The Strange World of Gurney Slade Logo

“I'm a walking television show. I can't get away from them. Big Brother is watching me, and Big Dad and Big Mum. The whole family's watching me. I'm like a goldfish in a bowl...”

Dissatisfied with his role in a stereotypical television sitcom, Gurney Slade decides to take matters into his own hands: walking off-set and out into the real world, he meets all sorts of strange and interesting people, animals and inanimate objects, each with a life all of their own. But are Gurney’s experiences real, or are they just in his mind..?

‘The Strange World of Gurney Slade’ was devised by rising star Anthony Newley; as a child he had played the Artful Dodger in ‘Oliver Twist’, before going on to appear in a spate of films such as ‘The Good Companions’, ‘X the Unknown’, ‘Fire Down Below’, ‘How to Murder a Rich Uncle’, ‘No Time to Die’ and ‘Killers of Kilimanjaro’. After appearing in ‘Idle on Parade’ Newley released a ballad from the film, 'I've Waited So Long', which sent him to the top of the music charts; more records followed, including ‘Someone to Love', 'Strawberry Fair', and the Number One hits ‘Why’ and ‘Do You Mind’ (he even wrote the theme tune for James Bond movie ‘Goldfinger’!). Newley went on appear in more movies (including the semi-autobiographical, madly-titled ‘Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?’), host television variety shows, and co-write hit musicals (such as ‘Stop the World - I Want to Get Off’, ‘The Roar of the Greasepaint - the Smell of the Crowd’ and the cult movie ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’).

At the time Newley said: “There is no rhyme or reason for what I do, I merely take life and turn it upside down. We hope to achieve humour without setting out to be deliberately funny.” He certainly achieved this – the show acts like a stream of consciousness as Gurney Slade (Newton’s on-screen alter ego) wanders through life exploring his surroundings and pondering the true nature of everyone and everything he encounters. The result is an entertaining and amusing blend of the abstract, the surreal, the bizarre and the just plain odd!

Written in collaboration with sit-com partners Dick Hills and Sid Green, ‘The Strange World of Gurney Slade’ was co-directed by Newley and the show’s producer, Alan Tarrant. Notable for its innovative yet seemingly care-free direction, pre-recorded inner-monologue narration, and complete lack of a laughter track, the show is also blessed with one of the catchiest theme tunes ever (written by Max Harris, and introduced each time with a knowing piano-playing twiddle of Newley’s hand, the track would later gain greater fame when featured in the BBC children's show ‘Vision On’).

Unfortunately, whilst the show was mostly well-received by the critical press, it was years ahead of anything the public wanted – and understood – and audience figures quickly dwindled (although this wasn’t helped by the fact that the channel bosses seemingly panicked, and later moved it to a post-11pm timeslot). Newley cleverly turned this to his advantage, and in a ‘fourth-wall’-breaking move that pre-empted the self-awareness of shows like ‘Moonlighting’, ‘Sean’s Show and ‘The Prisoner’, the fourth episode saw Gurney put on trial for not having a sense of humour in his television show!

After six episodes ‘The Strange World of Gurney Slade’ ended, although it at least it had a proper resolution, as Newley appeared as himself and carried Gurney away. The show was repeated in 1963, and the first episode got a further outing in Channel 4's ‘TV Heaven’ series in 1992. A DVD was released in 2011, so I would strongly recommend you go out and get yourself a copy so that you too can experience just what it is like to go to Gurneyland!

The Strange World of Gurney Slade - Season 1

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Legal Bit: 'The Strange World of Gurney Slade' is a registered trademark of Carlton International Media Ltd. The 'Strange World of Gurney Slade' logo and all images from the television series are copyright Carlton International Media Ltd. unless otherwise stated; music is copyright the original composers and producers; no copyright infringement is intended. All specially created images and text are copyright © Clive Banks; please do not use these without my permission. All rights reserved. No profit is made from this website, and any revenue made from using the banner-links featured goes straight back into the costs of maintaining it, which comes out of my own pocket in the first place. No profit advertising is accepted. This website was created purely to entertain and amuse, and any references to persons living, dead, comatose, in suspended animation, under investigation, not born yet, or a figment of someone's imagination is purely coincidental. All opinions expressed are my own, so there...

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