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Episode 1

Episode 1 of 2

Duration:
57 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 24 April 2012

Johnny Gold may not be a household name himself, but all of the friends he's made in his remarkable lifetime certainly are. Paul Sexton tells the story of the man who ran London's most glamorous nightclub, Tramp, in its glittering heyday.

Tramp, which opened in 1969, and before that its predecessor Dolly's, were the night-time haven of the famous and fabulous from the worlds of film, music, sport and even royalty. Almost every celebrity worth the name passed through Gold's doors, from Muhammad Ali to Frank Sinatra, George Best to Peter Sellers, Robert Mitchum to Jack Lemmon: "I remember Prince Andrew coming up to me one night," remembers Gold, "and saying 'Johnny, isn't it fantastic, there's all these famous people here.'"

An extraordinary cast list of patrons join Gold to take part in the series, as he nears his 80th birthday in June. They include Hollywood giants Sir Michael Caine, Sidney Poitier and Mickey Rourke; rock royalty Rod Stewart, Bryan Ferry and Bill Wyman; Joan and Jackie Collins, Michael Winner and Formula 1's Eddie Jordan.

In part one, Johnny explains how a Brighton bookmaker who, by his own confession, knew nothing about the club business, came to spend his golden years as both friend and confessor to the biggest stars in the world. He recalls how, even as he was learning his trade, John Wayne wanted to punch him on the nose.

Gold's lifetime pal Sir Michael Caine - still his neighbour whenever they're both in London - remembers his days as an eligible bachelor, when he was "Disco Mike" on the dancefloor, and at least one occasion when all of the Beatles and all of the Rolling Stones were in Johnny's club with him.

For rare radio appearances, Gold visits Joan Collins, Jackie Collins and Sidney Poitier at their homes in Los Angeles. Joan, another avid dancer, recalls her first clubgoing days, when Ringo Starr showed her how to do the Monkey and she herself taught Tennessee Williams the Twist. Jackie describes how "every night was a party" in the 1960s, hanging out at the Ad Lib club where she first met Gold.

Wyman tells how he and Brian Jones used to go to Dolly's ("they had a DJ in there in a car, it was quite bizarre") and Poitier, now 85, reminisces with Gold about visiting that club for the first time when he was in London making the groundbreaking British movie To Sir With Love.

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