SHE made television history bringing sass to Top of the Pops in risqué dance routines with Pan’s People. And nearly 40 years on, Dee Dee Wilde is still dancing. She tells MARION SAUVEBOIS why she can’t turn her back on her destiny.

DEE Dee Wilde’s fate as one of the most recognisable dancers on television was etched in the stars.

At the age of 17, her mother consulted a fortune teller who predicted she would bear twins, one of whom would ‘be on the stage’.

As foretold she gave birth to a boy, Stuart, who would become a prominent New Age author and guru, and a girl named after the Italian actress Alida Valli in light of the psychic’s revelations.

By the age of three, Alida, the woman we all know as Dee Dee, was already fulfilling the prophesy proclaiming to anyone within earshot her ambition to become a dancer.

“I was destined to dance,” she says matter-of-factly. “From the moment I started walking I walked on my tip toes and told the world I would become a ballerina.”

When her father, a former commander in the Royal Navy was appointed harbour master in West Africa she was enrolled in Elmhurst Ballet School, a boarding school where she received a comprehensive classical training.

After further modern dance tuition in London, she fetched a job at the swanky Biba store. It is while riding the bus to work that she spotted an advertisement in The Stage to join the Beat Girls of the BBC2 programme The Beat Room. She feigned an emergency dentist appointment and sneaked off to the audition. Three hours later the 19-year-old was handpicked out of 300 hopefuls to become the newest member of the troupe.

When the group parted ways in 1966, Dee Dee and fellow dancers Babs Lord and Flick Colby formed Pan’s People in the early hours of the morning. Copious amounts of wine were involved, she recalls.

“Babs said ‘Pan is the god of music, dance and fertility and he had six handmaidens, why don’t we call ourselves Pan’s People?’ It was December 8, 1966 and we started Pan’s People. Of course from then on people thought we had something to do with Pete Pan,” adds the 68-year-old with a laugh.

Ruth Pearson soon joined the group, which grew as a sextet. After appearances in Belgium and the Netherlands, Ruth and Dee Dee were spotted at an audition to replace two of the Go-Jos, the Top of the Pops’ original dancers.

When producer Colin Charman strolled in during rehearsals, the girls proceeded to ‘butter him up’ pleading with him to give Pan’s People a chance. Sure enough, three weeks later he booked Ruth, Dee Dee and Flick. Eventually all six members of Pan’s People earned regular slots on Top of the Pops. In 1969 they were contracted as the show’s official dance troupe.

“We knew we had finally arrived as a group,” she says excitedly.

“Flick was from America and she had all the up-to-date dance moves. She was sassy, raunchy and sexy. We got an enormous fan base. We went on to become household names. Top of the Pops was watched by 21 million people.”

While Dee Dee insists the group was a democracy Flick was solely in charge of choreography and her word was law.

“When it came to choreography she was the chief. And we did it whether we liked it or not,” she says.

Over the next eight years they gyrated seductively in itsy bitsy hot pants and spangly tops to some of the most iconic music anthems, rubbing shoulders with such superstars as Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones and, quite unexpectedly, Jimi Hendrix.

“Because an awful lot of American artists couldn’t come over we used to dance to their songs,” says the mother-of-two.

“Once, we were at Riverside Studios rehearsing to Jimi Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower when Hendrix burst through the doors. He jumped on the podium, made a B-line for me, made a sweeping bow and kissed my hand.

"He wasn’t going to be on the show, we weren’t supposed to meet him but he had heard we were doing it for Top of the Pops so he came to say hello. I didn’t wash my hand for weeks. He was very charming.”

Location filming saw her strut around in the most bizarre of places including a quarry dressed as a mummy. She was also “plonked at the top of a stone in Stonehenge” and asked to fall backwards during a particularly perilous stunt.

Top of the Pops host Jimmy Savile’s lewd behaviour and altogether sleazy demeanour was a concern. But to Dee Dee’s relief, some inappropriate hand-kissing aside, it soon became apparent that she and her fellow dancers were much too mature to illicit any interest from the paedophile. The Savile scandal however shattering came as no huge surprise.

“I never felt comfortable with him,” she admits without missing a beat.

“He was in your face and slimy but he was an enormous star. You just had to get on with it and be professional. He would sidle up to you, go to kiss your hand and sort of lick it. He had this enormous van parked at the front of the BBC and he used to invite these little girls in there quite blatantly. There was a big bed at the back of the van.

“I was not surprise when the scandal broke. It was obvious he was taking underage girls into his van. He liked very young girls.”

After eight years on Top of the Pops, Dee Dee went on to choreograph the Benny Hill Show. She also opened her own studio Dance Attic. To this day the venue is one of the largest of its kind in London and welcomes a host of celebrities.

Dee Dee moved to Rood Ashton, near Trowbridge, in 2002 to be with her partner Henry Marsh. The pair first met in the 1970s when Henry’s band Sailor performed on Top of the Pops and crossed paths once more two decades later.

They married in 2011 with Robert Powell, Babs’ husband, and Jeremy Irons, an old friend of Henry’s in attendance.

“I am the only person who can say she had Jesus and the Pope at her wedding,” she quips.

Not content to stand still, Dee Dee launched a dance club in 2009 in a bid to keep women of a certain age fit through the medium of dance. Of course many of her routines revisit Pan’s People’s most daring (for the times) moves. “I’ve always danced – it’s my life. Dance is good for the body is uplifting for the soul. I just wanted to teach like-minded women of a certain age how to dance and stay fit.”

Dee Dee has since formed Pan’s Fans with a select group of students and the troupe has made the rounds of music festivals. They also appeared on Comic Relief alongside Dermot O’Leary earlier this year.

This summer they will perform at Camp Bestival. Dee Dee is also due to teach in the Dolomites in September.

“I will stop when I have to hop around and I can’t do it anymore,” she says with a giggle. “I am not as supple and lithe but I still have all the moves. I don’t feel my age.”

There is certainly no question of easing up until she finally fulfils her ambition of meeting her idols, Ant and Dec.

“I adore I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. The first time Ant and Dec did Saturday Night Takeaway they asked Pan’s People to come on. I was so excited to meet them but the girls didn’t want to do it. They are so talented and so funny. Maybe, one day.”

To sign up to Dee Dee’s classes or for more information visit, email or call 01380 870489.