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Music Box, The (1957)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Edition originally transmitted on ITV (Rediffusion) on 18 January 1957

Ivy Benson and her all-female band play 'Lady Be Good'. Benson herself plays clarinet and wears a dress with a large hooped skirt, and all the female band members wear glamorous, shiny gowns. Benson introduces the next song, 'Hallelujah', and once that has finished says that the following number is for rock 'n' roll fans. This is vocalist and saxophonist Gloria Russell singing 'See You Later, Alligator'. It's all very jolly and rather charming.

The scene changes and a theatre curtain opens to reveal a figure in an old fur coat and battered straw hat. It's Bud Flanagan, whose attempts to sing 'Slow Boat to China' are thwarted by the studio manager, who tells him it sounds just as lousy close up as it does in various other parts of the studio. Flanagan introduces vocal quartet The Radio Revellers, who sing 'Rain, Rain, Rain' while dressed as American farm-hands in dungarees and check shirts. Shots of a theatre audience are inserted at various points. Bud pretends to ring his bookmaker in a comic aside, then welcomes his old friend 'Monsewer' Eddie Gray, who performs a comedy juggling act using Indian Clubs. Gray's male assistant is dressed identically, which adds to the comedy and confusion. Flanagan also wanders into the act at various points.

Part 2: After Ivy Benson and her band play another tune, Flanagan introduces The John Tiller Girls from the Victoria Palace Theatre. Jean Wynser sings 'Take More Exercise' as the dancers, dressed in blouses and polka dot shorts, do a dance routine based on their famous high-kicking style. Flanagan walks on screen to the strains of 'Underneath the Arches' and sings 'Life is What You Make It'. He talks about the Crazy Gang's 25th anniversary, which they celebrated the previous Tuesday. After cracking some jokes about the rest of the Gang and saying that Jimmy Nervo's habits can all be found in Dr Kinsey's report, he sings 'Dreaming' and 'Roaming Vagabond'. As he reprises 'Life is What You Make It' the curtain rises to reveal the Tiller Girls and the Radio Revellers, all dressed like him. Bud walks over to Ivy and kisses her, then rejoins the rest of the company as they all sing his song.