Summer Holiday

Special edition released by EMI in January 2003.

Project co-ordination, liner notes, recording data, discography, film annotation and archive research (with Peter Lewry).

Summer Holiday

On the sleeve notes for the Hits From Summer Holiday EP in 1963, James Wynn wrote “It’s doubtful if Cliff Richard will ever forget the gala London premiere of his film Summer Holiday. The cinema was packed tight with show business celebrities, and on the pavements outside thousands of excited fans jostled to get a glimpse of Britain’s No.1 singing star. Just before the film was about to start, Cliff arrived – but he never got further than the door of his car, Fans surged forward, breaking through the police cordons, and Cliff was unable to set foot on the pavement, let alone the inside of the cinema. The only solution was to drive away – and whilst the star-packed audience applauded his latest screen triumph in Leicester Square, Cliff was forced to spend the evening quietly watching television in a friend’s flat.”

Almost ten months earlier, in April 1962, Brian Locking had replaced Jet Harris in the line-up of Cliff’s backing group, The Shadows. Even though his stay as the new bass player would only last for another eighteen months, his recruitment had, quite remarkably, within a few weeks, coincided with the start-up date for the making of Summer Holiday.

Although it was the second of Cliff’s custom-made film musicals to be put together by his then agent Leslie Grade, it was also his fourth outing onto the cinema screen. By this time, Cliff had been seen in a variety of motion picture vehicles that had established his place in film. Serious Charge, Expresso Bongo and The Young Ones. In fact, it was the enormous success of his first starring role in the latter, combined with the huge sales of the simultaneous soundtrack album that had introduced the formula for which now Summer Holiday would continue.

Unlike The Young Ones with its setting in London, the film was to be set in Europe, simply because producer Kenneth Harper wanted to make a film that would capitalise on the increased interest among British youngsters – in their teens and early twenties – traveling abroad for their holidays. Although the idea of setting a story in Spain had at one time been considered, and would eventually end up as the backdrop for Finders Keepers four years later, for Summer Holiday, the setting, it was decided, would be Greece. As with Elvis and Hawaii, in his then latest in-production picture Girls! Girls! Girls! and the previous year’s Blue Hawaii, the exotic and romantic connotations of Greece for Cliff were equally ideal.

The only problem in scripting the story was how to get the characters – more or less the same gang from The Young Ones – from London to Athens. After all, as screenwriter Ron Cass correctly noted, ‘if they were basically classless but without the money for expensive holidays we needed a reason to get them abroad without them losing their identity as the Young Ones.’

It was only when Cass was traveling on a London bus that ‘it suddenly occurred to me that if we couldn’t get them to Greece by air, why not get them there on a London bus which we could convert into living quarters?’

Once the double-decker bus had been cast in the lead role, the screenplay itself fell into place. Cliff would be one of four London Transport mechanics who turn a double-decker bus into a traveling hotel and drive it across Europe to Greece, picking up three girls on the way and becoming entangled en route with another, a runaway internationally famous singer dressed as a boy while trying to escape her ambitious mother.

Although interiors were shot at Elstree Studios, where The Young Ones had been filmed, and such television dramas as Eastenders have permanent sets, all the exteriors for Summer Holiday (except for a brief longshot in Paris and the Bachelor Boy sequence) would be filmed on location in and around Athens starting in May 1962. But the idea of transporting two double-decker buses from London to Athens was considerably more difficult than first thought. Especially as the two buses needed for filming attempted to get there by road, only to find that they could not fit under most of bridges that they encountered. The back-up bus, in fact, didn’t make it at all, and had to turn back and be later sent by sea…