Alan A Hillier

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The 'Child' Incident TOTP

I love it when something (or someone) uncovers a memory for me and I am grateful to Homer for the innocuous reference to the ‘Child’ dressing room door incident which has allowed another story to bubble to the surface.

As I have always said, some things and incidents did get over exaggerated back in those days (or under exaggerated in some cases) but I can confirm that this particular incident really did happen, although John didn’t smash up the dressing room as was reported in the press at the time ……. ………But not having been there myself how could I be absolutely certain about that??????

The Stranglers (Jean-Jacques Burnel far right)  


Real life is stranger than fiction and sometime in 1988 my wife and I were invited out to dinner at the ‘Romna Gate’ on Southgate roundabout by Big bro Steve,(highly recommended for Indian food fanciers) his wife Delyth and two of Steve’s friends.

We got there a bit early and were eventually joined at the table by Steve, Delyth , Kate Robbins and her husband Keith. Kate was really famous at that time and had her own TV show running called imaginatively “The Kate Robbins show” as well as doing nearly all the female voices for spitting images.

We Really ad a great laugh with Kate who unashamedly gave us her full repertoire while ordering something
“Waiter .Oh Waiter” said Margaret Thatcher.” More wine please chuck” said Cilla Black it went on all night and we were in hysterics and Kate is brilliant company.

The QueenMargaret Thatcher as Hannibal Lecter
As the night wore on Steve eventually explained how he had met Keith whilst on tour with David Cassidy selling his merchandise, but it wasn’t the time or place for the why’s and wherefores, so we left the in-depth getting to know you stuff and just got stuck in to food and the wine and enjoyed the entertainment from Kate…..


The evening was a complete blast and we were to meet Kate and Keith quite a few times over the next few years as Steve and Del set about producing their four daughters.

What’s all this got to do with JJ, a band called Child and a smashed up dressing room door I hear you ask? Well, at one of these family occasions and following more than a few beers, Keith and I got into one of those conversations that up until you get to know someone a bit better, never happen.

“How did you get to know Steve” says I sitting at a table in the garden of a 16th century Inn in a village just outside Northampton

In 1985 Keith and his Twin brother Tim Atack had been drafted in as backing musicians for David Cassidy’s English tour. Steve was doing the merchandising and taking photographs (A serious hobby in those days) and as you do when your on tour, you quickly work out who’s like minded and Steve and Keith hit it off instantly. This tour culminated with a gig at the Royal Albert Hall which was recorded and eventually became the live album called ‘His Greatest Hits Live”

The Royal Albert Hall gig was also where Keith met Kate. Incidentally, Steve is credited on this album for many of the photographs of Cassidy that appeared on the album cover.

David Cassidy

We continued our conversation and we explored our various musical experiences and Keith, a charming guy from Wakefield, West Yorkshire outlined a varied musical career which included an impressive list of artists that he had worked with, normally at the peak of their career, like Bonnie Tyler, Rick Astley, George Macrae and many others.


At some stage the Stranglers were mentioned and Keith looked ashen when he realised the close association Steve and I had had with this notorious band.

Click to view full size image


“That JJ Burnel is a bit of an animal” says Keith
“Why do you say that, have you   

met him" says I

“Well not exactly, but he decided to kick down our dressing room door when we appeared on TOTP”

“Well fuck my old boots” .
Amazingly and after a few years knowing Keith the circle was now complete, Keith’s first band which included Graham Bilbrough, Mike Mckenzie & twin brother Tim Atack were called ‘Child’ and they had indeed been cowering in that dressing room backstage at TOTP all those years ago.

To say that we had a laugh about it is the understatement of the year and I seem to remember him saying “You lot were fucking mad”




P.S Keith plays in the Illegal Eagles 

Live Fast Die Old





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