The Generation Game host (at the time), Larry Grayson and Janet Brown impersonating co-host Isla St Clair.
  7. ABBA - Thank You For the Music
  8. Bruce Forsyth's Big Night (sketch)
  9. Mike Yarwood closing scene (some jokes and songs on the same spot that ABBA performed Thank You For the Music)

Bearing in mind Agnetha & Björn's marriage had only three weeks until they separated, it must have been an incredibly stressful time for them both. Knowing this fact adds poignancy to the programme and especially Agnetha's apparently happy smiles during Thank You For the Music.

ABBA had travelled to London on Wednesday 6 December ready to record this TV show on Sunday 10 December 1978. While in London, they spent a day at CBS Studios with three Swedish musicians in order to comply with UK broadcasting rules (ie. that the backing tracks for any TV performance must not be cadged in any way from the original record).  During their time at the CBS Studios they also filmed their appearance for Jim'll Fix It.  It is also strongly suspected that this photo session took place in London during that trip.

ABBA fan Kevin Munns was in the audience for the recording of The Mike Yarwood Christmas Show on Sunday 10 December 1978.  Kevin has kindly shared his ticket to the recording with us.  Click here for the ticket and click here for the reverse.  He was witness to ABBA wearing the pink (Agnetha) and blue (Frida) glittery costumes and they performed If It Wasn't For The Nights and Thank You For the Music twice (due to a sound problem with the first performance of Thank You For the Music). Kevin recalls that when it was announced that Thank You For The Music needed another take, Agnetha made a joke about one of the technicians, pointing at him saying, "It's his fault!".  They also filmed The Generation Game sketch and the Christmas message which was broadcast on Top of The Pops on Christmas Day 1978.  Note that this means that (unless it has been wiped) there is an unbroadcast version of If It Wasn't For the Nights in the pink/blue glitter outfits at the BBC! Rumour has it that version may also have a "cold ending" so let's hope the BBC are sitting on it somewhere ready to treat us in the future at some point!

It has long been suspected that the broadcast version of If It Wasn't For The Nights was filmed on a different day to The Generation Game sketch and Thank You For The Music because Agnetha's hair looks so different.  The broadcast version of If It Wasn't For The Nights has ABBA wearing the black satin outfits and Agnetha's hair is curlier - when it was straight for everything broadcast in the pink glittery outfit.

According to BBC documents, the production dates for the programme were Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 December 1978 December) so it was probably filmed on Saturday 9 December.  Agnetha's hair was also curlier for this photo session and the Jim'll Fix It clip so they may - and probably were - have all been done on the same day.

The brodcast version of If It Wasn't For The Nights had me perplexed as a child by its cleverness with a different colour background on different cameras.  In fact the performance was filmed with four different cameras at the same time but using a form of chromakey green screen.

Read what Charlie had to say from ABBA Magazine No.11:
During the recording of the show, Benny kept the restless audience entertained, starting off with the Laurel & Hardy theme tune on a beautiful white grand piano and continuing with a medley of 'those' tunes (the ones you know but can't remember the name of). The audience got another treat when, due to a fault in the first take, ABBA were asked to do one number twice (ABBA on TV note: It would have been Thank You For the Music).
"Would you like to hear it again?" Frida asked the audience.
"YES!" came a resounding reply.
This time, while the set was being changed, ABBA gave an impromptu performance of Money, Money, Money.

Broadcast information:
Monday 25 December 1978, UK at 20:00 (Christmas Day), BBC1 and Thursday 3 May 1979, 22:10, BBC1, UK.
Re-broadcast Autumn 1986 as part of a lookback at the past.

Release information:
The performance of Thank You For The Music has been officially released on the ABBA - The Album Deluxe edition
The performance of If It Wasn't For The Nights has been officially released on the Voulez Vous Deluxe edition

 

 

 

  1. If It Wasn't For The Nights - Agnetha was wearing an ABBA necklace.
  2. In The Generation Game sketch - Agnetha and Björn emerged from the doors holding hands. Agnetha was clearly unaware of the camera angles and as soon as she and Bjorn get behind Mike Yarwood, she sharply pulled her hand away from Björn’s. Björn tried to grab it back but she held both hands firmly behind her back. This was about the only instance of any possible tension or difficulties in their relationship viewable as they had always been so professional - and it's only been noticed because knowing they were splitting imminently, we've been looking for clues of tension.  But the general viewing public would not have noticed that.

Black sparkly/silky - If It Wasn't For The Nights
Pink (Agnetha) and Blue (Frida) glittery all-in-ones - Generation Game/ Thank You For The Music

Archive data from BBC’s written archive:

LLVA547B
Dec 25, 1978
Archive : BBC
Item Duration : 00:45:08.000+01:00
Core Title : MIKE YARWOOD CHRISTMAS SHOW
Copyright : ?
Catalogue : LONPROG
Copyright source : CHECK
Catalogue Page : 346868
Page Number : 1/1
Programme/Item : Programme
Light entertainment commedy show starring Mike YARWOOD w spec guest stars Abba, w Janet BROWN.
Vt prog w sps film inserts.

Information from ABBA Magazine Nos.11 & 20. Extra thanks to Ice, Richard Knight, Jack, Ken Griffin, Erik Liebstaedter, Jozsef, Sam Shervz, Andy Ball, Alexandre Carvalho and Colin Collier.  Thanks also to Ken Griffin c/o ABBA Village. Further information from Andrew Keating, Daniel Flores, Dean Morrison, Simon Mathias and huge thanks to Kevin Munns c/o ABBAtalk.
YouTube links c/o dunebasher1971

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