King Of Clubs

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0120120424

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 nighttime 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.

The story of Johnny Gold - the man who ran London's most glamorous nightclub, Tramp.

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"I used to walk down the stairs of Tramp every night and go 'Showtime!'" says Johnny Gold. "I never knew what was going to happen.'"

Paul Sexton concludes the story of everyone's favourite proprietor and host from the golden era of nightclubs. The programme begins as Johnny Gold and business partner Oscar Lerman open the doors of Tramp, in London's Jermyn Street, for the very first time in 1969.

The hour that follows includes countless funny stories and priceless memories of many of the club's patrons, while also documenting the way fame and glamour themselves used to be, in a time before instant celebrity and phone cameras.

Big names are out in force again to talk about the man who was both friend and father confessor to a generation of fabulous stars, and their fondest times at Tramp, both in London and in the Los Angeles club that followed in the 1980s.

Rod Stewart remembers pinning many a girl against the wall of Tramp and how he would party there until 4am, then get up to play Sunday morning football, smelling less than sweet. Mickey Rourke was another regular, staying until the small hours when Johnny would ask him to put George Best in a taxi and make sure he got home safely. And Bill Wyman remembers how, in his bachelor days, he once turned up at the club with 11 girls.

Michael Winner remembers what happened the night he walked in with Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, and Gold takes Sexton on a daytime tour of the London club, pointing out the spot where Keith Moon lived up to his nickname of "The Loon" by wrecking a chandelier and also walking over a table through guests' dinner.

Joan and Jackie Collins not only hung out at Tramp but found that it led them to work, when the film of Jackie's novel The Stud, starring Joan, was filmed there. Eddie Jordan hung out with his favourite rock stars in Tramp, where even the most private and enigmatic of stars would sometimes see another celebrity they just had to meet, as Bryan Ferry explains about the night he spotted Prince.

"You saw diplomats, people from sports, politics, the movie business, the music business," says Mickey Rourke. "It was just a great time, a great place, and Johnny Gold made it.".

Paul Sexton concludes the story of London's favourite club proprietor and host Johnny Gold