Ed Sullivan Bows Out

After a 23 year run that included introducing American audiences to The Beatles, Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones, the last original episode of ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ aired on CBS on March 28, 1971.

The variety programme, which cost $8 million per year, fell victim to ‘the rural purge’, via which several iconic shows that appealed mainly to poorer and older demographics were axed in favour of screening old movies.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider how Sullivan was able to become a TV superstar, despite having no discernible talent for presentation; explain how the host’s advancing senility gave an early advantage to comedian Joan Rivers; and reveal whom this famously polite father figure deigned to call ‘bitch’…

Further Reading:

• ‘Right Here on Our Stage Tonight! - Ed Sullivan's America, By Gerald Nachman’ (University of California Press, 2009): 


• ‘Ed Sullivan, Variety Show Host Influenced American Culture’ (ThoughtCo, 2019): https://www.thoughtco.com/ed-sullivan-4589827

• ‘Elvis Presley performs "Hound Dog" on The Ed Sullivan Show’ (CBS, 1956): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNYWl13IWhY&list=PLQWND5qZhbj0nqnmye5U2g3Z-ai8wos4p

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2023.

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