Television: Lift Off With Ayshea

David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed ‘Starman’ on the British TV show Lift Off With Ayshea on 15 June 1972.

The shoot took place at Granada Studios in Manchester. The appearance necessitated the cancellation of a concert in Coventry.

The episode of Lift Off With Ayshea was broadcast on 21 June. Although the audio survives, Granada Television wiped the footage after the screening.

Lift Off With Ayshea was a children’s show, filmed in Manchester by Granada for the ITV network, which ran from 1969 to 1974. Presented by Ayshea Brough, it showcased new music requested by viewers, either performed in the studio by musicians, Ayshea herself, or a dance troupe.

For the ‘Starman’ performance, the Spiders were joined by Nicky Graham on piano. It was first shown six days after the recording, on 21 June.

David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars on Lift Off With Ayshea, 15 June 1972

The promotion continued with us performing ‘Starman’ on a show for Granada TV called Lift Off With Ayshea on 16 June [sic]. We were all getting changed in the dressing room before the show started when Bowie did something we hadn’t seen him do before. He took out a bag containing make-up!

We watched in disbelief as he applied various strange substances to his face…

‘Aren’t you putting make-up on?’ he asked.

The answers from us varied from ‘Fuck no’ to ‘No fucking way’.

‘It’s a shame,’ he said. ‘You’re going to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people and your faces are going to be green under these TV lights.’

He played us brilliantly: we looked at each other and we didn’t even have to speak or discuss it. None of us wanted to look green!

He then asked us to get made up for the live shows, too, and we didn’t like that at first – but as Bowie himself later put it, once we found out the effect the make-up had on the girls, we had no problem with it.

Mick Woodmansey
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie

Lift Off With Ayshea was often considered to be ITV’s answer to Top Of The Pops. With viewing figures of around 15 million, musicians knew that to get a place on TOTP would provide priceless exposure, and a memorable performance would be a guaranteed discussion topic in pubs and playgrounds across the nation for several days.

Last updated: 20 April 2023
Live: Colston Hall, Bristol
UK album release: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
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