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What’s on the telly? Part five: Davy

In 1957, Harry Secombe was cast in his first lead film role in Davy. It told the story of a young entertainer who has to decide whether to stay involved with his family’s music hall act or head off on his own to pursue a solo career.

The film was released almost exactly 63 years ago, on 2 January 1958. It was intended as Secombe’s big break, but didn’t do as well as hoped. It was potentially affected by his Goon associations, with audiences expecting a ridiculous farce but getting something else. Having said that, there is more than a shade of Neddie Seagoon in this clip:

As one reviewer describes it: “Stylistically the film is an awkward combination of broad farce, Secombe having made his name as one of the denizens of the celebrated Goon Show, and awkward, turgid scenes of moral conflict.”

I’ll put you down for three stars, then?

Personally, I think it’s worth it for getting Secombe singing ‘Nessun Dorma’ straight. For all the jokes the Goons told about his singing, and for all the laughs he got with it, Secombe’s voice is excellent when he really lets rip.

Among the cast were several actors who were to gain fame through the Carry On films. Chief among them was Bill Owen, aka Compo from Last of the Summer Wine, who later appeared opposite Spike Milligan in Son of Oblomov.

Also featured were Liz Fraser, who also appeared in several movies with Peter Sellers; Kenneth Connor, who was to later stand in for Harry Secombe in ‘The £50 Cure’ at the end of the Goon Show’s ninth series; and Joan Sims, who almost stole the show in the first section of The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins.

The little boy is apparently Peter Frampton – not the rock musician, but the Oscar-winning make-up artist who later worked on Braveheart (for which he won the Academy Award), Withnail & I, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. His dad, Harry Frampton, was the make-up artist on Davy.

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