Crooners Des O'Connor, Val Doonican and Max Bygraves are a waste of space - officially. The veteran variety stars, who have been the butt of jokes by everyone from Morecambe and Wise to the Comedy Store Players, have finally been shown the exit by Britain's leading "yoof" record chain.
Virgin Megastores is to remove from its shelves 1,000 mature or defunct artists to make more room for top-selling chart acts such as the Sugababes and Coldplay.
The move will come as a blow to those who remember with affection such timeless gems as Bygraves's "I'm a Pink Toothbrush, You're a Blue Toothbrush", or O'Connor classics such as "Dick-a-Dum-Dum" and "Thin Chow Min". Also on the deletion list is George Formby, the chirpy northerner who did for the ukelele what Kylie Minogue has done for micro hotpants.
In a confidential memo leaked to The Independent on Sunday, Steve Kincaid, Virgin's commercial director, has informed his staff: "Currently we're compiling a new deletions list based on artists who just don't sell at megastores because frankly we don't want them taking up space that could be given over to someone more deserving, ie credible.
"However, this list does include some household names like Des O'Connor, Max Bygraves, George Formby and Richard Clayderman, for example."
A Virgin spokesman confirmed that the planned deletions extend to 1,000 artists in all, from novelty acts such as Black Lace, authors of kitsch 1980s party anthem "Agadoo", to little-known singer Andrew Gold, best known for a 1987 collaboration with former members of 10CC.
"Most of them you will never have heard of," he said. "We currently have about eight Des O'Connor albums, four of which we stock, and they haven't sold for years. It doesn't mean that Des doesn't sell - just that people don't come to Virgin to buy his records."
"De-stocking" would start at Virgin's flagship Oxford Street, London, megastore, currently in the midst of a multimillion-pound refurbishment, creating space for 35,000 new titles.
O'Connor said last night: "I'm very surprised. Richard Branson buys all my records."
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