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Thursday September 20th 2018

The Boy Friend | 1971

The Boyfriend filming location: Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, Hampshire
The Boyfriend filming location: the Hollywood director watches the performance: Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, Hampshire

After the draining intensity of his masterpiece The Devils, Ken Russell allowed himself a bit of fun with this pastiche upon pastiche upon pastiche as a Thirties-style Hollywood director, De Thrill (Vladek Sheybal), watches a tatty British company stage a Fifties send-up of a Twenties musical. It’s long and a bit patchy, but it’s mostly great campy fun.

The musical was filmed on location at the New Theatre Royal, 20-24 Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth, in the town centre. A grade 2-listed Victorian building, the back of house was destroyed by fire in 1972, but the beautiful auditorium was fortunately saved.

The extravagant Busby Berkeley-inspired sets were built at Elstree Studios, where Ken Russell vowed never to work again after claiming some of the sets had collapsed.