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Santa Mark
post Apr 16 2016, 11:53 AM
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http://www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/65...h-Ayshea-Brough

TV firm wiped my past when they destroyed all the tapes of Lift Off With Ayshea Brough

She is part of Britain’s television heritage, burned into the soul of a generation of teenagers, but the image of Ayshea Brough remains only in our memories – because her greatest moments have been wiped from history.

By DANNY BUCKLAND
PUBLISHED: 00:01, Sun, Apr 10, 2016



The 141 episodes of Lift Off With Ayshea, the must-see 1970s pop programme, were lost in a digital transfer error, robbing the singer and presenter of a fortune in repeat fees.

The 21-year-old pin-up presented David Bowie’s first performance of Starman, ushered in Slade’s debut of the classic Merry Xmas Everybody and every week introduced stars such as Marc Bolan and T-Rex, the Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy and The Sweet.

“All those golden moments have been destroyed; 10 years of my work just gone,” says Ayshea, elegant and glamorous in her 60s.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found out. Apparently Granada TV was transferring them to digital and instead of getting rid of the three tapes that were repeats, they ditched the 141 originals. It’s heartbreaking.

“Forget about the money I could have earned in repeat fees, what about losing a part of our cultural heritage? Lift Off was on every week and we always had a top three act and a new release.

“Everyone watches re-runs of Top Of The Pops so they must be mystified, as I was, why Lift Off never got shown. The answer is that it doesn’t exist any more. I’m just hoping that there are some tapes somewhere in the world and Sunday Express readers can help me track them down.”

The loss has left Ayshea’s image frozen in the 1970s, an era when she was a prime choice for magazine photo-shoots and the gossip columns. Every week she would travel from London to Manchester to record the show, often travelling with the singers and groups booked on the early evening series.

“We had lots of fun. I presented a part of the show at a desk with the puppets Ollie Beak and Fred Barker and the crew would tie my shoelaces together or undo my dress zip and I’d then have to sing live,” says Ayshea, who went to stage school and started as a pop singer aged 17 – lying about her age to join the Drifters on tour in Germany.

“None of the groups were any trouble, even the ones with tough images. Everyone just got on with it and we all knew each other from the club circuit.

“We would work six nights a week at clubs like the Marquee, 200 to 400 people in and the crowd only three feet away. People like Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money and the The Who would come to see me and I would go to their shows.

"You’d finish and then hang out at the bar and you built up a following. Now, they have 500 bodyguards, play arenas rather than clubs and don’t have that connection with the fans.

“We made our money from live performances not record sales but now they fight to get a record deal and the quickest way is by going on a reality show. It is now a massive industry with millions and millions at stake. It is stifling but good artists still come through.

"Look at Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and some of the girls such as Ellie Goulding and Jessie J are fabulous.”

Posters of Ayshea, often clad in figure hugging Mary Quant white mini-skirts, adorned the bedroom walls of teenagers around the country.

“I am aware that I was regarded as being sexy but it was nothing like what happens today,” she adds.

“I think the exploitation is bad now and girl singers have been put back 15 years by the videos that are out now. Women are used as sex objects; youngsters are half undressed.

“We never had any of that, it was about looking great in the latest fashions but the pressure for girls to strip off now is appalling.

“My sexiness was being in a mini skirt but I wasn’t bumping and grinding with nine guys or simulating sex on stage in a concert. I’ve been in the music industry since I was 17 and I’m no prude but it’s sad that girls feel pressured by record executives to make a video where they are half naked.”

Ayshea is back after 19 years in Los Angeles where she lived with her third husband, a Hollywood agent and studio president, before starting an interior design business. Her career and life arc mirror the flaring intensity of the 1970s.

She appeared in the cult sci-fi TV show UFO and was rarely out of the head-lines, marrying record producer Chris Brough, who helped discover Cat Stevens.

Her punishing work regime ended the marriage after four years and she became engaged to Roy Wood, the leader of Wizzard, before tumbling into a tempestuous but brief marriage to heart-throb actor Steven Alder.

Lift Off was grounded in 1974 and, although a regular on game shows, she settled in LA after being invited over by the actress Susan George.

“She was a great friend and I originally only went for two weeks,” says Ayshea.

“She threw a party the day I arrived and I met my third husband that night. Eight weeks later he had proposed to me.

“Michael Levy was the president of CBS and I became a Hollywood wife. I couldn’t believe the size of our home and we had staff. But it is an existence that can eat you up if you are not grounded.

“The stars are so cosseted that they are not in touch with reality and a lot of women live in fear of losing their elevated lifestyle. They are commodities and scared they will be replaced when they get older.”

The marriage lasted four years but they had no children.

“I desperately wanted a family but he didn’t which is why we parted. He had two children and didn’t want more. He wanted me to stay at home but I didn’t want to just hang around counting my dresses, I’m too independent for that.

“I was in my 30s and thought if I didn’t leave I would never have children. Sadly, it didn’t happen for me and, although it’s a big regret, I am fatalistic about it.”

Ayshea moved to Grantham to be close to her mother, whose health is failing, and now makes appearances at science fiction conventions.

“I love doing the conventions and I’m always touched by the loyalty of fans who come from all over the country to see me,” she says.

“Some of them weren’t alive when Lift Off and UFO were on television, but they are very well informed.

“The 1970s were the happiest times for me with Lift Off, panto and cabaret and I think those days provide happy memories for everyone, they take us back to a different era.

“I just feel very sad and frustrated that we can’t see those programmes with all those great, iconic performances. Maybe someone out there can track copies down.

“It is fantastic that people still recognise me in the street and it is nice to be part of their good memories. I’m just desperate now to appear on Strictly Come Dancing. They always have an older woman and I can dance and it would be good for women in their 60s because I still look good and stay fit.”

Ayesha’s Lift Off may have been wiped from the TV tapes but for millions it still lives on as a golden memory.

Do you have a copy of any Lift Off TV shows, or know anyone who does? Email clair.woodward@express.co.uk


This post has been edited by Mark.: Apr 16 2016, 02:32 PM
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Popchartfreak
post Apr 16 2016, 06:31 PM
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big fan of Ayshea back in the day, and yes I remember that Starman debut weeks ahead of Top Of The Pops for Bowie. Also so many non-hits that were on the show that were good too, not to mention Ayshea doing hits of the day herself. Loved UFO even more, so I hope the call for lost episodes works - I filled in some details for one episode I wrote the track listing down as a fanboy 14-year-old in my popchart notebook for another website so I was chuffed to see lost info filled in, even if the episode is gone...

yay!
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Santa Mark
post Apr 28 2016, 04:39 PM
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A man called Ronnie Gerrard was offering a load of missing TOTP and Lift Off stuff on missing episodes forum last year.
The asking price was too much for them apparently.
http://missingepisodes.proboards.com/threa...39-tape-listing
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Popchartfreak
post Apr 28 2016, 06:43 PM
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Wow! This is very frustrating for me, it sounds like it's authentic, much of my early teen memories are listed on the 71-73 Lift Off and TOTP's. I can correct quite a few of the mentions on the list, like the early Real Thing single Vicious Circle, and forgotten acts like Harley Quin, Dandy Livingstone, classics like Happy Xmas war Is Over, Argent Hold Your Head Up, Jo Jo Gunne Run Run Run, John Kongos, fab toons like Soley Soley, Johnny Nash's Bob Marley cover Stir It Up, Marmalade's Radancer, the fab flop I Like It That Way (I was mad on this) from The Tremeloes, Osmonds Going Home, Nazereth's Bad Bad Boy, and even daft stuff like Puckwudgie, are pure gold to me.

The BBC should buy them whatever the cost - there are no archive materials of so much of it, they can do the early 70's justice at long last in specials.

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