"OFFENSIVE" BEE GEES TV PLAY?
(New Musical Express, April 8, 1968)

Transcript by Anne Marie


Screenplay for the Bee Gees’ first full length feature film “Lord Kitchener’s Little Drummer Boys” is being specially written by Johnny Speight, creator of the BBC1 series ‘Til Death do Us Part’. To enable Speight to complete work on the script, shooting of the film has been delayed until October. The group may also have singing and acting roles in a television play, also written by Speight, which has been rejected by the BBC and Rediffusion as “too controversial”.

The movie casts the five Bee Gees as youngsters press ganged into the army ass bandsmen during the Boer War. It will be produced by Associated London Films, with the group’s manager Robert Stigwood as executive producer, and will be filmed in colour with a budget of £500,000.

It was only last week that Johnny Speight agreed to write the screenplay when, after the Bee Gees’ concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, he attended a reception and enthused about the group’s music. The idea of the picture was then outlined to him. Six new songs will be written by the group for the film, which is described as ‘a comedy with music’.

Speight will join the Bee Gees for a few dates on their current tour in order to familiarise himself with their personalities. After the tour the group will take acting lessons as, with the exception of Colin Petersen, they have no previous dramatic experience.

The Speight TV play is titled ‘If There Weren’t Any Blacks, You’d Have To Invent Them’ and was originally commissioned by the BBC two years ago. It went into production but was halted because it was considered, “too offensive”. Rediffusion also rejected it for the same reason. Speight told NME that public opinion had now changed and that fresh offers were being considered. If a deal was finalised the Bee Gees would have major roles in the production.

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