Radio London in 1966
Roy Taylor has kindly scanned this Radlon document from 1966

The document does rather look as if it was written originally as a first draft intended to be sent to the printer at some time in 1966. There appears to have been some indecision as to the page order. Perhaps this was the text for a printed brochure to be sent to potential advertisers.

Mike Stone authored the document, with Radlon MD Philip Birch penning the intro.
In places it is very strangely worded, has some unusual omissions and often fails in its attempts to capture the essence of Radio London.

Legible copies of the pages can be viewed by clicking on individual pictures.

It's unusual that in talking about the Galaxy the author fails to refer to the ship as an American minesweeper named USS Density. Her history as a WW2 decorated ship is touched upon briefly, but her important original name is missing.

The 'Ampex' refers to a reel-to-reel tape recorder; the Scully is a playback-only reel-to-reel machine.

See Mini-Memories Page 8 for a feature about the Big L Discotheque and its female disc jockeys.

The Coronation Ballroom was at Pleasurama in Ramsgate, Kent

Seeing as the Bunny Hunt promotion had taken place around a year earlier and the London Playboy Club was opening around the time that this promotion was written, it's strange that none of the winners' names are included.

We have covered the subject of the Bunny Hunt competition in an item published previously in 'What's Happening'. An updated version of it is repeated below.

The Programme Controller's name is omitted. When Ben Toney left, his place was taken by Senior Sales Executive Alan Keen.

In this lengthy explanation of 'Formula Radio' (surely Top Forty FORMAT radio?) there is nothing about Climbers, which were, of course, an essential part of the weekly playlist, nor is there any reference to the PAMS jingles that were as much a of the station's identity and personality as the DJs.

I do not recall The Radio London Club ever being referred to as The Big L fan club.

'...operate his own panel while transmitting?' 'While broadcasting', surely?

TW may be top of the list, but he is not named as the Head DJ. Interestingly, Tony's illustrious knees are given a mention!


The inclusion of Norm St John on the DJ list assists us in dating the document to in or after July '66, when Norm joined the station.

Unfortunately, Tony Blackburn has fallen off the bottom of the page.

"Be a Bunny, honey"
Promoted in August 1965, the Bunny Hunt was a Big L competition to find "a young girl between the ages of 18 and 23" to train as a 'Bunny Girl' and work at the new London Playboy Club.

Six winners who'd been picked from photos sent to Radio London, would fly to the USA on September 15th for 3 months of all-expense-paid training. They would then be employed at the Playboy Club (which opened in July '66 in Park Lane) on New Year's Eve at a salary of £35 per week.

More Rabbit Tales
Following Playboy founder Hugh Heffner's demise at the end of September 2017, aged 91, a number of stories and photos appeared in the press about the opening of the London Playboy Club.. BBC News reported that:

"English girls were flown to the US to train as Playboy bunny waitresses and croupiers. A select few were invited to do magazine shoots and to stay at the infamous Playboy mansion in Los Angeles."

The photo on the left, by Getty Images, shows only five bunnies ready to catch the plane to California. However, six girls are shown in photos on Joan Findlay's personal website.

The report goes on to quote Carol Needham from Surrey (aka Lee Ann Michelle) as being one of the six. However, further research by 'Fab' Alan Field shows that Carol was not one of the original party of trainee bunnies as implied by the feature, but rather, a later invitee to join the cottontails.

Carol told the BBC, "I lived there for about four months because they were waiting to shoot my centrefold. Looking back it was quite an amazing thing to have happened, I think only a few from England have been a centrefold."

In fact one of the original Big L 6, Dolly Read, was the first British centrefold. Fab conducted some further research and found stories about the Radio London winners, named as Doreen Allen, Magie Adam, Kathleen Bascombe, Joan Findlay, Catherine MacDonald, and Dolly Read.

Dolly Read (now Martin), who had just turned 18 in September 65, was chosen as Playmate for May 1966. She had first been seen on British TV in the early soap (1962-65) 'Compact'. In the Seventies, Dolly married Dick Martin of the cult comedy show 'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in".

"Dolly and her five British cottontail cousins arrived in Chicago last October. Each member of this sensational sextet–which includes Doreen Allen, Kathleen Bascombe, Joan Findlay, Catherine MacDonald and Magie Adam–won top ratings among 1000 entrants in last summer's nationwide British Bunny Contest sponsored by Radio London. Having since graduated from Bunny Training School and now completing a seven-month apprenticeship at the Chicago Club – with equal emphasis given to such curricular requirements as the Bunny Dip, tableside photography, tending the Playboy Club Gift Shop and Door Bunnying, bumper-pool playing and the extra-special VIP Room service. This group will return to England shortly for the upcoming opening of the ultra-U London Playboy Club." (Playboy Feature) Interesting that the competition was billed as 'nationwide' when Radio London broadcast to only limited areas of the UK. The American writer was very unlikely to have been aware of the British radio scene at the time, or indeed that Radio London was broadcasting from a ship!

Joan Findlay (now Hodges) (current photo here) turned down the offer of posing for a centrefold, as she had recently become engaged to Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave, who ironically had a hit with a song called 'Rabbit'!

Hans Knot and his brilliant team of sleuths identified the tune used as a backing for the Big L Bunny Hunt promo. It was 'Flight of the Foo' by Count Basie - the title presumably a reference to sightings of flying saucers nicknamed 'Foo Fighters'. Thanks and very well done to Hans, Martin and Henk, who solved the mystery.

We'd still like to hear from any of the winning Big L Bunnies

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