Monday, 11 January 2010

The Nine Road

"Through the heart of the British metropolis. Moving smartly down a thin red line. London Transport's respectable warrior. The number nine. Picks up the City business man, tourists from the Serpentine. French, Arabs, Polish and Finnish men. The number nine ..." A while back I stumbled, as you do, across a clip of The Nine Road, a film made for London Transport by the British Transport Films team in 1976 about the bus route number nine, and was enchanted by the title song which featured at the start and the end of the footage. I figured it would be easy to find out more, but the internet wasn't much help and even when I tracked down a copy of the film the music wasn't mentioned in the credits. Grrr. Thankfully I stumbled across some splendid chaps at the BTF forum, who suggested it was Norman Beaton singing. What a splendid suggestion. It would fit perfectly. I know Norman had written musicals while in the UK and had sung calypso back in Guyana before leaving for England at the start of the '60s, and fans of Desmond's will remember his character's combo, the Georgetown Dreamers, featuring our friend Ram John Holder, Sol Raye, and Count Prince Miller (Jimmy James' sidekick at one time). This film then I guess would have been made just before Norman appeared on our TV screens in the sit-com The Fosters, set on a south London estate, and starring a teenage Lenny Henry just after his massive success on the TV talent show New Faces. This was Norman's first breakthrough role. So the British Transport Films team needs to be commended if they used Norman. You cannot imagine that happening now. The detailed documentary/real life feel would be replaced by glossy marketing puff dictated by some agency team with no feel for or interest in its subject matter but which charges so much for its services ignorant accountants think they must be adding value. Aww don't get me started. Let's just enjoy The Nine Road and for now we'll have to wonder whether this really is Norman Beaton . We're working on it ...

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