“Fame” has always had a very special place in the hearts of the people from the U.K. The summer of 1982 cannot be remembered without thinking of the energy and excitement that the TV series generated. Right from the outset, on 17th June 1982, the TV series became a huge ratings hit for the BBC, regularly placing in the Top 5 TV programmes. “Fame” made Thursday nights must see TV with Top of The Pops as its lead in, finally the youth of the nation had its own night dedicated to pop music and dancing. Soon “Fame” Mania began to sweep the Country.
The “Fame” Theme Song had already been getting attention due to the BBC’s publicity promos for the TV series. Sadly RCA records were unable to secure the rights from RSO records to release Erica Gimpel’s version of the theme as RSO had plans of their own. They quickly re-released Irene Cara’s version of the song from the original 1980 “Fame” Movie. The song hadn’t charted in the U.K. on its original release but the power of the TV show had the song entering the charts just 2 weeks after the show’s debut. Exactly one month after the show began the Theme was at number one in the U.K. singles chart where it stayed for 3 weeks becoming the second biggest selling single of the year. The Top of The Pops audience was full of people wearing “Fame” T-shirts, a trend soon replicated around the British Isles. Members of the TV Series cast made a special message, broadcast on Top of the Pops, where they thanked the British public for their love and support.
A week after Irene Cara hit the Number One Singles spot, The Kids from Fame Album leapt into the U.K. album charts. Two weeks later it was also Number One, knocking the Original Fame Soundtrack album off the top, where it stayed for 8 consecutive weeks, only dropping down when the first series of “Fame” came to an end on BBC TV. However, a few weeks later with the success of the number 3 single “Starmaker” the album regained the top spot and stayed there for a further 4 weeks. With a total of 12 weeks at number One the album became the biggest selling BBC Records album ever and it became the 2nd biggest selling album of 1982.
After a hit TV series, 2 huge selling albums and 2 top 5 singles the next step was a tour. The U.K. was the first place the “Fame” cast ever performed live. On a break in filming the second season, for the Christmas holidays, 6 members of the cast fly to the U.K. and performed 9 concerts in a whirlwind 5 day tour! Demand for the tickets was huge and it was quickly announced that they would return 3 months later, when filming on the Second Season was complete.
With fantastic reviews a live album and video were prepared for release in early 1983 just as the Fame gang returned for a much bigger second tour. The live single “Friday Night” also became a big U.K. hit and the cast were all over U.K. TV and the press. As the tour came to an end the second season of “Fame” burst on to British TV screens.
An abundance of merchandise flooded the U.K. market: 2 further Top 30 albums; novels, annuals, posters, sticker books, ice cream lollies, colouring books, magazines and a large assortment of “Fame” clothing, with legwarmers becoming the must have fashion item.
In America the series was in trouble and poor ratings led to cancellation by NBC, the TV network that had broadcast the first two seasons. It looked like the dream was over, however the BBC started talks with MGM and Italian TV Company RAI to co-finance two further seasons which were to keep “Fame” on the air for 2 more years in the U.K.
In January 1986 the last new episode of “Fame” was broadcast and apart from a series of repeats made up of episodes from seasons 1 and 2, which were broadcast later that summer, “Fame” sadly came to an end in the U.K.
However, the show was never forgotten by the British public. Repeats were broadcast on short lived satellite channels like the Children’s Channel and Granada Plus in the early 90s and 00s. New documentaries celebrating the show, and reuniting cast members, were commissioned and broadcast by the BBC (Remember My Name) in 2003 and Channel 4 (Bring Back Fame) in 2009. This all helped to keep the “Fame” memory alive and we dared to dream that one day the cast would return to British shores to perform together once more.
Now after all those years of dreaming and waiting those dreams are finally coming true with Fame U.K. Reunion. Eight original cast members will reunite in Liverpool May 3rd to 6th 2019 for a long weekend of music, dance, family and “Fame” Magic. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime experience!