Pan's People co-founder Flick Colby dies, aged 65

Pan's People co-founder Flick Colby dies, aged 65
Pan's People co-founder Flick Colby dies, aged 65 (Image credit: PA)

The driving force behind Top of the Pops' dance troupe Pan's People has died of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 65. Flick Colby was the dancer and choreographer credited with co-founding the group that went on to become an iconic part of British pop culture. Before the age of the music video, which dawned with the arrival of MTV, the dance troupe provided the visual entertainment when an artist could not appear on the BBC show. They were not the first such group to appear on the pop programme - they were preceded by the Go-Jos - but they were TOTP's first exclusive set of dancers. And they came to be as synonymous with the much-loved chart show as cigar-chomping Jimmy Savile and the pounding Led Zeppelin theme tune. Although Flick was an American who grew up in Clinton, New York, it was on British television that she found fame. She joined dancers Babs Lord, Ruth Pearson and Dee Dee Wilde and recruited Louise Clarke and Andi Rutherford to form Pan's People in 1966. At the time, their outfits were seen as somewhat skimpy and their dance routines considered daring. As well as being a staple of 1960s and 1970s TOTP, Pan's People featured on a number of other TV shows, including The Two Ronnies. Although at first Flick was both choreographing the routines and dancing with the group, she later retreated to a behind-the-scenes role only. When the group split after this final performance, the women were said to have remained close friends. But Flick eventually moved back to the US, where she married and settled down in Clinton with her husband George and opened a gift shop. Philip Day, who has been Pan's People's publicist for more than 40 years, said: "Challenging as the task was, the ladies, spearheaded by Flick, made it a pleasure. Never a moan, always on time and true professionals at all times. I will never see their like again."

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.