Wednesday, 5 August 2015

If we only had Time....

I love a good old Rockumentary on BBC4.

An hour or so of wizenened or bottoxed old heads from the 60's, 70's or 80's reminiscing about the way Albums were developed and recorded is bliss to me, particularly if there are a few "blimey I thought he died 20 years ago" moments. They always wear ludicrously inappropriate headgear to conceal their expanded foreheads as they reveal the petty squabbles and jealousies which drove them as twenty three year olds. The most appealing thing to me is always the random links where timelines cross over and you suddenly see, for example, a clip of Herman's Hermit Peter Noone singing "Henery The Eighth" with the cool college band "The Lovin' Spoonful".

One subject that has not yet been covered but would make a terrific programme is the story of Time. It is packed full of seemingly random juxtapositions and crossovers.

April 1986, almost a year after Live Aid, saw the London premier of "Time" the Musical, the story of a Mr Chris Wilder who is transported (with his backup singers and band ) from a concert to the High Court of the Universe in Andromeda Galaxy. It was written by 1960's London drummer-turned-entrepreneur Dave Clark:

And who was to be cast in the lead role of this multi-media extravaganza? Why step forward Mr Harry Rodger Webb, otherwise know as heartthrob pop pixie and Mike Read loookalike Cliff Richard.

This amazingly overblown production with spectacular lighting sets by John Napier and a giant hologram opened at the Dominion Theatre in London to mixed reviews. My favourite is from the New York Times:

"If present trends go on, John Napier and his team will doubtless one day find themselves re-creating the entire state of Iowa for a rock musical about the Little Red Hen, or reconstructing the Alps for one about Heidi; but until then Time can claim it has provided the most sensational contrast between mountainous spectacle and molehill content the musical theatergoer has seen."

Cliff was later replaced by US Teenage hero David Cassidy but he released one of the songs from Time as a single. "She's So Beautiful" only got to number 17 in the UK Charts in 1985 but that may have been because the video had been banned by the BBC. This must be the first time the words "Cliff Richard" and "banned" have appeared in the same sentence (apart from, of course, in my house).

I'm indebted to my brother for unearthing this banned video which was directed by the shock-meister himself Mr Ken Russell. No that isn't a typo - Ken Russell made the video of this saccharine and insipid throwaway pop tune and it was banned by the BBC. In an interview with Garageland Ken himself explains why:

"He was also supposed to direct Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday, an unlikely Russell film. ‘I withdrew because I couldn’t get on with the composers. I did end up working with Cliff Richard though, I made a video for him but it got banned by the BBC.’ Why? ‘Because I showed children playing with fire. You are not allowed to do that on the Bee…Bee…Cee’.   "

This is the video - you must watch it all the way through to get the sheer banality and stupidity of giving Ken Russell free reign and a budget of what must have been about fifty quid. Heaven knows what "Summer Holiday" would have looked like. Judge for yourselves:

Cliff went on the next year to score his first number one for a few years with a reprise of "The Young Ones" sung with, er, The Young Ones Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson and Nigel Planer.

Who's playing with fire? Who's doing Time? Perhaps we'll never know until BBC4 commissions the story for us to enjoy.


Pat said...

The dubbing's appalling but nice shots of the Lake District - I think.

Tim said...

Ken has made even worse films, but this is magnificent. Thank you so much for sharing. (Even better watched with the sound muted, I think.)

Z said...

I'm lost for words.

Rog said...

Pat: What a positive soul you are!

Tim: I thought the sound added a surreal element to the non-reality!

Z: Well that makes a change ;-)

Z said...