Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Starstruck: Episode 4 of Here Come The Double Deckers

Before I start: A reminder to friends in the Bristol area that Billie and Tiger are appearing tomorrow at the Watershed, 1 Canon’s Road, Harbourside at 11.15 am.

Episode 4: Starstruck (variously also referred to as Star-Struck and Star Struck)
First shown: 3 October 1970 (US), 21 January 1971 (UK)
Director: Harry Booth
Writers: Harry Booth and Glyn Jones
Appearing apart from the Double Deckers:
David Lodge as 1st Security Man
Hugh Walters as 2nd Security Man
Liz Fraser as Zizi Bagor
Bob Todd, Michael Fleming, Alec Bregonzi, Alan Rebbeck, Douglas Ridley as assorted film crew


Seeking autographs at a film studio, the gang go in pursuit of a glamorous film star's lost dog, and get involved in, successively, a war film, a sea epic, a horror movie, an oriental fable, and a stage show for cute kids. The dog is found and cake is eaten; all ends well except for the humiliated security guards.


A rather impressive dance number based on the Nutcracker ballet, with the Italia Conti Dance School interacting with the Double Deckers.

Glorious moments

This is sheer farce, but also sheer joy to watch. Particular highlights are the quick-setting plaster gag - so good they use it twice - the tumbling war film director, Tiger in the upturned box, and the gang pretending to be dwarves.

Less glorious moments

We never quite understand why the film star Zizi Bagor is supposed to be famous, or why a bunch of strange children chasing a small dog is likely to bring it back to its owner. The final chase scene through the oriental city set maybe goes on a bit.

What's all this then?

This is an excuse to have a decent slapstick caper in a conveniently located studio. The two significant genres of film that are omitted are Westerns - covered in the previous episode - and science fiction - yet to come.

The Highlanders piping their way doggedly into the trenches is presumably a reference to some well-known war film which I have not identified, or possibly to the BBC's 26-part 1964 documetary series The Great War. (Though it may also be a partial reference to the Scottish regiment of the very recent [1968] Carry On Up the Khyber.)

The seafaring scene is pretty obviously a reference to the 1956 Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck, directed by John Huston and written by John Huston and Ray Bradbury.

The horror movie's title is "Dracula and the Mummy Meet Frankenstein", but none of those are suitable for Saturday morning children's TV so all we get is an opening grave. Also, we have ghostly stuff coming up next week.

The gang whistle, carry spades and wear beards in imitation of the Seven Dwarves from the 1937 Disney cartoon. However, they whistle the theme tune to their own show.

The oriental setting could be a reference to the classic 1924 The Thief of Baghdad, the 1955 Kismet, or something else I haven't identified.

The Nutcracker-style dance was a staple of TV Christmas shows of the time; the only surprising thing is that this was shown in October/January.

Zizi Bagor is an obvious reference to the glamorous film star Zsa Zsa Gabor, who will celebrate her 99th birthday next month.

Where's that?

Well, if you are filming a TV series in a film studio, you don't have to go too far to find a location for an episode about running around a film studio, do you? Almost all of this is filmed in Elstree Studios, with a couple of shots of the gang chasing the dog along a canal bank in Borehamwood.

Who's that?

David Lodge (First Security Man, not the novelist of the same name) had a lot of roles playing grumpy men in uniform, be it army, police, navy or (as here) private sector. He was also associated with the Goons before they were the Goons, and was particularly close to Peter Sellers, whose best man he was at Sellers' wedding to Britt Ekland. You will see him here in the 1975 Return of the Pink Panther with Sellers and Catherine Schell, of Space 1999 and also the Countess Scarlioni in teh Doctor Who story City of Death. He was born in 1921 and died in 2003.

Hugh Walters (Second Security Man) appeared three times in three decades in Doctor Who. In 1985 he played Vogel in Revelation of the Daleks, and is killed in the middle of the second episode; in 1976 he played Runcible in The Deadly Assassin, and is killed in the middle of the second episode; in 1965 he played William Shakespeare in The Chase, and is only in the first episode. He had also played Smike in a 1968 televised Nicholas Nickleby, but had since shifted towards comedy. He was born in 1939 and died only last year.

Liz Fraser (Zizi Bagor) was just getting back into acting after a couple of years off. She had been a major star ten years before, rather often as a dumb blonde, again with Peter Sellers (in I'm All Right Jack and Two Way Stretch and in four Carry On films, three of them in the 1960s. She seems to have last worked in 2007 but as she is now 85 that is hardly surprising.

See you next week...

...for Happy Haunting.
Tags: tv: double deckers

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