Written by Jimmy Perry and featuring a top cast (Bill Fraser, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellars, Ronnie Barker, Warren Mitchell etc)
It sounds like it would have been brilliant. I guess it's a comedy drama?
Jimmy Perry has always been obsessed with music hall performers and I find it fascinating how often he has used it in his writing for TV. There is this show, all about a night at the music hall; he did the excellent documentary series 'Turns' about music hall and variety performers; he recreated a Max Miller style character as Charlie Cheeseman in Dad's Army's 'Shooting Pains'; there was the series he helped write called 'The Old Boy Network' in which legendary variety players and actors talked about their lives, and of course the first episode of 'You Rang M'Lord' begins with Alf and Ivy Stokes treading the boards.
Has Wilton's ever been released? Does it still exist?
Post by Andy Howells on Aug 26, 2008 7:19:19 GMT 12
From what I know it is something done in the style of The Good Old Days with each star coming on doing a piece, whether or not it still exists I'm not sure - that could be a question for Missing Episodes forum - though I seem certain I might have seen a clip from it at some point, I do have the Radio Times in question with the billing (and photo) and I'd certainly love to see it in its entirety. Its certainly quite a line-up too and I imagine a bit of a coup getting Peter Sellers on board for it.
The Old Boy Network still survives and there was talk a few years back that it was going to return but I think that idea died a death in the hands of a TV executive...
Post by Dave Homewood on Aug 26, 2008 12:56:55 GMT 12
Jimmy Perry also tried to get Turns to return to TV in the late 1990's but the TV executives were keen only if they could have a 20-something yoof presenter, and Jimmy pulled the plug on it.
I did a bit more research after posting the above and found Wilton's Music Hall was a real place and some of the characters based on real people, so it was recreating a real night of entertainment in 1860, and they used the real hall itself, with part of the show's production budget restoring the hall from derelict. I'd love to see it someday.
So this was a one-off, right? Not a series? I've never seen so much as a clip from it.
And what about this Gnomes of Dulwich listed in Jimmy's writing credits even earlier than Wilton's? Anybody seen that, and was it good? Judging from the one user comment on IMDb, it was about garden gnomes come alive and was heavy on political satire, yet simple enough for even young children to enjoy. So this one was a series ... another series Jimmy was writing during the same time period he was doing DA, evidently?
I'd also be curious to see his apparently short-lived later series Room Service and High Street Blues. I see they used Frank Williams in the Room Service cast.
"Wiltons - The Handsomest Hall In Town "BBC, solo writing project, a one-off 45 minute stand-up style comedy tribute to the famous Wilton's Music Hall, starring Bill Fraser, Spike Milligan, Warren Mitchell, Peter Sellers and Ronnie Barker, among others. Broadcast 26 Dec 1970 on BBC2"
Last Edit: Feb 25, 2009 6:03:33 GMT 12 by straycat
I have a VHS of Wilton's somewhere. I loaned it off Jimmy. But my VHS tapes are badly labelled so it could be on any one of many in my cellar !!! It is basically a variety show with some linking dialogue by a chairman. Very much re-creating how it might have been in the heyday of Victorian music hall. Great fun and of course a labour of love for Jimmy who is an authority on the great days of variety theatre.
THE HI-DE-HI COMPANION by Rob Cope & Mike Fury (featuring You Rang, M'Lord ?) Published November 2009. See www.hi-de-hi.net for details
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 23, 2009 10:13:07 GMT 12
Cheers Rob. Interesting, it sounds a bit like that series 'The Good Old Days' which ran along the same lines, only with more well known performers in Wiltons. I loved the episodes of Jimmy's show 'Turns' that I've seen, and so I reckon Wiltons must be very enjoyable.
There was a clip from "Wiltons" in the "Comedy Connections" programme about Hi-De-Hi which first aired on BBC1 a few years ago - GOLD are about to repeat the series again soon, there are also shows about Dad's Army, Are you Being Served ?, It Aint Half Hot Mum & 'Allo 'Allo in the Comedy Connections series so Croft & Perry are represented.
Wiltons featured on Ian Hislop's enjoyable look at Victorian Do-Gooders and social reformers the other night, sadly it looked pretty derelict.
Ian H. recounted the tale of one of the Charrington family of the brewing dynasty who tried in the 1880's to have music halls closed down, linking them with drunkeness and bad behaviour. Needless to say he didn't get very far.
Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan filmed The Great McGonagall at Wilton's in 1974.
I remember the uproar when the Chiswick Empire was sold by Stolls and demolished a few weeks later in 1959, it had been doing great business & was a beautiful theatre, luckily things like that can't just happen nowadays.