Episode 3: Get A Movie On
First shown: 26 September 1970 (US), 15 January 1971 (UK)
Director: Harry Booth
Writers: Harry Booth and Melvyn Hayes
Appearing apart from the Double Deckers:
Melvyn Hayes as Albert the Street Cleaner
Norman Vaughan as the TV Compere
The gang decide to enter a film-making competition, using Doughnut's new camera, with Scooper directing, Doughnut starring and Albert as the stunt man in a Western. Brains screws up the editing process and it looks disastrous when it is shown. But they are given a consolation prize for being funny.
"Good Day at Yellowrock", by Ivor Slaney and Michael Begg, performed by the main cast.
Three episodes in and we get the first song of the series, a good-humoured dance number which is supposed to be part of the Western. Later songs shift gradually to being Billie and her backing singers, but here she takes roughly equal credit with Spring and Scopper, with the others not far behind.
I don't have a lot to say about this one because it's just fun to watch.
Three episodes in and we get the first song of the series, a good-humoured dance number which is supposed to be part of the Western that the gang are making. Later songs shift gradually to being Billie and her backing singers, but here she takes roughly equal credit with Spring and Scooper, with the others not far behind.
Again there are some well done slapstick scenes, and one's sympathy for Melvyn Hayes as Albert should be tempered with the realisation that he actually co-wrote the script.
The badly edited final cut of the film is also rather glorious, and the kids' expressions are approriately mortified. NB that after two episodes where Brains has managed pretty spectacular inventions, the editing screw-up here is very definitely all his fault and nobody else's.
Less glorious moments
Sticks rather blatantly converts £5,000 to $12,000 dollars in his head, for the benefit of the American audience. (That is a pretty large prize for a children's amateur contest; one online inflation calculators gives £5,000 in 1970 as equal to £74,000 today, and another intriguingly gives $12,000 as equal to $74,000 today. Either way it's a lot.)
What's all this then?
Not for the last time, we get a show-within-a-show, which (as with the Ring of Gyges) goes back at least to Plato. If you've got kids who are actually attending stage school, then getting them to do a performance about performing is a fairly obvious thing to do - see basically every single episode of Fame! (and its more recent cousins).
It's odd to look back at the 1960s now and realise just how ubiquitous Westerns were. Three of the top 20 Westerns of all time in this list came out in 1969 alone (The Wild Bunch, True Grit and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid); the decade started with The Magnificent Seven and also included the Dollars Trilogy, Cat Ballou and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Perhaps more importantly, Rawhide and Gunsmoke had both been extraordinarily successful on both British and American TV. So it was an easy and familiar set of tropes to hang a story on. (NB that even Doctor Who did a Western story - a musical no less - in 1966.)
Doughnut's request for milk at the bar is a clear reference to the Milky Bar Kid, who'd been around since 1961. I'm not a big expert on Westerns; I'm someone more familiar with the genre than me would have a lot of fun spotting the references here.
The compere is addressed as "Mr Andrews", if my ears do not deceive me. Is Eamonn Andrews intended?
All filmed in studio.
Here Come The Double Deckers was the peak of the acting career of Michael Audreson, who plays Brains. He was one of two survivors from the first two series of The Magnificant Six and a Half, a set of cinema short films which were made by much the same crew as Double Deckers. He had a handful more TV appearances in the 1970s, inclduing in two 1978 episodes of The Tomorrow People. Since then he has been mainly running a medical foundation, but has made a couple of films as director and writer.
Norman Vaughan (the compere) had made his name as compere of Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the early 1960s, and had also had his own TV show, so he was an obvious choice for this role. He went on to invent the darts/quiz game show Bullseye, and died aged 79 in 2002. During the second world war he appeared in army shows with Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, who went on to the Goon Show.
See you next week...