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The days when even TV commercials were memorable UK News

Hello playmates, how are you and hopefully enjoying the sun? I had my first meal in a pub garden for about 18 months and it was enjoyable although I always avoid crowded places. Notice I’m a bit semi-reclusive these days anyway, compared to my prime. I found my 2000 diary the other day and noted that I was at meetings, tours, etc. for 200 nights that year. With half of this year gone, I haven’t spent a single night going out and I really don’t miss it.

Is it me or has ITV and BBC’s weekend deals turned garbage full of silly shows often with guest judges I’ve never heard of or probably happy one-off names work? If I see another program featuring Bradley Walsh or that guy Rylan, I can kill myself. They are both nice guys and I have the pleasure of meeting them but the overexposure exists. What happened to variety shows like Sunday Night At The London Palladium or quality comedy shows like Morecambe And Wise? I don’t remember a recent quality comedy show like Dad’s Army, “Allo”, Allo! Fawlty Towers or the Vicar of Dibley. Gone are the days when evening church services were canceled and commercials gutted because the BBC was broadcasting a series called Quatermass, even though it was in the 1950s.

Incidentally, Quatermass has a local connection to me as two of the spinoff films were shot in Elstree and Borehamwood. The first was called Quatermass II and was filmed at the infamous Danziger Studios in the village of Elstree. It starred a declining Hollywood star, Brian Donlevy, who was an alcoholic but featured on screen. He used to sneak up to the Plow Inn in Elstree at lunchtime and have coffee on the set with vodka. Director Val Guest told me, “I never had a problem because he knew his lines and hit the mark. Sometimes I just had to remind him what the scene was about.” The supporting cast included Bryan Forbes, William Sylvester, and Vera Day, who have all told me since that was a fun movie to make.

Quatermass And The Pit was filmed at the old MGM studios a decade later, but by then Brian had married Bela Lugosi’s widow and retired. Hammer chose Andrew Keir – who was a very good actor – to play the teacher and did it well but he said, “The director wanted Kenneth More for the role so it was a bit difficult.”

I loved meeting these old actors because they had earned their stripes and had great stories to tell. I hate this era of so-called celebrities who seem to get famous for being famous. I’m not on Twitter because I have a life, but apparently their every word is tracked which luckily for them means they can endorse products etc. and live a life their followers could only dream of, which is sad. I’ve never bought a celebrity-endorsed product since Tony Hancock announced we were going to be working on an egg or the man dived into the sea and found a can of Milk Tray. These ads were memorable. Put a tiger in your aquarium, remember the window to watch or the cigarette as cool as the mountain stream? I still remember the advertising slogan that “it’s so big you have to smile to get it in”. No, ma’am, you’re horrible – it was a chocolate Wagon Wheel.

Until next time, remember: click a snap on every trip and you can’t go wrong if, like my old mate Dave Prowse said, you are following the Green Cross Code.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a writer and historian from Borehamwood of Elstree Studios

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This notice was published: 2021-06-06 17:00:00

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