Sunday, 3 June 2018

LeadLog: Mystery Bob Grant clip on BBC Christmas Tape 1978

This is about a mystery clip found on the 1978 BBC Christmas Tape.

Christmas Tapes were unofficial in-house productions made by the BBC's VT department featuring outtakes and out-of-context mickey-taking clips.  Some of them featured new links provided by BBC stars of the day.

Wikipedia has an article about them at

The 1978 BBC Christmas Tape is available in full on
Length: 42m56s / File Size 686MB [704x528]

The 1978 tape was the first one made.  It is named the "White Powder Xmas" and has specially filmed links by newsreader Kenneth Kendall and actor Michael Crawford (in character as Frank Spencer).

At around the 25:15 mark there is a package of short clips which includes one that is a bit of a mystery.

The sequence begins with Kenny Everett in a radio studio, then (after a bit of Esther Rantzen laughing) there is a moment of a topless girl playing badminton, (then a bit from a Spike Milligan show), then a topless girl using a chest expander being watched by a man, then four girls standing around the same man tickling him - unfortunately they are extremely brief moments and do not have original sound on them. 
NOTE: The Spike Milligan snippet is from the prison camp sketch that appeared in Q6, episode 1 (Tx: 06/Nov/1975) of an uncredited (and still unknown) topless girl walking across the shot - although a mystery in its own right as to who she is, it is unrelated to the one under discussion here.


The man that the four girls are ticking is quite clearly Bob Grant, the actor who is most associated with playing Jack the conductor in the ITV sitcom On The Buses from 1969 to 1973.  He is also the man watching the girl using the chest expander.  He is not seen with the badminton girl, but she and the chest expander girl are two of the four seen tickling him so that links all three clip snippets together as being from the same thing.

However these sequences do not come from anything that is known about.  There are no films of the period that featured Bob Grant in such a scene and he is not credited in any "lost" films that have never been seen.  Similarly for TV shows there is nothing likely on his credits that it could come from.  Clearly it must be something from 1978 or earlier to appear on this particular Christmas tape.  It is perhaps possible it was footage from one of the stage shows he did during the 1970s.  Maybe the BBC filmed some footage for use in a documentary feature although what that might have been for and whether it was ever used on air remains unknown.

An On The Buses fan site lists the theatre productions he appeared in some of which would seem to have had the potential to be saucy.
Extract from
1975 ONE FOR THE POT (Whitehall farce)
1976 PYJAMA TOPS (New Theatre Hull)

Darling Mr London actually sounds a plausible prospect.   It was a farce co-written by Bob Grant himself along with Anthony Marriot.  It was first performed in March 1975 with David Jason in the lead role of Edward Hawkins. Bob Grant also appeared as Edward's lodger Mark Thomson.

Here is a synopsis from a more recent production of the play:- "Darling Mr London takes place in a time well before mobile phones and automatic international telephone dialling.  Mild mannered Edward works in an international telephone exchange, but isn't shy about chatting up female operators from other countries.  These affairs by proxy blow up in his face when 4 glamorous continental operators travel to London to take part in a Miss Eurphone Contest.  Unaware of each other, they visit Edwards flat, determined to make his acquaintance in the flesh (as it were). Hilarious situations occur as Edward strives to conceal his 'peccadillo's' from his wife, his appalling Mother in law, and his Curate, lodger."

The detail which resonated on the above was the fact that it specifies "four glamorous continental operators" were involved which could tally with the four seen in the clip. 

This is a programme for the 1975 run from scans found online.  If the mystery is from Darling Mr London then it is probably not from this specific production. 
The four female cast are listed (Valerie Leon, Janet Edis, Leena Skoog, Veronica Barbieri), three of whom are known and do not seem to be the actresses seen in the clip.  And certainly none of them are Valerie Leon who is very well known.

So maybe it comes from a different run or something specially staged for the BBC.  Or maybe the appearance of four girls is coincidental and it's from something else entirely.

If anyone knows more let me know and I'll update this entry.

Also of interest on the same 1978 BBC Christmas tape
Another clip of special interest on this particular Christmas tape is an outtake from the three-part BBC2 serial The Girls of Slender Means (Tx: 3-17 May 1975) based on a book by Muriel Spark.  The outtake, which appears at around 26:44, features Mary Tamm fully nude in a dark bedroom walking over to the bed.  Neither she nor the production are identified on the tape, but it is known to be her from this serial and the dressing of the set matches that seen in the broadcast version (in which she only appears topless).   The serial itself has never had any modern repeats or commercial video/DVD releases or turned up in any form although it does still exist in the BBC archives.

Other (non-nudity) outtakes of enduring interest seen on the tape include some from The Two Ronnies, The Goodies, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Blake's 7, and a number from Doctor Who featuring Tom Baker with Lalla Ward and Mary Tamm scattered throughout including a very funny bespoke interchange between Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and K9 which closes out the tape.

1 comment:

  1. Also of interest surely must be the end credit sequence featuring a topless routine from (I presume) Legs & Co., which would never have appeared on TOTP.