Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

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prisoner5
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Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by prisoner5 »

Saw recently on a clip show a take on that live bookcase scene where he was dragged thru it and knocked out before being shoved out of a window causing him serious injury, the well known story is that the bookcase was "repaired" by stagehands after a shift break because it looked shoddy, but sources claim a different scenario, that it was firmly nailed together by crew members because he was so disliked even hated by all concerned because of his aloofness.
Was he really so difficult? i was shocked!

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Ross
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Ross »

I saw him on TV telling an anecdote which he seemed to think was funny. As a Butlin's redcoat, his manager had heard of his martial arts skills and he was ordered to take classes with the campers in addition to his normal workload. He saw this as an imposition and so deliberately broke a man's arm during the first class. He claimed to his manager that it was an accident and that such things were common for beginners and so, as he'd intended, the classes were henceforth cancelled.

He smirked and laughed at his ruse, but just came across as vicious and sadistic, borderline sociopathic.

He was also anti-union. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but in the Seventies he defied Equity by employing local beauty queens (non-members) in his touring show. This annoyed a lot of his peers.

andrew baker
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by andrew baker »

I did actually see it live. It was quite worrying. I suppose I was 7. It's on Youtube.

I was very keen on Drake up to that age - especially one about a square ballcock. I never liked the ITV series. He did a very early colour BBC2 series which seemed very "European" with drawn out mime routines.I remember some tedious sketch with him singing "only a rose." Did it win a Golden Rose? Golden Rose shows tended to be cobbled together shows avoiding to much verbal humour but the Drake series was like that anyway.

But I can't find anything to match on IMDB. It was one of those things that was obviouslyin colour, brightly lit, but we watched in B&E. If it was on BBC2 it can't have been before 1968 when we finally got BBC2 and not after Mar 1971 when we got colour - very early for Bedford. No one else at school had colour!

(The first Dr Who I saw in colour was The Claws of Axos. The life changing experience was the first colour showing of the last series of the Avengers late at night during summer 1971- feb 1972 on Anglia)

andrew baker
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by andrew baker »

Yes, it was a colour 1968 series - not on IMDB??? This is actually from the Montreux compilation show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZM33ynvBKg

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Bob Richardson
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Bob Richardson »

Drake was a hero of Jim Davidson and guested on "Big Break". During rehearsals one afternoon there was some banter between JD and CD about the latter's "shags" including a young female presenter (still working) who was bedded because she wanted a leg-up in the world of television. Drake smirked and sniggered, acknowledging that it was true. I never much liked him. His entertainment shows were juvenile and "Who Is Sylvia?" was just tedious. I'm still baffled by his popularity.
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Brock »

Bob Richardson wrote:I'm still baffled by his popularity.
So am I. I remember his appearance on the daytime game show Quick on the Draw, where contestants like Willie Rushton, Humphrey Lyttelton and Bill Tidy were asked to draw cartoons on a given subject. Charlie Drake couldn't draw (perhaps another example of "one-joke comedy"?).

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Bernie
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Bernie »

andrew baker wrote: He did a very early colour BBC2 series which seemed very "European" with drawn out mime routines.
I worked on that series as a camera assistant. It was a hugely embarrassing experience, even on the back of the Mole

B

Mark
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Mark »

Difficult comic or not, there's no way the crew fixed the shelves on purpose, he was in a coma for a while and the rest of the series was cancelled.

I suppose he's another divisive entertainer, but I have to say I thought "The Worker"" was brilliant, a very cleverly written series, with a great idea behind each episode, My favourite was "A Punting We Will go", where he worked in a betting shop and constantly lost on the horses, then he gets a job delivering prizes to a chap who can't stop winning, it was a very funny series.
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Simon Coward
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Simon Coward »

Brock wrote:
Bob Richardson wrote:I'm still baffled by his popularity.
So am I. I remember his appearance on the daytime game show Quick on the Draw, where contestants like Willie Rushton, Humphrey Lyttelton and Bill Tidy were asked to draw cartoons on a given subject. Charlie Drake couldn't draw (perhaps another example of "one-joke comedy"?).
I don't think it was especially unusual for some of the guests to be less than handy with the felt-tip.

To compare the skills of an actor/writer with three people who've all cartooned professionally is a bit unfair, you could just as easily point out that Diana Dors was no great shakes on the edition on which she appeared.

I'm certainly with Mark on The Worker, I think it's a show of genius. A friend, whose taste I mostly agree with, rates Who is Sylvia? highly too, though I don't think we can have seen it in my house, I've no memory of it whatsoever.

But certainly, everything I've heard about Charlie Drake as a person seems to have a common, and very unflattering, view of him.
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ITMA
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by ITMA »

Didn't he insist on being called "Mr Charles Drake" whilst residing at Brinsworth House? Bet the rest of the residents loathed him.

No one will ever know the truth I guess, but I can well believe that it was deliberate sabotage. The crew probably didn't intend to nearly kill him, and they certainly wouldn't have guessed that he'd be dumped unconscious out of that window, onto a lead weight.

I reckon a prank intended to shake him up went further than intended and their only regret was the loss of the work from the series cancellation.

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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Brock »

Simon Coward wrote:
Brock wrote: I remember his appearance on the daytime game show Quick on the Draw, where contestants like Willie Rushton, Humphrey Lyttelton and Bill Tidy were asked to draw cartoons on a given subject. Charlie Drake couldn't draw (perhaps another example of "one-joke comedy"?).
I don't think it was especially unusual for some of the guests to be less than handy with the felt-tip.

To compare the skills of an actor/writer with three people who've all cartooned professionally is a bit unfair, you could just as easily point out that Diana Dors was no great shakes on the edition on which she appeared.
So why was he invited on the show then? I must admit I don't remember Diana Dors' appearance, but all the guests I remember had some sort of artistic ability. He appeared to have been invited specifically because he had none. Which is quite funny in one way, but irritating in another.

(P.S. I'm hopeless at drawing as well, but then I don't show off about it!)

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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by magpie55 »

I can remember watching the incident live aged around 7 or 8. I think they just rolled the credits once it was apparent he was knocked out with no further explanation. It was not until the following day that the newspapers had the story of how seriously hurt he was. I also liked the The Worker which was enhanced by Henry McGee's great performance as the increasingly exasperated Mr Pugh at the labour exchange. I think that Who Is Sylvia was Charlie's attempt to move away from the cheeky chap slapstick character that had brought him so much success to do something more grown up. Sadly for him it did not work.

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Simon Coward
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Simon Coward »

Brock wrote:So why was he invited on the show then?
The point was, really, that the guests needed to be humorous and quick-witted, and that was at least as important as the ability to draw. Obviously the ideal guest would also be able to draw, and draw pretty quickly too.

Many professional cartoonists would fit that bill, of course, but most of the audience wouldn't know them from Adam, even if they bought the newspaper or magazine that their work was regularly featured in, which meant that they wouldn't put bums on seats. So you're limited to one of those per show at best.

If you're after someone who's quick-witted and humorous from "the world of showbiz" you'll mainly be looking at comedians and comic actors, and from the latter perhaps especially those who also wrote material and so were used to having to come up with gags themselves.

You can see the potential pool shrinking all the time.

And unlike some "amateurs", Charlie was up against a pro and a former/semi-pro both times: Willie Rushton and Peter Maddocks in his first show, Tony Hawes and Ern Shaw in his second, which perhaps amplified any lack of skill on his part.
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by ian b »

magpie55 wrote:It was not until the following day that the newspapers had the story of how seriously hurt he was.
Here's how the, easily viewable, Glasgow Herald handled it...

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 5877&hl=en

ITMA
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by ITMA »

magpie55 wrote:I can remember watching the incident live aged around 7 or 8. I think they just rolled the credits once it was apparent he was knocked out with no further explanation.
Yes, the credits roll after a very uncomfortable few minutes of the actor who threw him out of the window improvising and biding for time. It's easily findable on video websites - it is unpleasant to watch really, I feel most sorry for the actor who has to pick him up, he struggles because he's unconscious and some other actor steps on to help.

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Ross
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Ross »

I'm amazed The actor didn't realise something was amiss.

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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by ITMA »

Ross wrote:I'm amazed The actor didn't realise something was amiss.
Perhaps he was in on it! "One way or another Mr Charles, you've got a meeting with a stage weight..."

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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Simon Coward »

Ross wrote:I'm amazed The actor didn't realise something was amiss.
Do you really think an actor is going to admit that he realised what had happened but decided to throw Charlie through the window anyway? For all we know, Drake had been very convincing at "playing dead" during rehearsal. It would be just like the cussed-so-and-so to make it as difficult as possible for someone else to pick him up and chuck him.

A live production would no more stop because someone was injured than if someone died (see also Armchair Theatre and Live From Her Majesty's). Unless it really became impossible to continue, for instance if Drake's injury had occurred a few minutes from the start rather than a few minutes from the end, the show must go on and all that...
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Ross
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Ross »

I don't know if he'd admit it or not, but he obviously didn't see that anything was amiss, despite it being obvious. Unless he really was a "show must go on as written" actor, who thought that Drake had to go through that window under any circumstances, rather than improvising around it (by, say, dragging him off camera and hoping the director would wrap things up).

I doubt that Drake played a dead weight in rehearsal. The normal response to such slapstick would be to totter around on your feet and then be grabbed and hurled through the window. Here he was totally unconscious.

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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Mark »

Production staff must have been teetering on the homicidal side...then.

All because they didn't like him.

The Actors are clearly confused, and just continue with what they were supposed to do.
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Vera Lamonte
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Vera Lamonte »

Bob Richardson wrote:Drake was a hero of Jim Davidson and guested on "Big Break". During rehearsals one afternoon there was some banter between JD and CD about the latter's "shags" including a young female presenter (still working) who was bedded because she wanted a leg-up in the world of television. Drake smirked and sniggered, acknowledging that it was true. I never much liked him. His entertainment shows were juvenile and "Who Is Sylvia?" was just tedious. I'm still baffled by his popularity.
You probably know that he was in Davidson's "adult panto" Sinderella, which is on youtube in its entirety. Charm and wit are at a premium.

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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by brigham »

Wasn't Drake supposed to come through the bookcase and out of the window in one supposedly involuntary move? I can't see why he would be deliberately thrown out of the window, after having been dragged through the bookcase.
There again, I haven't seen the script.

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Billy Smart
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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Billy Smart »

Graham McCann's welcome new blog is launched with the fullest account of the bookcase incident that I've yet read - https://comedybabylon.com/2019/10/01/1-charlie-drake/

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Re: Charlie Drake, that bookcase incident.

Post by Mark »

Interesting, very critical in general though.

Apart from the excellent and thoughtful "The Worker", he won Montreux in 1968 for "The World Of Charlie Drake", and went on to advise other comedians in physical comedy.

Watching "The Cracksman" on TPTV, the scene near the end of the film when he ( along with the villians) is attempting to open the safe and listening to various sounds, before they all break into song, is still a very funny and clever bit of biz.

Whatever his faults, he was entertaining and deserves his place in comedy.
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