Now it almost seems incredible, but we’ve found that of late one of the most ubiquitous topics of conversation among what we’re laughably and erroneously calling the wider TV Cream community is the Pet Shop Boys’ 1988 big screen blockbuster It Couldn’t Happen Here.
This is the rather, well, impressionistic film Neil and Chris made at the height of their imperial phase, but whose release more or less coincided with the end of the self-same period, and henceforth has forever been – wrongly – classed the first of the pair’s Great Mistakes (the second being the Absolutely Fabulous single).
A couple of TVC’s very own have seen the film. One of them has yet to be able to reach the end without falling asleep, while the other once tried to use it as the basis for a essay at university but gave up when he realised that trying to over-analyse the film was simultaneously diminishing his enjoyment of the group, which would have been a disaster.
Anyway, TV Cream’s weekly Creamguide mailout – our recommendations of TV and radio stuff we think you’ll find worth catching – has received almost half a dozen pieces of correspondence on this one topic.
That’s almost half a dozen more than we’d have said we might have received were we to have been asked to make such a prediction a month or so ago.
In the interest of furthering, erm, interest, and because it’s great to have discovered such an unexpected motif among the lives of TV Cream readers, here’s what you’ve been saying about It Couldn’t Happen Here:
Has it ever had a UK TV screening? I don’t ever remember it being on terrestrial TV but did it ever appear on any of the Sky channels? I hope it gets released on DVD soon, with a nice commentary by Neil, Chris and the director Jack Bond, who also makes a cameo appearance in the Heart video.
I worked with a bloke who had a copy of It Couldn’t Happen Here and he was kind enough to lend it to me. I’m ashamed to confess, I only wanted to see it because it had my favourite Bond girl, Carmen du Sautoy, in it and I hadn’t seen her in anything other than The Man With the Golden Gun. In the event, I enjoyed it despite glazing over in the final ten minutes. It was fascinating to hear Chris Lowe speak and I thought Gareth Hunt was marvellous. He should have been remembered for more than the New Avengers or for wanking with some coffee beans.
As far as I know, it’s never been shown on TV, but I remember going to see it at the Cannon cinema on the seafront in Brighton with a few mates – one of whom gave up halfway in and went to sleep underneath the seats. There was plenty of room in the cinema, as there were only about ten people in total. I quite liked it, even though it wasn’t actually very good, and ended up buying a video shop’s copy of the film as I thought it was unlikely to ever appear commercially – and paid an amount I would prefer not to remember for it… especially as I’ve only watched it once in the intervening 21 years.
Stuart Ian Burns:
I once had a VHS which I sold to Vinyl Exchange in Manchester for ten pounds. I only managed to watch the first 10 minutes though.
I would like to proudly say that I had a copy. In fact it was on my Christmas list! I put it on my list after seeing the promotional poster for it in the window of the local Spar. It was a big one that did rentals 50p cheaper than Astrovision, the dedicated video shop round the corner. I put it on on Christmas morning and watched the first ten minutes only to see a ladies dress blow up and a garter belt. Lucky for me nobody else was taking any notice and so didn’t see the almost Channel 4 red triangle level of naughtiness displayed on screen. With that I silently announced that I would watch it “later”. When “later” arrived the film was a revelation. Beautify shot, more mild titillation (Gareth Hunt touching up Barbara Windsor), the sequence part from It’s A Sin played on its own (which is of course the best bit) and… a Fairlight CMI Series 3x in the last shot! How many films can say they had a Fairlight on screen? Eh? Eh? And no, it was an Emu Emulator ll in Ferris Bueller.
You do know that it is on YouTube, don’t you? Part one is here, from there on it is easy to find the rest. I watched it all the way through on video when first released and recently on YouTube, and it is actually pretty OK. The Two Divided By Zero sequence is the best bit, I would say. Also you get to see Arlene Phillips in the credits and enjoy some exotic subtitles.
So there you go. If anyone else has memories of this iconic formative years-shaping film, or perhaps more precisely memories of trying to watch this iconic formative years-shaping film, please pass them along.
And if anyone knows anything about when – not if – it’s going to get a DVD release (it was issued on laserdisc, for heaven’s sake!), don’t hold back.
In the meantime [insert "what have I done to deserve this" gag] here’s even more about It Couldn’t Happen Here, in the shape of what we’re saying is nigh-on the definitive online tribute.