A couple of days ago, comedian Martin Soan was staying at my home and showed me a 1985 BBC TV clip he had found on YouTube in which DJ Dave Lee Travis introduced a BBC-specially-shot video for Manfred Mann’s 1966 song Ha Ha Said The Clown featuring The Greatest Show on Legs – Martin Soan, Malcolm Hardee and (as the clown) Steve Bowditch. You can see it HERE.
Steve Bowditch told me “I remember the director saying to Malcolm We need someone to be the clown and Malcolm said Bowditch can laugh... so I laughed and he gave me the job!”
“We never met Dave Lee Travis,” Martin told me. “All three of us went up to Birmingham. It was done in-house by the BBC. They gave it to young… they weren’t producers… Maybe they were trainees. They all had to put in ideas for pop videos and then a director shot it with a crew of about 20.
“I think it took three days to shoot. After two days, they’d done with Steve and Malcolm but I had to spend another day doing stuff in toilets and things like that.
“Toilets?” I asked.
“Toilets,” repeated Martin.
“Steve and I had to get on top of the girl on the sofa. I did it very politely and got it out of the way within a couple of minutes. Bowditch then had to lie on top of her dressed as the clown and he took about three hours lying on top of her for that shot.”
“I was a bit dubious about the noses,” I said. “I seem to remember the rapists in Clockwork Orange wore those sort of noses.”
“I think President Reagan originally had Clockwork Orange eyebrows as well,” said Martin. “I’m not quite sure what they were trying to say. But the bit I remember most was where Steve, the girl and Malcolm marched across the screen.
“The director said: I just want you to go One-Two… One-Two… One-Two… Turn… One-Two… One-Two… One-Two…
“When they did it, Malcolm was completely out of step. In the first direction, he was kicking the girl’s heels, then they turned round and he was treading on her feet. He was unintentionally completely out of kilter with absolutely everything. I was laughing and the director was looking horrified.
“They did it and Malcolm went: Alright! Oy! Oy! In the can! One-take Hardee! Stick a cheque in the post! and walked off, leaving everyone open-mouthed it was so bad… and then they all broke out laughing.
“I don’t think they attempted to do it again because I guess they thought: No… No… We could spend too much time on this.”