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Thread: Hughie Green

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    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    [Hughie] Green, Hugh Hughes (1920-1997), entertainer, was born at 8 Weymouth Court, 1 Weymouth Street, St Marylebone, London, on 2 February 1920, the son of Hugh Aitchison Green, fish broker and former major in the Canadian militia, and his wife, Violet Elenore, nee Price. His parents had lived in Canada between 1907 and 1917, and retained strong Canadian connections thereafter: one of Green's godfathers was Sir Sam Hughes, the Canadian minister of militia during the First World War. His Scottish father had been dubbed Canada's Fishmonger General, and his Irish mother sang as an amateur soprano. Green's early years were steeped in show business, as his father invited the stars from the local variety theatres round for Saturday night singsongs. Evelyn Laye sang, Jack Buchanan tap-danced, and Harry Tate, the walrus-whiskered comedian, became Green's other godfather. When he was seven he made his stage debut as the unseen engine cranking the propeller of Tate's comedy aeroplane at the London Coliseum. And so were born the twin loves of his life, the stage and flying. After a trip to Canada at the age of seven, when Green sang in the ship's concert and absorbed the twang that gave him that popular accent known as 'mid-atlantic', the family returned to Golders Green, Middlesex, where four years later Green staged his own show at the Hoop Lane Hall, and raised £4 3s. 0d. to help the Royal National Hospital towards its target of £50,000. Meanwhile, he was educated, first at a preparatory school in St John's Wood, then at a boarding-school in Bromley.



    Green's first professional engagement came in 1931 at the Garrick Theatre. In an old time music-hall show he put on one of Harry Tate's ginger moustaches and sang 'Gilbert the Filbert', finishing off with Tate's classic catch-phrase, 'Goodbye-eee!' Two years later Bryan Michie, talent spotter for BBC radio, got Green and his 'Gang' of youngsters an audition which resulted in a short series of shows. His signature tune was 'The Wearing o' the Green'; and among his youthful cast were Lauri Lupino Lane and Connie Wood, who later attained fame as songstress Kathy Kay.



    The year of Green's big break was 1934. First he and his Gang entered 'cine-variety', touring the Paramount cinema circuit; then he was filmed by the Pathetone Weekly playing office boy to Harry Tate; and finally Gaumont-British cast him in the feature Little Friend supporting their child star Nova Pilbeam. In the following year he played the title role in the film of Marryat's famous novel Midshipman Easy. Carol Reed directed, Green saved Margaret Lockwood from bandits, and the mate was played by Harry Tate. More films followed. Green was a guest star in Radio Pirates (1937), doing a selection of his impressions, an act he repeated in Music Hall Parade (1939). His repertoire included Jack Buchanan, Claude Dampier ('the professional idiot'), Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh, Robertson Hare, Vic Oliver, Nellie Wallace, and, of course, Harry Tate. He saved Margaret Lockwood from the Crystal Palace fire in Melody and Romance (1937) and starred with his stage Gang in Down our Alley (1939).



    Green's other career, flying, took off when he was nineteen. He flew solo in June 1939. When the Second World War began he volunteered for the Royal Air Force. Rejected, he went to Canada, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, and soon became sergeant instructor for Link trainer aircraft. After Pearl Harbor he transferred to Ferry Command and spent his war flying Catalinas from California to Russia. After the war he found himself forgotten by show business, no longer a talented teenager. He tried Canadian radio in 1945 without much success, played a small part in the Hollywood film If Winter Comes (1947), and returned to England the next year for a supporting role in Paper Orchid.



    In 1949 Green put up the idea of a new type of amateur talent show, and the BBC radio producer Dennis Main Wilson took it on. Opportunity Knocks, with Green billed as 'Your master of opportunities', was a swift success, with its unusual idea of big-name talent spotters. The film star Sheila Sim was the first, and discovered talent included Jean Bayliss and Louise Traill. Later came Louise Gainsborough, the Gaunt brothers, the Kordites, and a trumpet impersonator named Spike Milligan. Embarrassingly, Green's rejects included Alma Cogan and Tony Hancock. By the end of the first series Green had travelled 20,000 miles, auditioned 4000 acts, and broadcast 165 of them. Meanwhile Green had been trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade the BBC to show the programme on television. After the programme was dropped, in 1950, he brought a court action against the BBC, claiming that, for corrupt reasons, they were 'conspiring to prevent the show being screened' in favour of Carroll Levis's Discoveries (Daily Telegraph, 5 May 1997). Despite Lord Hailsham's taking up his case, Green lost, and was bankrupted. Undaunted, he returned to his alternative career as a pilot, ferrying planes and working as a Hollywood stuntman. Nevertheless he retained his European and broadcasting connections, transferring Opportunity Knocks to Radio Luxemburg (where it was sponsored by Horlicks malted milk) in 1950, and in 1954 devising a new show for Radio Luxemburg. This was Double your Money, a cash quiz show. The first winners were newly-weds Mr and Mrs Smith, who answered a series of six questions and won the top prize of £32. The new sponsor was Lucozade.



    Independent Television (ITV) came to England in 1955, and the smiling face of Hughie Green beamed out of the monochrome screen for the first time. The visual version of Double your Money was an immediate hit. The top prize was still £32, but a new addition was the Treasure Trail which came to a head at £1024, an unheard of sum at the time. In the following year Green brought his Opportunity Knocks to ITV, with a top prize of £400. Green introduced his new device, the 'Clapometer', which measured audience applause. Many new stars were born, including Russ Abbot, Frank Carson, Les Dawson, Freddie Davis, known as Parrotface Davis, Mary Hopkin, Bonnie Langford, Little and Large, Tom O'Connor, and Lena Zavaroni. Double your Money ran until 1968, when it was replaced by a similar show, The Sky's the Limit, again with Green as presenter, which ran until 1974. Opportunity Knocks was taken off the air in 1978. Green blamed the broadcasting executives and critics, who had criticized his populist approach and his frequent (and increasingly bizarre) expressions of right-wing political views:

    TV's been taken over by anti-patriots. The Reds aren't under the beds, they're right in there running programming. Why else did they stop me praising our heritage, and giving viewers good old rousing patriotic stuff to get this country back on our feet? (Daily Telegraph, 5 May 1997)



    Following his departure from television, Green pursued a variety of business interests, while continuing to criticize the major television companies for their 'anti-patriotic' broadcasters. He was a staunch supporter of Mary Whitehouse, for being 'prepared to speak up for clean boots and short hair' (The Times, 5 May 1997). He returned briefly to the BBC in 1987, as a consultant for a new series of Opportunity Knocks, but resigned over the choice of presenter. In 1989 he unsuccessfully sued the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation for pirating his Opportunity Knocks format (including the 'Clapometer'), spending £250,000 on legal fees in the process.



    Green married his childhood sweetheart, Claire Wilson, in 1942, and they had a son (Christopher) and a daughter (Linda). The marriage was dissolved in 1975. He died in London on 3 May 1997. At his memorial service Noel Botham, a friend, revealed that Green was the father of Paula Yates (1959-2000), a television personality, and daughter of Heller Thornton. This came as a shock to Miss Yates, who thought her father was Green's colleague, the television producer Jess Yates, and to Green's children. However, in December 1997 DNA tests proved that Green was indeed the father.



    by Denis Gifford



    Sources H. Green, Opportunity knocked (1995) + The Times (5 May 1997) + The Independent (5 May 1997) + Daily Telegraph (5 May 1997) + The Observer (14 Dec 1997) + b. cert. + CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1997)

    Archives BL NSA, oral history interview SOUND BL NSA, oral history interview

    Likenesses photographs, 1930-75, Hult. Arch. · photograph, 1971, Hult. Arch. [see illus.] · photograph, repro. in The Times · photograph, repro. in The Independent · photograph, repro. in Daily Telegraph

    Wealth at death £287,869: probate, 25 July 1997, CGPLA Eng. & Wales

  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='julian_craster']In the following year he played the title role in the film of Marryat's famous novel Midshipman Easy. Carol Reed directed, Green saved Margaret Lockwood from bandits, and the mate was played by Harry Tate.
    And Roger Livesey played the avuncular Captain trying to restrain or rescue the impetuous Midshipman. A very reasonable film



    Steve

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    very interesting article I always from whence he came, what a varied and chequered career thanks for that.

    Regards Chris B

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    I've heard it suggested that in 1974, when Harold Wilson beat Edward Heath in the General Election, that a cadre of Right-Wingers, led by Ross McWhirter and SAS founder David Stirling, planned a military coup to lock up the elected government and install Prince Phillip as British President. Hughie Green was part of the plan, entrusted with using television to sell the idea to the masses: a latter-day Joseph Goebbels. When Wilson held a second election at the end of the year and was re-elected with a large majority, the plot fell through. I don't know if that's true, of course, but there are some highly intriguing stories.

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='ProfMarcus']I've heard it suggested that in 1974, when Harold Wilson beat Edward Heath in the General Election, that a cadre of Right-Wingers, led by Ross McWhirter and SAS founder David Stirling, planned a military coup to lock up the elected government and install Prince Phillip as British President. Hughie Green was part of the plan, entrusted with using television to sell the idea to the masses: a latter-day Joseph Goebbels. When Wilson held a second election at the end of the year and was re-elected with a large majority, the plot fell through. I don't know if that's true, of course, but there are some highly intriguing stories.


    That's the sort of story I'd expect to read on Wikipedia, but even they don't mention it



    There are various reports about McWhirter's & Stirling's plan on the web, but I can only find one place where Green also gets a mention - and that's just from someone asking if he was involved.



    Steve

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    name='ProfMarcus']I've heard it suggested that in 1974, when Harold Wilson beat Edward Heath in the General Election, that a cadre of Right-Wingers, led by Ross McWhirter and SAS founder David Stirling, planned a military coup to lock up the elected government and install Prince Phillip as British President. Hughie Green was part of the plan, entrusted with using television to sell the idea to the masses: a latter-day Joseph Goebbels. When Wilson held a second election at the end of the year and was re-elected with a large majority, the plot fell through. I don't know if that's true, of course, but there are some highly intriguing stories.


    I don't know whether you have seen it, but there was a disturbing clip from one of Hughie's shows, repeated on a fairly recent programme, where he goes into the most incredible far-right rant, and leads a rousing singalong with an in-uniform army band....I swear to you, it was like a cut-price Nuremberg Rally. I've tried You-Tube on the off-chance, but nothing. What was disturbing wasn't so much the rant, that was just a barking-mad old man, and harmless (though unpleasant) in itself but the obvious army involvement in the thing....



    EDIT: This may be the infamous performance of his 'Stand Up and Be Counted' which actually led to ITV axeing his show after a seemly interval.

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    name='Steve Crook']That's the sort of story I'd expect to read on Wikipedia, but even they don't mention it



    There are various reports about McWhirter's & Stirling's plan on the web, but I can only find one place where Green also gets a mention - and that's just from someone asking if he was involved.



    Steve


    Let me draw your attention to the book Smear: Wilson And The Secret State by Robin Ramsay and Stephen Dorill, published in 1992. It may or may not be a true representation of the facts. Will we ever know?

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    name='Steve Crook']That's the sort of story I'd expect to read on Wikipedia, but even they don't mention it



    There are various reports about McWhirter's & Stirling's plan on the web, but I can only find one place where Green also gets a mention - and that's just from someone asking if he was involved.



    Steve


    Perhaps he wasn't involved in the planning, but I can fairly easily imagine, given his beliefs coupled with his opportunism (not a pun, I swear) and lack of basic morals that he would have been the first to have volunteered to be their Goebbels had the plan come to fruition....

    Sorry, Ill of the dead and all that, but I never could abide the man.

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    I have read from other sources that he made Monica Rose's life a misery on The Sky's The Limit. She finally killed herself, poor love.

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='ProfMarcus']Let me draw your attention to the book Smear: Wilson And The Secret State by Robin Ramsay and Stephen Dorill, published in 1992. It may or may not be a true representation of the facts. Will we ever know?
    I think it's also covered in Spycatcher if you want to read about it further



    Steve

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    That story of a "plot" to launch a military coup against Harold Wilson is a load of tripe. Norris and Ross Mcwhirter (the former strangely not mentioned) may have had right-wing views, but the idea of them organising a military coup is just a loony fantasy. Have you been listening to "Spycatcher" Peter Wright ?



    And what makes this obviously a garbled fantasy, is that I have heard the same story, only with the name Hugh Carleton Greene (former Director General of the BBC) as the man who would "supervise television". This story is recounted by Tony Benn in his published diary from the 1970s.



    Clearly the rumour-mongers are getting their Greens mixed up !

    And I mean that most sincerely, folks !

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    name='oxfam1uk']That story of a "plot" to launch a military coup against Harold Wilson is a load of tripe. Norris and Ross Mcwhirter (the former strangely not mentioned) may have had right-wing views, but the idea of them organising a military coup is just a loony fantasy. Have you been listening to "Spycatcher" Peter Wright ?



    And what makes this obviously a garbled fantasy, is that I have heard the same story, only with the name Hugh Carleton Greene (former Director General of the BBC) as the man who would "supervise television". This story is recounted by Tony Benn in his published diary from the 1970s.



    Clearly the rumour-mongers are getting their Greens mixed up !

    And I mean that most sincerely, folks !


    Well, you'll forgive a member on his first day from taking issue with a Senior Member, but would you like to justify that? There are several stories extant, including the Cunard executive who was interviewed about the possibility of using the QE2 as a prison ship to hold Wilson and his Cabinet.



    It's fashionable to dismiss Harold Wilson as paranoid, but many of his so-called "delusions" seem when investigated to have a good deal of fact behind them.



    The idea of "Sir Huge" being a right-wing extremist is hilarious. I'll check TB's diaries, but if you can supply me with chapter and verse I'd be grateful.

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    The idea of "Sir Huge" being a right-wing extremist is hilarious


    Well exactly. The whole idea of a military coup is hilarious, and clearly the product of "Chinese whispers".



    I don't have T. Benn's diaries to hand, but I recall that he listed the details of the supposed plot, and mentioned "someone whose name sounded like Haricot Bean" as the guy who would control television. (Obviously a way of avoiding printing an absurd libel).

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    name='oxfam1uk']Well exactly. The whole idea of a military coup is hilarious, and clearly the product of "Chinese whispers".



    I don't have T. Benn's diaries to hand, but I recall that he listed the details of the supposed plot, and mentioned "someone whose name sounded like Haricot Bean" as the guy who would control television. (Obviously a way of avoiding printing an absurd libel).


    Sorry, but why is the idea "hilarious"? Edward Heath's Government had just been toppled by a single Trade Union, who had provoked the 3 Day week and wrought anarchy in the land. Here is Wikipedia's take:



    [edit] The 1968 Plot

    In his 1976 memoir Walking On The Water, Hugh Cudlipp recounts a meeting he arranged at the request of Cecil King, the head of the International Publishing Corporation, between King and Lord Mountbatten. The meeting took place on May 8 1968. Attending were Mountbatten, King, Cudlipp, and Sir Solly Zuckerman, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the British government.



    According to Cudlipp:



    "[Cecil] awaited the arrival of Sir Solly and then at once expounded his views on the gravity of the national situation, the urgency for action, and then embarked upon a shopping list of the Prime Minister's shortcomings...He explained that in the crisis he forsaw as being just around the corner, the Government would disintegrate, there would be bloodshed in the streets and the armed forces would be involved. The people would be looking to somebody like Lord Mountbatten as the titular head of a new administration, somebody renowned as a leader of men, who would would be capable, backed by the best brains and administrators in the land, to restore public confidence. He ended with a question to Mountbatten- would he agree to be the titular head of a new administration in such circumstances?" [7]



    Mountbatten asked for the opinion of Zuckerman, who stated that the plan amounted to treason and left the room. Mountbatten expressed the same opinion, and King and Cudlipp left[8]. On 30 May 1968 King was dismissed as the head of the International Publishing Corporation.



    It should be noted that in addition to Mountbatten's refusal to participate in King's mooted plot, there is no evidence of any other conspirators. Cudlipp himself appears to see the meeting as an example of extreme egotism on King's part[9].





    [edit] A Military Coup In 1974?

    On the BBC television programme The Plot Against Harold Wilson, broadcast on March 16, 2006 on BBC2, it was claimed there were threats of a coup d'état. Wilson told two BBC journalists, Roger Courtiour and Barrie Penrose, that he feared he was being undermined by the MI5. The first time was in the late 1960s after the Wilson Government devalued the pound sterling but the threat faded after Conservative leader Edward Heath won the election of 1970. However after a coal miners strike Heath decided to hold an election to renew his mandate to govern in February 1974 but lost narrowly to Wilson. There was again talk of a military coup, with rumours of Lord Mountbatten as head of an interregnal administration after Wilson had been deposed. In 1974 the Army occupied Heathrow Airport on the grounds of training for possible IRA terrorist action there, however Baroness Falkender (an intimate friend of Wilson) claimed that it was ordered as a practice-run for a military takeover.


    Unless Cudlipp and Zuckerman were lying, the events of 1968 occurred as stated. As for '74: on what grounds do you dismiss it? Because "It couldn't happen here"? As it happens it didn't, but that doesn't mean it wasn't mooted at a high level.

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='ProfMarcus']Sorry, but why is the idea "hilarious"? Edward Heath's Government had just been toppled by a single Trade Union, who had provoked the 3 Day week and wrought anarchy in the land. Here is Wikipedia's take:


    And how much do we rely on Wikipedia articles as being the truth?

    That first section is just relying on the memory (or opinion) of one person.



    With phrases like "Edward Heath's Government had just been toppled by a single Trade Union, who had provoked the 3 Day week and wrought anarchy in the land." I have to query your own angle on this and ask how dispassionately you can look at this subject



    Steve

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    Must say i was never a fan of mr green i thought he was most insincere.Conspiracy theories do come up whether they are true or not may never be answered but i am old enough to remember president nixon.also the man is not alive to answer to this .mind you it makes good copy

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    There have simply been too many reports in memoirs and contemporary journalism for the tales of a planned coup to be dismissed that easily. It seems ridiculous now only in hindsight, but with the state of the nation at the time, with a weak paternalist Tory party and an Old Labour government (not as left wing as it was painted, but lefter than we're used to now) the Irish troubles just kicking off, to those with more power than sense it would seem an option.

    It was heavily reported in Private Eye over the years; not a paper known for its pro-labour stance, but for stories Fleet Street won't touch.

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    name='Steve Crook']

    With phrases like "Edward Heath's Government had just been toppled by a single Trade Union, who had provoked the 3 Day week and wrought anarchy in the land." I have to query your own angle on this and ask how dispassionately you can look at this subject



    Steve


    Ah yes, mea culpa. I was using that phrase, not to express my own opinion, but the widely-held beliefs of many on the political Right in the early 70s. You'll find them set out in the works of Chapman Pincher (who seems seriously to think that Wilson and his followers were hell-bent on paving the way for a Russian takeover). Come to think of it, I read the bit about Heath being toppled by a single trade union in Leo McKern's autobiography. I should have made it clear that I don't believe anything of the sort.



    My "angle" is a desire to know what went on then, and even if possible what goes on now. And I'm "dispassionate" enough not to dismiss any theory out of hand until I've sifted it thoroughly.

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    Senior Member Country: UK Geoffers's Avatar
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    name='ProfMarcus']I've heard it suggested that in 1974, when Harold Wilson beat Edward Heath in the General Election, that a cadre of Right-Wingers, led by Ross McWhirter and SAS founder David Stirling, planned a military coup to lock up the elected government and install Prince Phillip as British President. Hughie Green was part of the plan, entrusted with using television to sell the idea to the masses: a latter-day Joseph Goebbels. When Wilson held a second election at the end of the year and was re-elected with a large majority, the plot fell through. I don't know if that's true, of course, but there are some highly intriguing stories.


    Wilson wasn't re-elected with a large majority - it was an overall majority of three, as I recall. So that part of the story, at least, seems dubious.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: UK Geoffers's Avatar
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    name='oxfam1uk']Well exactly. The whole idea of a military coup is hilarious, and clearly the product of "Chinese whispers".



    I don't have T. Benn's diaries to hand, but I recall that he listed the details of the supposed plot, and mentioned "someone whose name sounded like Haricot Bean" as the guy who would control television. (Obviously a way of avoiding printing an absurd libel).


    Assuming this was covered in the 1973-1976 edition, Benn briefly mentions David Stirling and the possibility of him leading a right-wing military coup, but there is nothing about Hugh Greene, Hughie Green or Haricot Bean, or, indeed anything about the control of television.

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