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Julie Andrews: My Favourite Things 1975 Special

For this production Julie's husband, Blake Edwards, had got special permission to direct. The show started with a funny montage version of "Favourite Things", one of which was Julie eating a peanut butter sandwich whilst still singing. This she was unable to do and cracked up laughing. Blake kept this in the final cut. With guest stars Peter Sellers and an early appearance of Jim Henson's Muppets, this was a very polished and entertaining programme (despite the bizarre occurrences after the initial shoot and subsequent additional shoot). Overall, it had a filmic look and this had to be due to Blake's interpretation. The ‘special' guest star was The Pink Panther! Or, to be more precise, the four Pink Panthers performing a clever dance routine with Julie to the Pink Panther theme.The show started with a tribute to Duke Ellington with Julie fronting the Jack Parnell Orchestra. Then, a dance sequence with the Jim Henson (rarely seen) full-sized Muppets. A musical item with Kermit was followed by a Peter Sellers comedy sketch. Mr Sellers performed the sketch as a crazy German psychiatrist with a fixation on a Paddington Bear doll. Because of copyright problems, he was requested not to actually say the words Paddington Bear. This was a red rag to a bull! The hilarious sketch, a third of which was ad libbed, resulted in Paddington Bear being heavily featured and mentioned. Weeks later, the entire sketch had to be re-shot in Hollywood, where the copyright problem did not exist. A highlight of the show was the ‘Flying Down To Brighton' sequence with some of the most ambitious choreography and set designs from Lewis Logan ever seen at the Elstree studios. The set piece was introduced by a comedic impression of ‘Binkley Berkeley' from Peter Sellers intimating that ‘Anything Hollywood can do, we can do better'. The old Hollywood blockbuster "Flying Down To Rio" is changed by Binkley to ‘Flying Down To Brighton' It starts with Julie and the dancers on a mock up aeroplane wing before landing on Brighton Beach. The whole sequence culminates with Julie dressed in a terrific all-white naval outfit dancing a nautical compilation on board a battleship with Paddy Stone's twenty four dancers. The multi-dancing precision is something not seen too often these days. This is a Julie Andrews classic. Another Blake Edwards filmic conception. The show ends (rather tamely) with Julie singing ‘Melancholy baby' to camera in close-up. A wrap was announced and the studio was cleared. But Blake was not happy. Apparently, some days before, he and Julie had gone out to the wilds of Essex to view the fabulous stone artistry of Sir Henry Moore. They were very taken with the gigantic statues to be found in the capacious grounds of the museum-like home of Henry Moore. Now, sitting in the control room as the studio was clearing, Blake suggested that he wanted to take the crew out to Sir Henry Moore's residence and shoot a number with Julie. The studio chief was not best pleased. The show was completed, and on time, and further work could not be countenanced. Blake, unperturbed at this rebuttal, picked up a telephone and rang Sir Lew Grade. Lew gave Blake permission to do practically anything he wanted and the necessary arrangements were put in place. Ian Fraser, the musical director, hastily got together a trio to accompany his piano and within the hour Julie was laying down a guide track to ‘Out Of This World' The contention being that she would wander around the modernistic statues intimating that they were literally out of this world.Next morning, a Saturday, the crew started to arrive at 0630. A huge filmic camera crane had already been delivered and eventually Bill Brown, the senior cameraman, sat atop this giant with Blake Edwards alongside. They were looking for shots. We played bits of the track on loudspeakers while Julie traversed the huge statues singing first one line, then stop, then move the camera and equipment to another location, another statue, then another line of song, then stop again while another shot was searched for. The haste with which the shoot had been put together had not allowed for a cohesive camera plan. This went on until well after lunchtime. Apart from the usual bacon sandwich breakfast, a catering truck had prepared lunch for something like sixty people.At half past three in the afternoon, Julie was looking fragile. After trekking yet another two hundred yards to a possible site, then that site being rejected, she turned to Blake and said ‘Blake, I'm bushed'. Blake turned to floor manager Richard Holloway and said ‘Call a wrap, Richard'We wrapped with half the sequence unfinished. Arrangements were made to have a couple of the statues low-loaded to Elstree the following Monday where it was discovered the studio floor was unable to take the weight. The statues were placed on the lawn outside the office block, and that afternoon Julie finished the sequence. Bizarrely, the item was never used. The show finished (rather tamely) with ‘Melancholy Baby'. None the less, probably one of the best light entertainment shows to emit from the Elstree Studios in the nineteen seventies. Dick Van Dyke came to Elstree for a Julie Andres Special. N ever late on set, he was friendliness itself to everbody. STEP IN TIME was a big production number choreographed by Paddy Stone.  Halfway through shotting an ACTT strike closed the studio for three days.  The Covent Garden market vegetables were rotten by the time we resumed and the stench was appalling.  Nobody complained and the huge dance number was a highlight of the show! Click on Julie and Dick below to see the results.

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