THE biggest story in the Adver 37 years ago was the biggest story in the world.

“John Lennon is Shot Dead,” blared our front page headline on Tuesday, December 9, 1980.

The story was wire copy which described the killer, later identified as Mark Chapman, as a “…local screwball.”

Inside, our editorial column said of the Beatles: “Fame made them the prisoners of hotel rooms and recording studios and eventually the burden became too much to carry.

“But during the years that they stuck it out, they evolved a distinctive, often satirical, style of words and music drawn from childhood memories, snippets from newspapers, a romantic attachment to women, flirtation with drugs and mysticism, fear of death and madness.

“For the first time since the war, they produced a popular music which was distinctly British. Their image affected the hairstyles and the aspirations of a whole society.

“They did more than anyone to make the sixties swing.”

Other celebrities appearing among our pages were nowhere near as famous as Lennon, but their stories had local connections.

That year’s Wyvern pantomime, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, was in its final rehearsal stages. There was a photo call with its star, Jackie Pallo, who pretended to switch on some festive lights at the theatre using a rig equipped with flash powder.

Pallo’s name will be unfamiliar to many readers, but he was one of the country’s most familiar faces throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and was still a major draw when he appeared in Swindon.

A popular wrestler at a time when millions tuned in to watch the sport on Saturdays, he was nicknamed Mr TV and had a parallel career as an actor and appeared in high-profile shows such as The Avengers.

Another star of the Wyvern pantomime was also familiar to millions.

Music hall veteran Peter Glaze was a long-time member of the cast of Crackerjack, a Friday afternoon children’s variety programme.

He played the dame in the panto, whose cast included another Crackerjack team member, Jan Hunt.

The Wyvern also announced its programme for the new year, which was to include a public lecture, complete with colour slides, by the country’s best-known mountaineer, Chris Bonington.

Desert Island Discs inventor and presenter Roy Plomley spoke at the Swindon Cancer Campaign Ladies’ Luncheon Club and we duly went along to interview him.

He said: “I thought of this idea of interviewing well-known personalities and asking them which gramophone records they’d take with them if they knew they were going to be cast away on an island.

“I decided it must be good for a series of at least six programmes.”

Desert Island Discs had been running for nearly 39 years and continues to this day.

Swindon itself was a star that week, appearing as the setting of a new novel, Spy Game, by London author John McNeil.

A previous work by him, The Consultant, is credited as being one of the first novels about computer crime, and in 1983 it was adapted into one of the first TV drama series about the subject.

The author himself, who died in 2004, was a major figure in the early computer software revolution.

Spy Game saw Swindon as the setting for a tale of espionage about a man sent to work for a company developing virtual war exercises for the Army.

The author said: “There were two reasons for me choosing Swindon. There’s a lot of high technology buildings in the area – with Plessey and others.

“And the Government Communications Headquarters at Cheltenham, which features quite heavily in the book, is on the doorstep.”

Surviving copies of the novel can be found for sale online.

The week also saw us write about a travel club with poignant origins which had thrown open its doors to all.

The Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United States’ Parents’ Association – Canuspa for short – had been established for the loved ones of the countless young British people who emigrated in search of better lives during the years following World War Two.

Swindon’s branch, formed in 1959, had 41 members who travelled all over the world.

Secretary Iris Butler, of Wroughton, said: “When it started, Canuspa was a parents’ association with charter flights enabling people to visit their sons and daughters abroad.

“These days anyone can join and we can book them flights to any part of the world."

Recent trips had seen members sample destinations as diverse as the Great Barrier Reef and the Statue of Liberty.

The 41 Swindon branch members were among about 20,000 across the country.

Canuspa itself was formed in 1946, and although it seems to have faded away as the young emigrants aged and cheap flights proliferated, its badges and other ephemera still occasionally turn up in antique shops and car boot sales.