Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Young Ones, The (1961)


Main image of Young Ones, The (1961)
Cinemascope, 108 min, Technicolor
DirectorSidney J. Furie
Production CompanyAssociated British
ProducerKenneth Harper
Story / ScreenplayPeter Myers
 Ronald Cass
CinematographyDouglas Slocombe
Music and LyricsPeter Myers
 Ronald Cass

Cast: Cliff Richard (Nicholas 'Nicky' Black); Robert Morley (Hamilton Black); Carole Gray (Toni); The Shadows (musicians); Teddy Green (Chris); Richard O'Sullivan (Ernest); Melvyn Hayes (Jimmy)

Show full cast and credits

When their youth club is threatened with demolition by a property tycoon, the kids come up with a novel plan to fight back: they put on a show...

Show full synopsis

One of the first fruits of the Associated British studio's decision to concentrate on comedies and musicals, The Young Ones is not so much a vehicle for Cliff Richard as an elaborate - and very successful - London musical with Cliff as just one of its attractions. Douglas Slocombe's immaculate Eastmancolor cinematography and director Sidney J. Furie's ambitious use of crane shots raise the film well above the typical British pop vehicle of its day - black and white cinematography and a shooting schedule of two weeks. The Young Ones even boasts a major guest star in the form of Robert Morley, amiably grumbling that the members of his son's youth club spend all of their time "polishing their coshes".

In fact, the gang spend most of their time playing the guitar and enjoying rather tame rock and roll dances, for The Young Ones' 'teenage' cast is carefully neutered. In the earlier Expresso Bongo (d Val Guest, 1959), Cliff was an attractively surly presence, but here he is merely precise of diction and beaming of smile, already following the path previously trodden by Tommy Steele towards becoming an 'all round entertainer'. Cliff is also off-screen for a surprising proportion of the running time - leading lady Carole Gray is given two solo numbers - but some of his numbers are memorable and there is at least the constant presence of the original Shadows line-up for the benefit of any boys dragged to the cinema by their girlfriends.

The film contains any number of very 1961 moments: a scene in which the club's pirate radio broadcast interrupts a Strand Cigarette commercial is especially priceless. Naturally, Cliff and Robert resolve their differences and all ends happily, but one of the film's highlights is when the youth club turn a derelict theatre into a passable imitation of the London Palladium in approximately five minutes. And it is very hard to dislike a film that offers up Cliff and the Shadows performing 'We Say Yeah' in glorious colour, or the spectacle of Robert Morley attempting to dance. Besides, the plot is rumoured to be the inspiration behind the cult hit The Blues Brothers (US, 1980).

Andrew Roberts

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1 'I got a funny feeling' (3:30)
2. No more Nicholas Hamilton Black Jr (2:52)
3. 'You've got a show!' (4:26)
Expresso Bongo (1959)
Summer Holiday (1962)
Tommy Steele Story, The (1957)
Young Ones, The (1982-84)
Harper, Gerald (1931-)
Morley, Robert (1908-1992)
O'Sullivan, Richard (1944-)
Richard, Cliff (1940-)
Slocombe, Douglas (1913-)