Tuesday, 1 April 2014

George Formby & The North-South Divide


Aside from racists, homophobes, those who harm animals, and those who mock the afflicted--whose only true good deeds take place when they leave this world--I have never been prejudiced against anyone. If they're more successful or wealthier than me, so what? I envy no one.

My team and I are re-working the George Formby book. For years I've been getting letters asking why it's become so expensive on places like e-bay. Up to £150 sometimes. Even the play, which sells for a few pounds, is being snapped up by unscrupulous buyers a hundred at a time and sold at hugely inflated prices, from which I earn not one bean! So, we're releasing it again, and of course, since the last one a few of George's leading ladies have popped their clogs.

I interviewed three of them. Dinah Sheridan was a darling. The others were nice to me--I lost my accent courtesy of elocution lessons at the Nellie Pledge Academy--but oh, that dreaded North-South divide, the fact that these "Londoners" (mostly from the North!) looked down at George and thought him a bit of a dope because he didn't speak like he had a mouthful of marbles.

And, the horror stories. Pat Kirkwood was lovely, though her husband was an old toad--we bought both of our dogs from the farm next to where they lived. Phyllis Calvert was a witch. I wrote that she had once met Tallulah Bankhead, and she went ape. How dare I mention that she had chatted with this disgusting woman? She was of course afraid that I would mention that her late husband, Peter Murray-Hill, was as camp as a row of pink tents because she had made it very clear that she disliked gay men. Dorothy Hyson hit the roof because she said she had spent half her lifetime trying to forget that she'd worked with George. What she did not add was that, because of him, she had attained stardom. Indeed, to appear in a Formby film was a huge accolade and a step in the right direction. They never grumbled at the time, and at the inflated salary working with him brought.

So, all the bits which were kindly removed by my team at the time, back in 1999 when all of these ladies were breathing, may now be put back in!

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