REVIEW: Lucy in London

  • Broadcast: October 24th, 1966 (USA only)
  • Character: Himself

11

PETER, dressed as Petruchio, and Lucille Ball as Katherine, in a scene from ‘Lucy in London’

‘Lucy in London’ was a TV special starring American Comedienne, Lucile Ball – broadcast in the United States on October 24th, 1966.

Produced and directed by Steve Binder, it was filmed entirely on location in London and featured some of Britain’s best-known entertainers, including PETER WYNGARDE, Anthony Newley, Wilfred Hyde-White and pop band, The Dave Clarke Five

Lucy Carmichael (Lucille Ball), an American secretary, arrives in London to claim a free day trip that she won in a dog food jingle contest. She expects a luxury limousine tour of the city, but instead is greeted by a tour guide named Tony (Anthony Newley) who escorts her in a motorcycle with an open sidecar. Their initial stop, for punting on the River Thames in an inflatable raft, ends disastrously when they collide with a rowing team and sink. ‘Tony’ then escorts Lucy to Carnaby Street, where she models the latest Mod clothing to Phil Spector’s musical number, ‘Lucy in London’.

During a visit to Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks, she’s spooked by the museum curator, played by veteran actor, Wilfred Hyde-White, who she mistakes for a waxwork come to life.

Her next stop is a typically beautiful English stately home, where she makes the acquaintance of a young gardener who looks strangely out of place, trimming the garden privets. It transpires that the green-fingered gentleman is in fact PETER WYNGARDE, who tells Lucy that he’s not a member of staff after all, but a Shakespearian actor who will be starring in an open-air production of The Taming of the Shrew in the mansions’ gardens later that evening.

Lucy is enthralled, and confesses that she is a huge fan of the Bard, and that it had been her lifelong ambition to appear in one of his plays. PETER invites her to join him in a scene from the play, which Lucy jumps at.

PETER5

PETER, Lucille Ball and Director, Steve Binder run through the script.

With PETER in the role of Petruchio, and Lucy as Kate, they both throw themselves into the part. However, Lucy wonders what she’s let herself in for when ‘Petruchio’ shifts up a gear or two – flinging the giddy ‘Shrew’ around the garden, and tanning her behind soundly with his whip.

Having made her escape, Lucy rendezvous with ‘Tony’ who return to the Thames where the twosome are joined by The Dave Clarke Five for a rendition of London Bridge Is Falling Down.

Lucy and ‘Tony’ now arrive at an empty theater, where Tony throws on a tuxedo and sings a medley of songs from the Leslie Bricusse-Anthony Newley show – including Stop the World I Want To Get Off. At the finale of the show with Lucy follows him with a mime act and a song where she shows her appreciation of her London adventures.

‘Lucy in London’ came about as part of Lucille Ball’s 1966-67 contract renewal with CBS. At the time, she was producing and starring in ‘The Lucy Show’ for the network. The agreement gave her the option to star in three specials that would be produced independent of her weekly program. Ball originally planned a production where she would co-star with Mitzi Gaynor as two nuns touring Europe, followed by a French-based production called Lucy in Paris and a Middle Eastern comedy called Lucy in Arabia. None of those projects gained footing, and instead Ball, through her company Desilu Productions, opted to shoot Lucy in London.

Loo

The concept for ‘Lucy in London’ was set up in an episode of The Lucy Show called Lucy Flies to London. Much of that episode, which involved Lucy’s unfamiliarity with air travel, was based on an unsold pilot written and shot in 1960.

Laurence Olivier was signed to appear in Lucy in London, but withdrew from the production prior to shooting.

Lucy in London was broadcast on October 24, 1966. Viewership was high for the special (finishing as the most-watched broadcast of the week).

Lucille Ball had personally asked PETER to appear in the Special having seen him play Count Marcellus in ‘Duel of Angels’ at the Helen Hayes Theatre on Broadway in 1960. She was said to have been smitten by him, and was determined to find a way for the two of them to act together.

“Lucy may’ve thought I was kidding, but if she wanted to play this straight she would be a marvellous Kate. Her looks are absolutely right as is her vitality. And she’s a good enough actress to be able to do it”. PETER WYNGARDE – Las Vegas Sun, 23 October, 1966


The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/

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