Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Winter has finally hit the land, with the view from Poptique Towers being one of snow, wind and unhappy faces trudging their way to work. Tempted as I am to start snowballing passers by (not any sort of euphemism, I might add) let me instead take you on a trip to sunny Cyprus circa 1972…

Sticking a celebrity in your commercial is certainly no recent fad, and to supplement his income Peter Sellers appeared in a quite a few – in fact a handful can be found on this highly recommended DVD. With a character as eccentric as Sellers there must assuredly be interesting stories attached to most of them, but I deem it unlikely that many are as convoluted as this one.

Back in the 70s, before cigarette advertising was banned outright in the UK, Benson & Hedges generously provided a series of stylishly wry commercials featuring such noted comedians as Terry Thomas and Eric Sykes. This particular entry was produced one Sunday in ‘72, squeezed into the schedule of a doomed pirate comedy called the Ghost of the Noonday Sun, and helmed by the same director, Peter Medak.

Said film would be left unreleased until it snuck out onto VHS 15 years later, and was reportedly a nightmare to produce, with Sellers on particularly bad behaviour. A juicy example found him holding up shooting for five days because he decided a vase in his Swiss home (some 1600miles away) might be facing the in the wrong direction.

The production of the commercial was no walk in the park either. When Medak came to shoot the money-shot of a golden pack of B&H glistening in the Mediterranean sun, unexpected issues arose. "Daddy" exclaimed Sellers "didn’t anyone tell you I can’t touch a cigarette packet? I simply can’t".

The reason for this: the erstwhile star of I'm Alright Jack was claimed to be the chairman of the Anti-Smokers League, contractually obliged to avoid ciggies like the plague. Likewise fellow-Goon Spike Milligan, his co-star in the ad and the aforementioned motion picture, was supposedly deputy chairman of the selfsame group. This left Medak in somewhat of a pickle, until holidaying friendJames Villiers stepped into the fray to earn enough from his appearance to pay off his bar tab.

What the chairman of an anti-smoking league was doing accepting nearly £40,000 (about £180,000 today) to flog fags to the public at large, whilst also (allegedly) engaging in excessive amounts of marijuana off screen is quite another matter...

Note - the original vid for this post was housed at my old, late, lamented Poptique channel on Youtube - and after an earful from Philip Morris it was duly deleted, and my account with it! Booooo! Thankfully YanickTheJoker bunged a new version online this version, aswell as three commercials Sellers made just before he left us, for Barclays Bank.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

POPTIQUE HITS 50 (in a green & slimy fashion...)

How do - Poptique here.

Well, it's post #50 at the Plog - but with me insanely busy on the top-secret Project-Poptique there's no time to celebrate! :(

Rather than typing up more ill-informed insanity for your delectation I'd like to point you in the direction of 55bells - not one, but two generous chaps who've been posting a bunch of wild rarities these past few months. In particular they've whapped up a fullscreen print of Kinji Fukasaku's Green Slime, a wild 60s sci-fi that may come as a surprise to fans of Fukasaku-San's violent world of Yakuzas and homicidal schoolgirls.

Please do keep your eyes peeled this way though, for updates and info on what's going down in regards to Poptique's unfathomable undertaking!!

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Due to my inbuilt mixture of heady enthusiasm and headless lethargy I nearly always take perverse enjoyment in discovering someone else has beaten me to the punch. It reiterates my opinions without me having to extol them in the first place. Take for example the latest article from the peerless Greenbriar Picture Show Blog.

I'm a huge fan of AIP's Beach Party series, but the massive chasm between the innocent (albeit often off -the-wall) tomfoolery of Annette, Frankie and the gang and drugged up anarchy of late 60s releases from the same studio never fails to knock me for six.

Sobering to think that all that separates this:

from this:

is just over three months. But that's the 60s for you.

Read all about it here - from an always-eloquent gentleman who witnessed this seismic shift first hand.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

...and a Happy New Year (from Poptique).

Bleary eyed and still slighlty groggy, may I be amoung the last to wish you Happy New Year and all the best for 2007!!

It's no problem to still party like I'm 21, but these days I recover like I'm 81. However, from what I can recall my New Years Eve, whilst being a barrel boozy of laughs, didn't quite reach the glorious heights of this particular soirée...

Of course it's the ubiquitous Helen in yet another classic cabaret act. Baithe Hain Kya Usike Paas comes from Dev Anad's 1967 crime caper Jewel Thief - a film well worth seeking out for it's gorgeous visuals, outlandish plot and stellar score from SD and RD Burman (their funky, twangy guitar theme subsequently appropriated by the Brighton based chaps at Mondo Macabro for their seminal series). If you liked what you saw in the clip above I highly recommend picking up the DVD and seeing what Helen gets up to next! It's a beaut.