performs for free
Another piece in the Formby jigsaw was firmly put in place last week
when the long lost 50’s film “Atlantic Showboat” was tracked down by
this website and now a first rate video copy is safely stored within the
archives of the George Formby Society.
I am sure that many Formby fans (including Society members) will have
no idea what this film is even about.
In the late 1950’s Hughie Green star of the hit TV show’s “Double Your
Money” and “Opportunity Knocks” produced a variety film based on a
voyage on the recently launched cruise ship ‘Empress Of Britain’. The
destination of the cruise was Canada, which was Hughie Green’s
Hughie had organised the film around
some of the leading lights of show
business at the time including Shirley
Bassey, David Whitfield, Lionel and
Joyce Blair and Duke Ellington. When
George Formby (who was a friend of
Hughie) learned of the cruise he asked
Hughie why he hadn’t been invited,
Hughie told George that the budget
wouldn’t stretch to George’s fee but
George came straight back and said that
he would do the trip for just the ticket!
The film lasts around 50 minutes and
whilst Formby doesn’t feature until the
last reel, the whole film is a fascinating
look at the style of television programme
that was being made at that time. This
would be shortly after the birth of
commercial television in the UK and of
course Hughie Green was a major figure
within the commercial television scene.
George Formby is actually seen walking into the ship at the start of the
film and then isn’t seen again until the final reel when the camera opens
on him signing an autograph for a little girl. Hughie then comes to chat
to George and Formby tells him that he knows a song about their final
destination. George then sings “Hello Canada” a song that he never
officially recorded. After this he sings “Pleasure Cruise” what else? And
then the film goes into the final scenes.
My thanks to Chris Webster who emailed me to inform that the film was
in fact shown on ITV on January 10th 1959 and even sent a cutting from
the TV Times advertising the film.
The Society was allowed to make one copy of the film and it will be
shown at a Society convention later this year.
I am delighted that we have been allowed access to this film especially
in the 40th year of the Society’s existence.
I believe that Hughie Green loaned the film to the Society to be
screened at a convention many years ago but I would think most of our
members would never have seen it.
Empress of Britain - Queen Anna Maria -
Carnivale - Olympic - Topaz
The Empress of Britain was built in 1956 by Fairfields of Glasgow,
preceding sister Empress of England into service by one year. She was
Britain's first fully air-conditioned liner. Initially running on the North
Atlantic from Liverpool, she ran her first winter Caribbean cruise from
New York in January 1960. As time passed, more of her time was spent
cruising as air travel hit the Atlantic market, and her final Atlantic voyage
was number 123, completed in October 1963, only seven years after
her maiden voyage. She was sold to the Greek Line, and re-entered
service for them as Queen Anna Maria in 1965, running a fortnightly
service to New York calling at Naples and Lisbon. Following the collapse
of the Greek Line, she was sold to Carnival, joining the the Mardi Gras
(ex-Empress of Canada) in 1975 as the Carnivale. Following the
numerous new deliveries to Carnival, she was transferred to subsidiary
Fiesta Marine Cruises as Fiesta Marina. She was sold again in 1994 to
Epirotiki as Olympic, and has recently been on charter to British tour
company Thomson as the Topaz.