In 1969 Marty Feldman was quite successful, in the second year of his own hit skit comedy show, so BBC gave him an hour of prime time television for a reality-based show. The result was One Pair of Eyes, a personal look at comedy and writing, with guests including Barry Took, Peter Sellers, and Dudley Moore. In 2011, almost 30 years after Feldman's death, BBC looked back at the forgotten legend and "missing link" between the golden age of BBC Radio comedy, the hothouse of 1960s television comedy, and finally Hollywood in the documentary Marty Feldman: Six Degrees of Separation. For more, there's The Official Marty Feldman (fan)site, which has a ton of great content, and has been posting television clips and movies from Marty's career on Vimeo for almost a year. [more inside]
Electric & Musical Industries was formed in 1931, initially releasing classical music, but went on to launch the Beatles, who changed the record label's operations and funded the company for years and years. The label's recording rules were further broadened by Queen and Pink Floyd. EMI ushered punk into the mainstream with Sex Pistols, and then embraced the New Romanticism and the polished excesses of Duran Duran. They made music videos big with Pet Shop Boys and made Brit Pop a thing with Blur, and were home to Radiohead. This is the inside story of EMI, one of the greatest British brands in recording history, as told by people involved with the record label's storied history, augmented by company and performance footage. [more inside]
The BBC after the bomb. The BBC's War Book contains meticulous plans for the organisation's operations after a nuclear attack on the UK. Ordered to be destroyed after the end of the Soviet Union, a rebellious BBC official quietly transferred it to the corporation's archives. Filled with the sort of mordantly amusing detail common to such documents - the BBC would be run by Radio 4, 'informal clothing' only being required, and an abandoned plan to entertain the nation with Round the Horne and Goon Show repeats - the plans help flesh out the way British bureaucracy faced up to an unknowable future that, at the time, seemed sometimes to be very close indeed. Previously.
Sponsored by Xerox and the United Nations, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, scripted by Rod Serling, scored by Henry Mancini, starring Sterling Hayden, Eva Marie Saint, and Robert Shaw, and featuring Peter Sellers as a post-apocalyptic pseudo-Randian cult leader in a spangly hat—it's A Carol for Another Christmas, the rare 1964 television special in which three ghosts teach a melancholy industrialist a Christmas lesson about the virtues of multilateral peacekeeping!
Will The Real Mr Sellers Please Stand Up - a rare ~50min film narrated by Spike Milligan and made during the filming of 'The Magic Christian'*via Cinephilia and Beyond. [NSFW - some nudity] [more inside]
Peter Sellers, best known for The Goons, Inspector Clouseau and Doctor Strangelove, also recorded sketches in the 1950s in which he supplied all of the voices. Probably best known is his spoof of the 1950s travelogue, the ode to South London's finest neighbourhood - Balham, Gateway to the South, but the rest is also worth a listen. [more inside]
Peter Sellers enjoyed doing spoken word covers of songs by The Beatles as performed by different characters. These included “A Hard Day’s Night” done as Laurence Olivier’s Richard III, and “She Loves You” as an Irishman (mildly NSFW), a cockney, an upper class British twit, a possibly particular German, and most wonderfully; Dr Strangelove. [via]
Here is, um, something. Something silly, from the Goons. Here it is again. And here it is from the Muppets. And here it is in a bookstore at a signing by one of the Goons. More nonsense. And more. (← my favorite) And yet more. Okay, just one more. [more inside]
The Goon Show was a highly popular and immensely influential radio show on the BBC in the 1950s featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan. They would sometimes do live readings of episodes, here's a video recording of The Whistling Spy Enigma (parts 1, 2, 3) and a much later recording of Tales of Men's Shirts (parts 1, 2, 3). The first features Ray Ellington, musical director of the Goon Show, and the second John Cleese, who, like his fellow Pythons, was a huge fan of The Goon Show growing up. In the 50s BBC turned The Goon Show into a TV show with puppets, called Telegoons. A number of shows exist online: The Lurgi Strikes Britain (1, 2), The Nadger Plague (1, 2), Captain Seagoon RN (1, 2), Tales of Montmartre (1, 2), The First Albert Memorial to the Moon (1, 2), The Hastings Flyer (1, 2), The Affair of the Lone Banana (1, 2), The Africa Ship Canal (1, 2), The Booted Gorilla (1, 2), The Ascent of Mount Everest (1, 2), The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill on Sea (1, 2), Fort Knight (1, 2), The Terrible Revenge of Fred Fu Manchu (1, 2), The Lost Colony (1, 2) and, finally, back where we first began, the Telegoons version of The Whistling Spy Enigma (1, 2).
The Goon Show was a popular and influential radio comedy produced by the BBC from 1951 - 1960, starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. Here, you can listen to it whenever you like. [more inside]
A preachment dear friends, you're about to receive, on John Barleycorn, nicotine, and the temptations of Eve, from the Good Reverend Peter Sellers and his Muppet friends.
Harry Secombe passes at 79. I just saw the Peter Sellers bio on American Movie Classics the other day, and found out how important The Goon Show was in the history of comedy. A Hard Day's Night and Monty Python had their roots in this groundbreaking British radio show that ran from 1949-1960.