BEDDERS: Right from the start, Dave Robinson saw the potential for making videos and got behind it very quickly. Cheaply of course – they were made on such a small budget. I mean, Duran Duran were on a yacht somewhere in the Pacific; we were in a garage in Camden Town.
DAVE ROBINSON (Stiff Records boss): I loved it because you just looked through the viewfinder of the camera and you knew you were going to have something that would be really good. They were so quick and had such a natural comic routine – all of them.
SUGGS: Everything we did was infused with the genuine fun we were having; there was no side to it.
DAVE ROBINSON: Lee was always the secretive one. He would always spend a bit of time thinking about it and doing a bit of research, and would have some obscure thing he wanted to do.
LEE: Our inspirations for the videos were Monty Python, Tommy Cooper, Ian Dury, Alex Harvey, Benny Hill and Alice Cooper – anything that was interesting and intricate. I didn’t mind dressing up.
DAVE ROBINSON: The only thing was, they had a low attention span so you had to be very quick. So if you didn’t get it in the first or second take, you were done for. They’d go to the pub or disappear or someone would sell Lee a scooter out the back.
BEDDERS: Often the records and videos were two different things. The videos were often loosely related to the records, they were just fun and we bunged in every wild idea we could think of.
LEE: We were like kids in a sweet shop, doing stuff we thoroughly enjoyed. Often, the moves were made up on the spot. We’d discuss it briefly – ‘Arms go up there, then down there’ – do two rehearsals and then a take in one normally. If we hadn’t got it by the third take, we knew we weren’t gonna get it at all.
DAVE ROBINSON: The other thing was, there was always a piano on the video shoot. Mike would be playing and I’d regularly find the next single by listening to what he was doing. I’d have it in my head there and then about what the next single was going to be.
WOODY: Before the videos were made, we always used to sit in a room together and come up with lots of crazy ideas. Most of them were just jokes – it was millions of little Benny Hill sketches and ‘funnies’ that we invariably nicked from TV comedies and films we loved.
SUGGS: We’d sit around and have a mad discussion and come up with about eight pages of ideas that included spaceships and painting ourselves purple. Robbo would go through it and go, ‘No…no…no…’ Anything that cost more than a fiver would get struck off.
BEDDERS: We were brainstorming before we knew what brainstorming even meant. Some ideas were completely fantastical and unworkable, but after a few hours we’d have narrowed it down to a rough storyboard.
SUGGS: We had all kinds of wacky ideas – round shoes that had jets on them so we could fly around the room, I seem to recall. Being able to say, ‘Right, we wanna have like, the Houses of Parliament.’ ‘Is that right? Okay, next!’
BEDDERS: Carl had a famous one of having a rubber street and it would kind of be all wobbly, and you’d walk up and down on it and it would be kind of dreamlike. It would have cost an absolute fortune, so we kind of knocked that one on the head pretty quick.
SUGGS: Carl always had a million ideas when we started talking about videos, another million when we were getting things together for it, and when we were actually doing it, he had a million more. It’s like he had something bottled up inside him and suddenly the cork sprang out. He was brilliant. Out of every million ideas came 10 really good ones. And if things started flagging a bit, he was always thinking of dance routines we could do – he picked us up.
BEDDERS: Usually, we stuck with very simple themes. So in It Must Be Love, there’s a line about ‘the bees and the birds’, so we dressed Lee up in a bee costume – it was as obvious as that. I dressed up in some weird ones too. I was a nun… a flower… nice easy props to do. Before we shot anything we had a pretty good structure, then on the day we’d come up with more little ideas. It was kind of the same way we recorded music.
WOODY: We never used any creative directors – it was just our ideas filmed very simply by Robbo, who had a team of people who could make them real.
DAVE ROBINSON: The videos were usually shot in one day, so we didn’t have long to do all the bits and bobs we wanted to. Saying that, a lot of them were completely off the wall.
BEDDERS: Because we used to do them really cheaply, we didn’t go off to some tropical island somewhere – we did them in the garage or basement of Stiff. Most of them were done in Hoxton. We’d just let the camera roll, mess around and see what came out.
SUGGS: We always wanted to make them somewhere we knew – we didn’t want to start looking for locations in South London. So it was natural really – we liked mucking around locally and going to the pub afterwards. It wasn’t really a conscious thing. Plus it was all very cheap and cheerful – the only cost was the bumblebee costume and the policeman’s outfits.
LEE: Each video cost about £9,000, took two days to shoot and, after editing, could be shown all mover the world, which saved a lot of time, travel and expense.
DAVE ROBINSON: My attitude was they were a commercial for the song. We had several singles that were slow to start but when the video went to TV, that’s when people really got the message. They were great marketing aids. The videos played a big part in helping establish the individual personalities of the band; each member had developed into a very recognisable character in the public’s eye. Whenever a new single was in the horizon, there was always just as much anticipation about what the video would look like, and I can’t think of another band that had that back then.
SUGGS: I remember talking to Paul Weller early on and he was saying how he hated making videos because he felt self-conscious. I thought we were lucky – ours were just seven show-offs all mucking about trying to outdo each other. We were lucky to have so many extroverts in the band. Carl was a very good mover. Lee was very visual, so we’d always give him the most foolish roles. And Mike, ironically, because he’s such an introverted character, was absolutely brilliant at encapsulating funny shapes. None of us worried about taking the piss out of ourselves. If you’re self-conscious about looking a bit stupid, it shows. But if you’re 110 per cent absorbed in the idea where you don’t give a fuck, you get something else. You get something transcendent, like Tommy Cooper.
CHRIS: There were certain little techniques that we developed. One of them was that we’d all dress the same in the video. We’d decide on something that we were all going to wear, which I think is quite good because you stop being so anonymous. In a way you ARE becoming anonymous because you all look the same but it gives you a sort of group identity. Another thing we’d do sometimes was Suggs would be a kind of narrator. He’d be telling the story. So in Our House for example, we’re all dressed in cloth caps but he’d be dressed different and that kind of separated him from us.
DAVE ROBINSON: There was nothing really radical about them. I was always conscious that we needed to have them played and so we did pretty much everything we wanted to, but there wasn’t any attempt to radicalise anything.
LEE: One of the most enjoyable things was coming up with the dance movements. They were normally worked out on the spot while the camera or sound man were ‘checking the gate’.
WOODY: To be honest, when we were making them I wanted to stick my head in the sand and wait for it all to go away; they filled me with dread and I didn’t enjoy them one bit. I liked being in the background and if a camera went anywhere near me I used to freeze like a rabbit in the headlights. I didn’t really like being upfront or getting involved; just put me behind a drum kit and I’m perfectly happy. In fact, I should never really have been in the band because I’m not designed for showing off – and being in Madness required a lot of showing off.
JOHN MILLS (video producer): Once an idea was agreed, I’d find and organise locations, get a selection of costumes and plenty of props, then book the crew. On the day of the shoot, the band would improvise around the scenarios. There was always an air of experimentation – let’s try this and if it works, develop it. The band was extremely democratic and rarely argued about how to proceed. The process of shooting was interesting; once the band were enthused, there was no stopping them, but if they felt it wasn’t working, proceedings would grind to a halt while they figured out how to get things back on track. This could be frustrating but was worth putting up with when they came up with something special. The band gave the impression that everything was off-the-cuff and casual, but they had high standards and each of them put a lot of thought into what they were doing.
DAVE ROBINSON: They were a very talented bunch and always gave their best in front of the camera. When you look at most music videos, you can tell which band members aren’t enjoying it and really don’t want to be there, but Madness gave their all every time.
SUGGS: We put a lot of effort into them because we were all fighting for space. The costumes got more bizarre and extreme; it was only when we ran out of things to dress up in that our career fizzled out.
For Madness’s first single on 2-Tone, there was no official video. Instead, the band used their performance from Top of the Pops on Thursday September 6 1979.
CHRIS: Suggs bought a purple suit for the occasion and Chalky and Toks gave him the nickname ‘Coco’ because they said he looked like Coco the Clown.
SUGGS: We were very, very excitable and came down for high-jinx at the subsidised BBC bar, only to bump into Woody’s mum, Annie, who was the floor manager. Of all the people in authority! So we did behave ourselves… on that occasion at least.
CHRIS: I think a lot of the other acts were pre-recorded or video. I can’t really remember any of them to tell the truth, although I do remember we were watching the Crusaders. I think they kept us in a dark room until we were due onstage.
WOODY: For me it was being in the same studio as Stix Hooper from the Crusaders. I remember telling Randy Crawford that he was a hero of mine and had all of the Crusaders albums. She was very nice, and agreed Stix was a great drummer. The Rutz were really friendly too, especially Malcolm the singer.
BEDDERS: Lee was wearing this fantastic double-breasted suit and a bow tie. He came up to me before we went on and said, ‘Is it working?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you look great.’ He said, ‘No, is it working?’ And he flicked a button in his pocket and the bow tie lit up. He was a performer right from the start.
LEE: I remember thinking that the studio was tiny, contrary to what came across on the screen.
CHRIS: Yeah, that struck me too. They used some sort of slight wide-angle lens to give it a very slight fish eye effect and make everything look larger. When I watched it at home I thought, ‘Wow it looks really big in that studio.’
SUGGS: At the start, I had a little plastic saxophone that fell out of my pocket. Lee picked it up and still has it to this day.
EDWINA (Suggs’s mum): I remember sitting watching this boy of mine on Top Of The Pops with a neighbour and I’m clutching a cushion to me. He had a little toy trumpet in his top pocket and he’s dancing about and it fell out, and I knew that he was so nervous. It’s amazing. He was talking about becoming a council gardener and then the next thing I know, they’ve got a record leaping up the charts. It gave him a direction, a purpose, a family.
BEDDERS: You can see our faces, just laughing at how fantastic it was – the idea of putting us lot on television. It was just amazing to be on TV and see how it all worked. Knowing us, we probably just went home on the Tube afterwards.
CHRIS: Getting on that first time was one of the most exciting things ever. It was only later, by the 23rd time, that it got slightly tedious.
BEDDERS: When you’re that age, you just get taken along in the tide of it all, ‘Oh look you’re on TV’. But I think we felt we had qualified as pop stars when people started saying, ‘I saw you on Top Of The Pops.’ Certainly my mum and dad were like, ‘Maybe this isn’t such a bad profession to be in after all.’
MIKE:It was unbelievable. We were a bunch of nobodies living in nowhere land and suddenly we were on the telly and in the Hit Parade. Fantastic.
CARL: When you start rehearsing in a cellar somewhere under a dentist’s you never expect in a million years that you’ll release a record, that it’ll sell, and that one day you’ll be on Top of the Pops. I was glued to that programme every week as a kid watching Gary Glitter, Marc Bolan and The Sweet, so I was proud to be on there. We knew we’d made it then.
CHRIS: When we later did Complete Madness, I suggested buying the footage from Top of the Pops because we hadn’t done a proper video. So we bought the rights and used that instead.
CHRIS: For our first-ever official video, we got in this American guy, Chuck Statler, who had previously worked with Devo on Satisfaction, and who travelled around with his crew in a Transit van, christened ‘The Chuck Wagon’.
CHUCK STATLER (director): I used to tour with three other guys – a second cameraman, an editor and a sound man – so there were four of us and our gear. We’d rent a wagon and then we were off, traipsing around after the band and catching what we could. Exploring different types of music and cultures was my main motivation, so we worked like documentary film-makers, without a lot of staging. What interested me was using the elements that were on hand and natural, so most of it was done on the run. At that point, Madness were a relatively new band and had only played out on the club circuit for about eight months. They’d just finished recording their album for Stiff Records and were really on a pretty tight schedule, so we went out on tour with them and did five dates in northern England.
BEDDERS: It was literally just four people following us around on tour and filming us coming out of a barbershop or whatever. It was great and only cost two grand.
CHRIS: It was filmed in locations all over England and basically we stopped every time we saw a good location. The shot of us doing the Nutty Train was somewhere in Leeds. We literally stopped, got off the bus and did the walk down the road. We didn’t give a fuck how silly we looked. It all felt really strong.
CHUCK STATLER: At that point, the basis of their music was ska and Blue Beat, which is really just dance music and rhythm, and a lot of their followers were avid dancers. So we built the video around the dancing and the dance moves.
SUGGS: None of it was really choreographed. We just went back to London, did basic footage of us playing in a pub and just clipped all the best bits together.
MIKE: The ‘live’ bits were recorded in the Hope & Anchor, where we did a lot of our early gigs. We had to take a few days off the 2-Tone Tour to record it.
CARL: This was the period when I was still left in the dressing room for the videos.
MIKE: Yeah, we always had Carl on a separate reel…
CARL: …just in case the cutting room floor was looking inviting.
CHRIS: He was in the band, but in the videos he didn’t perform with us, but that was all about to change.
DAVE ROBINSON: The joy of Chuck was he was very quick. I think we made the One Step Beyond and Bed and Breakfast Man videos in one day.
CARL: Chuck was very good…
MIKE: …he was always up for spontaneous this and that.
CHRIS: During the shoot, Chuck and his crew adopted a fan of ours called Faron who was a monosyllabic young man – he’s the one in bed at the beginning. The video also featured ‘Prince Nutty’, who was a fan-come-minder at the time. Chalky does a quick dance with Toks, the other roadie, leaning on a wall behind him; Toks refused to dance unless he was paid. There were also some bits that didn’t get used – I seem to remember running up and down a street festooned with sheets hung out to dry.
CHRIS: We shot the video in the Dublin Castle, in the very same room that we used to play in. The stage was much too small to fit us all on, so we used the Stiff carpenter to rebuild it especially. It was a mostly live performance, and the first video with Dave Robinson at the helm.
DAVE ROBINSON: I was running a record company so didn’t really have the time to spare, but we didn’t have the budget to hire directors. I’d also seen how they worked – taking copious amounts of notes and then doing something entirely different to suit themselves. I watched a couple in action and thought, ‘What’s so difficult about that?’ For My Girl, we had very little time so I shot it in two hours. It’s not very well lit and we did it very quickly and simply – we didn’t have any professionals working on it.
CHRIS: Robbo got us all to sing a line each, a device that we were to use a lot in the future.
DAVE ROBINSON: Although this wasn’t one of the greatest or trendiest videos, it had the feel and style of Madness during that period. While I was shooting I thought, ‘God, this band are going to be huge. They have everything – the songs, the style – and the public are really going to relate to them.’
CHRIS: Originally, the record company had said, ‘We don’t want to do a video for Night Boat’, then at the last minute Robbo decided we would. We were just about to go to America so we had to do it at 12 o’clock at night. By now we’d now got the hang of it and had lots of ideas such as going up the Thames in a tug boat (had to wait until Uncle Sam) and going to Egypt (had to wait for Duran Duran), but due to the lack of time we used a studio with a moody background of the desert. It’s a sort of instruments video, so there’s not many ideas, but we had such fun making it – we were all a bit drunk. I always think it’s crap but everybody loves it; I suppose we’re all having a laugh.
MIKE: It was actually meant to be serious, with the proper pyramids and that, but they ended up making fools of us.
SUGGS: We went to Bermans & Nathans in Camden. They were a very serious costumers – it wasn’t like some crummy old fancy dress shop – and for whatever reason they took a shine to us and let us take whatever we wanted. So we got these very authentic pith helmets and khaki shirts and shorts. Dave had gone to the enormous expense of covering the floor with what must have been an inch of sand. There were two potted plants and Dave’s dog running around to add a bit of atmosphere. I thought I’d jump off the top of a ladder and land in the middle of the set to look like I’d just dropped out of space.
CHRIS: Because we were flying out the next day we didn’t have much time so we felt under tremendous pressure. We were really pissed, all the rucksacks had beer in, the background was wobbling and when Lee blew the sax someone would shake the tree.
LEE: I really like the el cheapo Night Boat video. The pyramids in the background are wobbling all over the show, we’re clearly not in the desert at all but we’re pretending we are, and Robbo’s dog is in it. It’s a very British thing – the sets are falling down, there’s a dog on the loose but carry on regardless. Don’t let the side down.
WOODY: It was all about not taking ourselves too seriously and having a laugh. We grew up with the Keystone Cops, Buster Keaton and Benny Hill on the telly. That was the entertainment that was around us at the time, so if you’re not worrying about which suit you’re wearing on a boat with models around you, that’s what you do.
CHRIS: Before shooting we were presented with silver discs for the One Step Beyond album and had a few drinks. This is what gave us the energy to run all over the place. During the filming we had an idea that we used a lot… basically slowing down the music and film so that when you run it at normal speed we all tend to move in slow motion which nullified the effect. At the end Bedders hams it up as the thirsty soldier and gets a playful prod in the behind. ‘Who was it?’ he said half serious. No one owned up. The final film revealed an Adidas trainer as the guilty party. Stand up Lee Thompson and be judged (oh, you are standing up). The rascally Dave Robinson had to pay over the odds due to the fact that our arguing and wrangling meant we had to film late at night – what we call in the trade a ‘ghoster’.
SUGGS: It’s now passed into the rhyming slang dictionary. If you have a giro, you can cash your Night Boat. Night Boat To Cairo = giro. The proudest moment of my career.
CHRIS: We filmed most of the video, including that famous flying sequence, inside and outside Islip Street School in Kentish Town. A few yards to the left of it is the pub that we all went to for our lunch break after leaving Lee trussed securely up hanging from a crane. It used to be called the Oxford Arms and had a stripper every Thursday (or so someone told me). Further on is a grassy knoll – the second most famous, after the one in Dallas – and a play area where we filmed some kids playing football near a block of flats called the Forties, which Lee lived in as a kid when I first met him. There were lots of kids running riot – kids from the ‘hood.
DAVE ROBINSON: It was filmed at the school because several of the band had actually gone there. They were very happy that some of their old boys hadn’t ended up in Wormwood Scrubs and had actually got a livelihood.
LEE: It was good to keep things local… very local.
WOODY: Shooting the video was really quick – it only took an afternoon.
CARL: If you notice, in the school gym scenes I’m wearing a fake hand. I don’t know why.
MIKE: My missus was there somewhere in the background, sitting on the grass somewhere to the left: ‘Bloody rubbish. What is this?’
CHRIS: Lee had already started giving himself the best roles in the videos.
CARL: Flying up in the air was definitely his own idea.
LEE: I’d seen it done by Peter Gabriel at the Drury Lane Theatre one night when me and Chris bunked in to see Genesis. He was singing A Flower? and he had this harness on and suddenly something went BOOM! and he flew through the smoke on a wire. I thought, ‘One day, I would really love to do that.’
CHRIS: I remember him going on about doing the same thing when he got the chance. Little did we know.
LEE: The thing that immediately came to mind was someone in a big baggy pair of trousers in a high wind taking off, so I suggested to Robbo to get a crane in.
DAVE ROBINSON: Lee said he’d seen somebody do some trapeze something and said, ‘Is there any way I could fly in this video?’ I said, ‘Probably not.’ He was always wanting to do obscure things.
CHRIS: Lee was insistent he wore the baggiest pair of trousers we could find, so we got these trousers from Bermans & Nathans and they were humungous – 64-inch waist. They’d belonged to Peter Ustinov, the great man itself. It was a great honour, even though we had to let them out for Thommo (ha ha).
DAVE ROBINSON: A few people thought the flying scene couldn’t be done, but eventually I found this circus guy who’d done James Bond movies with this kind of trapeze idea. He said, ‘Oh yes, you can do that; you just use a crane and some wires.’ I just thought, ‘Hmm. Let’s make sure the strapping is nice and tight.’
CARL: So we turned up on the day of the shoot and saw this crane, but we didn’t know why it was there.
DAVE ROBINSON: Lee used to keep everything secret from everybody, so he hadn’t told the rest of the band what he was up to, and we certainly weren’t going to tell them. So the crane arrived and the group were none the wiser – they didn’t know that Lee was gonna slap on this thing and do it. It meant when he took off they were genuinely amazed. He went sailing past Suggs’s nose and I was shouting at the crane driver, ‘Get him up! Get him up!’
CHRIS: He was up there on these quite thick wires, so I thought, ‘This is gonna look so two-bob – you’re gonna be able to see how he’s doing it’. But that was the fantastic thing; we went to see the rushes and you couldn’t see them.
LEE: Yeah, the wires not showing was a real coup.
DAVE ROBINSON: There’s a clip of Suggs looking up, totally amazed, as he starts flying – none of the band had seen him doing it.
WOODY: It was just such a shock when he suddenly started flying. From where I was sitting, I honestly couldn’t see the wires, so it was like, ‘Fantastic!’
SUGGS: You can see me going, ‘I hope he doesn’t fall on my head.’
DAVE ROBINSON: I remember being being really impressed that he managed to keep his equilibrium and his sax in his mouth. He’d never even tried it out, so it was really something else. Particularly as we found out later that he was in agony.
LEE: The crane driver was on Guinness and had scars all over the place because of a prior accident. I said, ‘I don’t wanna come back looking like you Quasimodo.’ He put the harness on, they winched me up and that’s when I felt a very sharp pain – it really made my eyes water. What it was, they’d caught part of my scrotum in the strapping and made a love bite effect round me nuts. It was like a painful itch that could not be scratched. Then he fucked off to the pub for 20 minutes and left me hanging there above this spiked fence. So we did the business – three or four times, I think – I came down, took the thing off, got home and it was black and blue. I went to the doctors just for a check-up. I asked him to take away the bruising but leave the swelling (laughs). It was a painful experience, but it was worth it.
DAVE ROBINSON: The only thing was, the cameraman didn’t shut the magazine on the camera properly, so we nearly lost it all.
CHRIS: There was a hair in the gate or something.
DAVE ROBINSON: Jeff Baynes was the cameraman, and his assistant forgot to close the magazine that the film was in and the light got in. So very little of the flying stuff actually came out. What ended up in the final video was us doing the run-through – although you can’t tell it’s a practice run.
CHRIS: Lee originally wanted to have six dummies which represented us, and he was going to fly through the air and kick their heads off. But we thought, no, Top Of The Pops would never show that, so we toned it down and they just appear in the pub scene instead.
DAVE ROBINSON: People who interviewed me later on said, ‘Where was the net?’ And I said, ‘Net?’
LEE: I’d demanded some sort of safety net but Robbo said he couldn’t afford it. Typical Robbo – but it ended up being the business.
DAVE ROBINSON: Although it was simply shot in a school playground, more people probably saw that video than anything. People would even show it on the news.
CHRIS: This video was really important as we started using a lot of other elements, rather than just playing live. It was the first one we did that everybody noticed and we became known for our videos as much as our music. From then on, everyone was saying, ‘Have you seen the new Madness video?’ It established us as video legends.
ADAM ANT: Many videos at this time were not about anything except allowing directors to try this or that technique in order to make the band look exciting. The only other band doing anything remotely interesting in their videos were Madness, whose videos made me laugh. I considered them the opposition at the time – especially Lee, who was very funny.
LEE: Looking back, it’s a shame I never did a complete somersault because then it really would’ve looked like, ‘Hey, he’s doing it with no hands!’ That’s stuck with me ever since. Unfortunately, there isn’t a wire thick enough to hold me up now.
CHRIS: Sometimes the best things are the ones that have nothing to do with the song, like Lee flying. People all remember it. It was a very important point for us – we realised we had to monopolise on the old wire-hanging.
LEE: There doesn’t really have to be a reason for anything, it just has to look really good. People think me flying was some sort of expensive process but it wasn’t… it was just a crane!
CARL: We still meet kids who are now grown up and go, ‘I was in that video – that was my school.’
CHRIS: This video was a bit different as we’d started separating Suggs from the band a bit, getting him wearing a different colour suit etc.
MIKE: The video was a bit dark and moody for my tastes.
CARL: It was a bit dull and unimaginative.
CHRIS: I’m not sure if people got the significance of Mike being blacked up at the end.
LEE: I don’t really remember much about shooting it; I think it was all shot in the same bar. I do remember we weren’t allowed to touch the drinks – in fact, I think they marked the optics to see if anything had been taken.
DAVE ROBINSON: We shot a kind of fun interesting worldwide consciousness video using a cafe they used to frequent.
CARL: I did enjoy making the video – it was a lot of fun…
MIKE: …and we had a nice bit of chicken lunch thrown in.
CHRIS: We were stumped for visual ideas so decided to use a montage of various 70s and early 80s film clips featuring Star Wars, George Best etc. We suggested a few of the images to use and when it was being edited, I suggested ‘more cuts than Friday the 13th’. So the speed of cutting between the clips gets faster and faster. All we had to do then was walk round Kenwood Park looking moody in cowboy outfits, then eat a meal in the Venus Cafe on Golborne Road, which was actually our production meeting. This was followed up by an afternoon banquet scene somewhere else. The easiest video ever made.
CHRIS: For this one, we stood playing in a shop window in Bowmans in Camden High Street, while a bemused crowd gathered outside. Bedders looks well pissed off because we’re wearing grey make-up, which he didn’t want to wear. It never really showed up on the finished film anyway. But it did show up that he was sorely miffed. Ha ha!
MIKE: Robbo was also worried it was all looking a bit doomy, so we had to have a little bit of sunshine in there too.
CHRIS: He was also trying to build Suggs up as some sort of sex symbol, so he put him in a bed. Suggs wanted to wear pyjamas but Dave was like, ‘No no…’
DAVE ROBINSON: This video was a little more serious and a less slapstick, and also nearly a minute longer than the others. It had a slightly sombre feel but I enjoyed it a lot – we had to do a lot of setups in the shop window. There was a lot more to do and it was probably one of our more professional videos.
DAVE ROBINSON: At the start, a piano was to hit the ground just a few inches away from Mike. There was a slim chance the crane driver lowering it would misjudge things, so we had a couple of guys standing by, ready to whisk him out of the way pronto if things went wrong.
CHRIS: The video was inspired by Fred Astaire walking on the ceiling plus Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Kops – it was a kitchen sink production. Because I had kids, I had to say the line, ‘I’ve got a wife and three kids you know.’ I asked someone to hire a guitar shaped like a gun that I’d seen it but it was unavailable, so we used the ‘Super Yob’ guitar, which had once been owned by Dave Hill of Slade. The video was later seen by Marco from Adam And The Ants who bought it.
SUGGS: It’s a favourite video, if not a favourite song. The images are good like the piano dropping out of the sky, me dressed as the burglar, policemen hitting each other over the head; it’s slapstick. Without meaning to do so at the time, we were portraying Englishness a bit like the silent films – say the Keystone Cops… things that are indigenous to the time
LEE: For the shoot, we got our hands on authentic coppers’ uniforms. Now, can you imagine the fun we had out on the streets in them, truncheons and everything?
SUGGS: We had to go around in a van with half a dozen half-baked ideas and jump out at traffic lights and muck about as policemen. Robbo realised our attention span was very short, so if we weren’t enjoying it we wouldn’t do another take – we’d just jump in the van go off somewhere else. We were just laughing our bollocks off and taking the piss out of each other and having a great time.
LEE: We discovered The Clash were rehearsing in a half-derelict place right around the corner from Wessex Studios, where Clive and Alan had a studio and where Stiff had picked the location for us to run about. So we were all in these police uniforms and I particularly remember Carl bursting the door open: ‘Nobody move! It’s the police!’ I was behind him and can’t remember who else was there, but they definitely weren’t on the ground floor because I had these big clown shoes on that wouldn’t allow me to go up these steps. I think Topper fell from his drum kit and went straight into the Gents. All you could hear was the sound of doors slamming and toilets flushing.
CARL: They were gutted; they lost all their stash.
LEE: They never spoke to us for five years. It must have been good gear, eh? The fun we had.
CHRIS: I don’t know if that story is actually true – it’s a bit like one of Thommo’s tall tales. Yes, we did have policemen’s outfits on when we did the video, but we were filming all day, until about 4am, so I can’t verify it because I certainly wasn’t there. As the song itself says: ‘Pass the blame but don’t blame me.’ I’ll have to ask Suggs exactly when it happened.
LEE: I came up with the idea of a funeral setting for the video. Whenever there was a black comedy movie on at your independent cinema, I was along to see it; Arsenic And Old Lace, Entertaining Mr Sloane and The Anniversary – films like that. Maybe that’s why.
BEDDERS: The video also saw an appearance from Labi Siffre himself, who gave his blessing on our version, and was heard to say he’d like to do one of our songs. Oh, and Lee played the bee and Woody played the bird.
LEE: That was the final straw altogether. Dave Robinson was wandering around giving people costumes, and I was just thinking, ‘What am I in for now?’ Then he says, ‘And you’re the bumble bee Lee’. I just thought, ‘Right, that’s it! This is the last time I’m getting suckered as the idiot’. Of course the video was great – it was the business.
CHRIS: Originally, I wasn’t going to play guitar in the swimming pool. Lee wanted to be underwater, so he tried jumping in this pond, but it didn’t look very good. So we went to this hotel and I was just going to stand on the side while he went under. Then I thought, ‘I’ll go in with him.’ The only problem was, the guitar kept pulling me up as it was wooden, so I put two lead diving weights in my back pockets – but they nearly dragged me under. I thought I was gonna die.
NIGEL DICK (Stiff press officer): When the guitar came back from the shoot there was still water inside. We were horrified because we’d rented it.
CHRIS: Dave Robinson desperately tried to dry it with a hair dryer but the neck was really bent – it was ruined. We sent it back but the rental house said, ‘The neck’s like a banana’, so Stiff had to buy it. It subsequently appeared in a lot of Stiff videos with other acts and also on Top of The Pops.
NIGEL DICK: It lingered in a cupboard for months if not years. I eventually plucked up the courage to ask if I could use it and was told I could keep it.
LEE: In the end, the video was one of my favourites because of the basic storyline and the simpleness of ideas coming over strong on film.
CARL: I like Lee in the grave scene. And I like myself running in front of hearse, which I thought was quite funny.
SUGGS: The image that sticks in the mind is when we’re all dressed in black in the white studio.
CHRIS: We’d got some black turtle neck jumpers to go on the Little & Large Show, and I thought they were quite good, so we wore them for the video too. It’s what you call ‘styling’ these days, which costs a fortune.
CHRIS: For the video, we went to this house in Hollylodge Estate, NW5 – a location Lee had suggested, which was another of his childhood addresses – and knocked on a few doors. We finally got permission for Carl to be seen coming out, after we had parted with £50. Carl was excellent as the harassed businessman type who stresses himself up, up, up and away. We also had hours of fun driving around London shouting at people from a real London bus, that we’d hired, with Lee as the conductor. We did get a few old ladies hailing it, so we collected a few passengers and pennies on the way, which went towards the budget.
CARL: I was made up to look older, and while we were making it I went into a shop to buy something, carrying The Times. I just squiggled on the cheque and they didn’t even check it cos I looked like a middle-aged sensible businessman.
MIKE: It was a shame the BBC didn’t play it more, because we were getting good at making videos, and this was a fine example.
CHRIS: We did film an entirely different version of us performing it, which never got used at all.
Filmed in Great Yarmouth, at a funfair whose owners were friends with Lee’s family.
CHRIS: This video was one of my favourites because everything that we filmed ended up on the flickering 20″ screen. There was nothing on the old cutting room floor.
DAVE ROBINSON: We spent around £12,000, which was a big budget for us really; the rest of them we shot as quickly as possible. I remember there wasn’t a great deal of catering, it was the local McDonald’s – we were firmly in independent record company land.
LEE: Doris, my grandmother, lived in Great Yarmouth and put me in contact with the owners of the fairground to work out times/schedules for the shoot. My dad got to speak to them first, as he was living there at the time and it was out of season time for the fairground staff so it was convenient. Stiff got the coach and video crew up there, and us of course. The rest as they say, was a right jolly-up.
CHRIS: Dave had got these little things called zap guns. They were like little video cameras about four inches square with fixed legs and they had four minutes of film. They were kind of developed in the war. So we did some of the video on that.
CARL: I like the bit where me, Lee and Mike are dressed as women dancing. That’s really funny. And I really like the shot where Suggs is on the helter-skelter with the flag.
MIKE: I remember admiring that one from afar too.
CARL: Do you remember, Bedders was too scared to go on the rollercoaster?
MIKE: Well, they hadn’t used it all year; it had been closed all winter and they’d opened up a week early just so we could use it. On we went before it was even tested – it was a bit risky. I thought, ‘Instead of actually going on the bloody thing, can’t we just put the camera on and send it round filming us here?’
SUGGS: We went round on that circular roller coaster about 54 fucking times.
WOODY: One of the best memories I’ve got is Robbo going on with us and his wallet and all his money fell out of his pockets. It was just hysterical because he lost every bean, and you very rarely see Dave Robinson part with any money.
SUGGS: It was the first time I’d seen any of his money.
CARL: It was probably ours anyway, which he hadn’t paid us.
CHRIS: The Joke Shop was Escapade in Camden High Street, a regular source for props, costumes, gags, etc.
CARL: The barber’s shop was Anastasi’s in Muswell Hill.
CHRIS: Other stuff was filmed at Denyer House in Highgate Road – another of Lee’s old addresses. Dave Robinson really didn’t want to film it in a chemist, but we eventually did it in one just off Kilburn Park road. The girl in it who Suggs talks to was Clare Muller, who used to take lots of our photos. She was really small, so she had to stand on a box.
NIGEL DICK (video producer): I organised the chemist’s shop/joke shop and rented all those costumes. It was done on a piece of paper which Dave had in his back pocket, with no writing, no script or pre-production meetings. I had to ring the bloke who owned the joke shop and do the deal so he’d close the store for two hours while we lit the set and shot it.
HECTOR WALKER (band assistant): On the second day of filming, I remember Matthew Sztumpf’s daughters, Hannah and Chloe, sitting at his desk listening to story tapes on his Walkman as the band and crew gathered ready for a day’s work.
CHRIS: We had a saying from Monty Python, which was, ‘It’s your funny.’ So if someone came up with an idea that was rather ludicrous, they would have to do it. In this one, Suggs really wanted to have people dressed as temptation and little devils, but I didn’t notice him in one of those stupid green suits.
LEE: It was getting more serious, in a childish sort of way.
DAVE ROBINSON: People remember the humour in videos like House of Fun long after they forget the good-looking haircuts.
Last Monday Madness headed west to Shepherds Bush for the first of two days’ filming. It’s for the latest in a long line of legendary videos; this time, Driving In My Car. The first location was appropriately enough, a garage. Madness work within a framework of organised chaos – someone sorts out the different locations and props; camera crew, Madness director Dave Robinson decides what to do after they’ve arrived. They work with the confidence of people who’ve already made a whole stack of brill videos and see no reason why they should stop making them even better. Patience, professionalism and nutty ideas are the keynotes. Barso and Chas work out a routine involving a couple of spanners while Chrissy Boy suggests camera angles and Lee gets loopy with an oxygen nozzle. Even the costumes are individually adapted: only Madness could instantly work out seven different ways of wearing identical boiler suits. All the ideas are funnelled through Dave Robinson and he makes sure the cameras start to roll at the appropriate moments. ‘We’ve got seven different directors at the moment. As soon as we start moving they can be seven actors.’ Wherever they work, Madness attract crowds and this Monday was no exception. Autographs were constantly requested and provided with good humour, crowds of onlookers smiled. When they were driving in their car through the streets of London, the friendly, amazed and enthusiastic reactions of people passing on the pavement and in cars were testimony to the fact that Madness hold almost as secure a place in the nation’s hearts as Princess Di or Morecambe and Wise. ‘Sound’s running!’ ‘Lights!’ ‘Let them roll!’
Neil Tennant, Smash Hits, 1982
CHRIS: I got the traffic warden outfit made especially for Lee, but because it wasn’t one of his ‘things’ he wasn’t too keen to wear it. It had little lights that came out the side and everything; what more did he want? I also got the hats made that spelled out M-A-D-N-E-S-S.
CARL: We were really into those little details.
WOODY: The idea of the vibraphone solo being played on the skeleton was nicked from The Goodies.
MIKE: We filmed it in a garage down Goldhawk Road. I’ve got good memories about making it – it was good fun.
CHRIS: Me, Carl and Bedders had appeared in a Fun Boy Three video, so we got them a small role in ours as a way of saying thanks, and they very kindly came along.
TERRY HALL (Fun Boy Three):We were asked to make a cameo appearance, standing on the side of the road holding a sign that said, ‘Coventry.’ It was great fun – very slapstick.
LEE: Driving In My Car was a good example of where the video was better than the song. We had a couple like that by the end.
BEDDERS: The video is one of my favourites because we reached new heights of choreography…
WOODY: …and there was a lovely Jacuzzi.
CARL: The Jacuzzi parts were shot down at a place belonging to Victor Lownes, the Playboy fella. It was the first Jacuzzi in England apparently.
CHRIS: We filmed other bits at this grand old house. The old boy who owned it was sitting there in his kitchen while we were causing chaos.
MIKE: It was another good video – possibly one of the best.
SUGGS: On the day of filming, we ended up ad-libbing about 50 per cent of it.
WOODY: The knocking-on-the-door bit where somebody comes out, goes, ‘Where are they?’ And the others sneak in and close the door… that’s pure Fred Flintstone. We stole lots of ideas from the Keystone Cops and Benny Hill.
LEE: Unlike the Baggy Trousers video, the harness they used to make me fly was made of leather and metal and bits of foam, so it was quite comfortable.
CHRIS: For my guitar solo, I thought, ‘I’ll do a Thommo.’ So we had a young kid with a tennis racquet, then a rocker from the 50s, a 60s Beatles fan and finally a 70s glam rock star. I was supposed to represent the spirit of rock and roll; a wild trip through time, maaaan.
MIKE: I remember we had to hang around for hours while Chris got ready.
CARL: If you look carefully, at one point I’m dancing like Kevin Rowland and taking the mickey out of him.
The terraced house scenes in the video are shot outside No47 Stephenson Street in North London.
MARISA MERRY (resident of Stephenson Street): I remember the band having races on our bikes up and down the street and at the end of the day, the crew bought all the kids fish and chips for tea.
WOODY: This was one of our best videos; I just think it’s wonderful.
CHRIS: Myself and Suggs sat down and created this little masterpiece and actually drew out some of the scenes. I thought the idea of us being in prison would be really good. The trouble was, Robbo had seen this advert where a car gets chucked out of a plane on a parachute and he kind of got the rights, or so he said. So we were rehearsing and he turned up and he was going on about this ad and I said, ‘Look Dave, I’ve already written a flippin’ idea for the video.’ He had this kind of hamper to reward us or something and he threw it on the floor. And I said, ‘Sorry to have hampered your plans.’ He was livid. It was a great idea – but everyone was coming up with good ideas. In the end, Dave cackled merrily at the idea of Lee being cast against type as the jailer.
CARL: I thought it was a very good video. I liked the dark set and the chalkboard.
BEDDERS: The big dance scene was based around a Busby Berkley-style routine. We’d probably seen one of his films that week.
CHRIS: The house that Carl comes out from to greet Suggs as the paraffin lamp (tramp) is in Haverstock Hill, NW3, just one of the many startling innovative scenes from this video. I also had this vision of some of us being buried in the ground up to the waist, transformed into plants. In my mind’s eye, it would look creepy and dark. In reality we could only get cheapo outfits, I had to dig the holes myself and we were dressed as flowers playing cards. Duran Duran did Blue Moon on Monday and it was all shot so beautifully and there were people buried in the ground properly. Still, our one was funnier. In the end, it was all down to casting.
JOHN WYNNE (producer): We went for this meeting with the record company and the video people to get ideas. On the way there, Lee was saying to me, ‘I’ve got an idea. We’re all in the back of a van which gets pushed out the back of a plane and parachutes down to the ground.’ Because he’d just done a parachute drop in America – that’s where the idea came from. And the looks that went between our management, the record company and everybody else: ‘Are you mad, Lee? There’s no way possible they’re ever going to insure seven members in a vehicle dropped from 20,000ft!’ ‘Oh, I think we could.’ ‘Shut up Lee!’
SUGGS: We didn’t have a storyline or plot – all we knew was that we wanted to have lots of dancing and action because it fitted the song. In the end we bought a commercial from France or somewhere, of a van being pushed out of a plane, and built the video around that. Then we just joggled the camera a bit.
CHRIS: We had a lot of fun filming this in an airport somewhere.
CARL: Before the video, the choir all said a prayer again, which was quite a poignant moment.
CHRIS: They put us in the van with a camera and they had a bit of a shock when they looked at the film because there were a couple of moonies.
CHRIS: It was Lee’s idea to have Mike’s arms getting longer and longer at the start. He said it was because Mike was distancing himself from the group; quite deep really. Lee and Carl also got the Stiff carpenter to build this piano out of balsa wood that they could burst out of. They gave him all kinds of speed to keep him up to make it in time. The idea for us to be in Suggs’s head came from Lee. He said it was like the sperm in the Woody Allen film, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask). The other thing was, Robbo didn’t want Suggs to wear sunglasses; ‘Take the sunglasses off Suggs,’ he’d say. So in this one he does, but he’s got these funny little fake eyes underneath. Ha! The rocket on Lee’s back was meant to be a reference to the B-side, Fireball XL5. We had it made at great expense, then the makers said, ‘Oh, we need it for an exhibition.’ We never got it back. Mike later went on holiday to Mexico, and there it was in the Hard Rock Café. We also had special pac-a-macs made with the Sun and the Rain logo on; they’ll be collectors’ items now. Plus there were a lot of fans watching the filming and they all got wet, so we let them all join in at the end.
CHRIS: We got Mike back from Holland to appear in the video, but the only bit he does is at the beginning. We also had to do a photo session for Fleet Street. He hung around on the edge, as he didn’t know whether he should be in the line-up or not.
MIKE: Coming back to make the video was pretty weird. It was like nobody missed me. They were like, ‘You’ve finished, mate’. They were getting on without me. It was a bit strange; I didn’t really have much say in the rest of it really.
CHRIS: We shot it on 35mm film to really make it look like a proper spy film, based on The Ipcress File. It took a long time to light everything and so on. For some reason, I ended up having the main Harry Palmer role and Suggs is hardly in it. I asked my dad to be in it, as a Russian spy I passed the money to, and of course he refused to do anything until they paid him. Now I know where I get it from.
MIKE: This was done at the time when everyone wanted to be taken seriously. I think they were losing the plot around about this time, if I’m honest. The vibe had gone. The music was great, but the energy and the videos and stuff just wasn’t the same.
LEE: Dave Robinson had to stop us putting all the funnies in because it was supposed to be a serious promo.
WOODY: In a lot of ways, it was our downfall, breaking out of the funny stuff.
CARL: I didn’t like it when we tried to look serious. It wasn’t really us.
CHRIS: We filmed the video on January 30 1984. I don’t know why I can remember that, I just seem to have a photographic memory about some things.
CARL: We asked Michael to be in it too but he said no.
CHRIS: We went around Trafalgar Square and Docklands other such places filming on a black and white Super8 camera, which all the rest watch before they come to kick down my door and interrogate me.
SUGGS: The only problem was that we all started laughing. Usually we can’t laugh when we do something stupid, but this time four of the band were supposed to be coppers grabbing Chris and we kept breaking up with laughter even though it was a straight piece.
LEE: The Jaguar in the video was mine – a Mk H. They wouldn’t hire one so they used mine. The wheel alignment went out as it pulled up to the pavement. Later, when the band split, I panicked and sold it.
Mike flies back from Holland and joins the band to film an impromptu video in Camden Town, filming outside Arlington House and in Camden Lock.
CHRIS: Because we’d come to the end of the road with Stiff, they didn’t want to do a video, so we sort of financed this one ourselves. It was mostly scripted by Lee and pretty much sticks to the story of the song, with Suggs as the old man sitting in the road. It also included a most unglamorous role for his wife, Anne, as a bag lady.
NIGEL DICK (former Stiff employee): They rang me up and said, ‘We’d really love you to direct the next video.’ But it was the first video where they didn’t want to be funny. Everything else was in colour, this was in black-and-white. Everything else was funny, this was maudlin, about homeless people. Oh, great, I’m going to be the architect of their doom, killing the Nutty Boys!
LEE: After a few minor disagreements we finally got under way with a £12,000 budget and time very much against us. It seemed funny not having Robbo around to shout at people. I remember we lost two reels of film that took five hours to shoot because we got dust in the camera. And Mike had rather a rather smart-looking suit for a tramp, as that was all we had. But everyone really put a lot of oomph into the video, especially Mark, Woody and Chris. I think it was because it was our own thing; it was really us.
CHRIS: It was our most ‘Camden’ video ever. Locations included Arlington Road, Camden Lock, Camden High Street and Mornington Crescent Station, all within gobbing distance of each other.
LEE: The first location was Mornington Crescent, where Suggs sings the line, ‘Short white line etc.’ He got a pull off a copper who objected to him sleeping in the middle of the road. He didn’t recognise Suggs and didn’t notice the cameras either.
CHRIS: We used our old pal Chris Gabrin as director and filmed it inside and outside Brixton Academy. For some reason I though it would look good to have a white Levis jacket and jeans and a white hat.
LEE: I like being Max Wall in that one; with all the glitter coming down. I got right into that.
CHRIS GABRIN (video director): There was some surrealism about it, with Lee on wires again. The zebra crossing was a studio set. We did this mock trial and they came up with the idea of a bouncing globe. More serious possibly but maybe I put that down to being longer in the tooth in the business.
CHRIS: Of course, it’s years later, yet you can see the wires when Thommo’s flying. That’s progress for you. Maybe we should have painted them black.
CHRIS: We were back on form with the video. It was done at short notice but John Mills came up with all the goods. It was supposed to be about some paranoid gun nut who was imagining that all of this stuff was happening.
SUGGS: Hopefully we got a bit of the fact that it was based on someone obsessed with America and the American Army in the video. If nothing else, it allowed us to dress up in all those clichés about America…
CARL: …all the uniforms and survivalism, and the ongoing threat of ‘us and them’ that goes hand in hand with America. It’s all that stuff about putting your boots on, getting your survival knife and your hip flask and gas cannister…
SUGGS: …and then going out to defend hamburgers with your life.
JOHN MILLS: I wanted to do a sequence before the track started, with Suggs as the narrator sitting on the post box. The house was over Ealing way. It was quite difficult to find that little cul-de-sac location.
CARL: Lee was back in a dress again; I like Lee in a dress. He looks good in a tight skirt. And Mark looked good in uniform – very convincing.
CHRIS: For did the flip over the barbed wire on to the island, Lee used a small trampoline.
CARL: He was actually going for lessons to learn how to do them properly.
JOHN MILLS: The other great scene was going down Putney High Street on an amphibious army vehicle. That was a hoot. We went down the ramp into the river and up the Thames. They have all these weapons because they’re dressed as soldiers. Lee’s spinning a rifle on his arm and it dropped into the water! Then suddenly, there’s some guy with this loudspeaker on the terrace at the Houses Of Parliament, ‘You on that boat over there! That is illegal!’ They gave us a stern warning and the river police came past. So that video went back to a bit of the wackiness they’d lost.
CARL: The video for this was filmed in a water treatment plant in South London.
JOHN MILLS (video director): We shot it in an old pumping station near the start of the M3.
CHRIS: We didn’t have many ideas really. The big suit was one of Suggs’s.
JOHN MILLS: We used Jim Whiting, who did all the robots for the Rockit video by Herbie Hancock. He made plaster casts of the band’s faces and then made masks that we twisted so all their faces were distorted. I felt it suited the song.
JIM WHITING: Madness came over to my house in Archway Road and I made rubber heads of each band member. They were great fun and it was quite interesting – it was right at the beginning of special effects.
CHRIS: Having the rubber heads made was most unpleasant. To make the mould, they cover your face up so you’re almost suffocating, then stick two straws up your nose to help you breathe.
JIM WHITING: In the end, John wanted to interject the images subliminally, which meant the heads didn’t really get seen.
CARL: It’s a nice song but I don’t like the video; the girl, the dress, the balloons, the dummy bits…
MIKE: …and what was the point of the bow and arrow bit? Can anyone explain that?
CHRIS: The guy was a zen archer. John Mills said, ‘Can you let us know when you’re ready to let the arrow go?’ And the guy said, ‘I’ll let it go when the arrow wants to go.’
MIKE: It’s very 80s. It’s like all these videos where they suddenly have a ballerina in the middle or something. I dunno who was in charge here.
CARL: Green from Scritti got really annoyed because the girl in it was an ex of his.
CHRIS: For the video, we had a meeting and someone had the idea of suits made out of newspaper. The ‘Soweto bloodbath’ headlines on the suits were taken from The Guardian but I’m not sure if we picked them specifically because the song was about apartheid. I thought it was a coincidence and that it had just been in the newspapers but maybe not.
JOHN MILLS (video director): It was difficult because I knew it was their last one. What do you do for the last Madness video? I think Mike was meant to turn up but he didn’t. We thought we’d do the flying properly so we got a skydiver to jump out with a saxophone and play the sax solo. And then we had them all on a conveyer belt at Mornington Crescent Station. I remember editing that and thinking, I don’t know how to end it. We just did this rough and ready bit of polystyrene with ‘The End’ which worked OK.
CARL: My favourite bit is when I come down the ladder; my tempo is fantastic. After it was finished, we all went off thinking, ‘Well, that’s it.’
CHRIS: Virgin originally wanted us to work with some director they liked and showed us a video he’d done, which was the worst thing I’d ever seen; it had someone dressed as the Hunchback of Notre Dame swinging around. It was so bad I walked out of the screening – that was what our relationship with Virgin was like at that point. Instead, we managed to get a film crew together with the help of Carl’s mate Ronnie and made the video ourselves.
CARL: The video was shot in the St George’s Theatre. I was wearing eyeliner, but don’t tell anyone.
CHRIS: We got John Hasler in on drums, even though he didn’t play on the record, and our friend’s partner, Alex, played the bride in a wedding dress. We tried to be serious, but Lee was this kind of little imp with a Mohican haircut and we dyed his face red and things like that. We are what we are really. The other things was, we all decided to wear Prince of Wales check suits and white turtle neck sweaters. The people from Virgin said: ‘Wow! Who was the stylist?’ Ha-ha, us mate.
CARL: It was the first video we’d made in absolutely years, so it was nice to come back together again. It was shot in King’s Cross and I actually took my corset off for it; I didn’t mind showing off my fat tummy.
CHRIS: Everyone had loads of ideas for it. Because it was about drinking, Woody and Mike were meant to represent good and evil.
WOODY: Normally I hate doing videos because there’s so much hanging around, but I laughed all day doing that one.
LEE: That’s cos you were pissed out of your head!
The video veers off into a strange segue with a vehicle punningly called ‘Love’s truck’ and the band dressed as hippies
MIKE: It’s a good video but I didn’t like all the bits in the park.
CARL: Oh I dunno, I liked dressing up as hippies – the only thing was, no one was handing out any spliff.
MIKE: Also, they didn’t want us to have any alcohol on set and yet the song was all about the bloody stuff!
MIKE: The video was cooking at the beginning, but they ran out of time and money by the end of it.
CARL: Yeah, I wasn’t sure about this one too.
CHRIS: We turned up at about 8am but they didn’t film us until 6pm because the director did commercials, so they had very high standards of lighting and so on. Everything took hours.
CARL: And again, in the pub scenes, they didn’t want us to have any actual alcohol in the glasses, which was a bit naff.
This promo is a home-made effort, with fans volunteering to appear on screen. Phill Jupitus briefly appears as a monk with a noose, while Lee is Reverend Greene, complete with the white face make-up and eye-patch from the video for Crunch! track It’s OK, I’m A Policeman.
LEE: Everything was looking up, then at the 11th hour Virgin decided not to make a video, so I said, ‘Fuck that, I’ll do it myself.’ Various members of the group persuaded me not to go it alone, then Virgin, along with Madness, met the costs half way. I got myself a couple of flip cameras, told Ian Dury the score and he said, ‘Not a problem. See you at Kenwood.’
MIKE: It was possibly the only video that we made entirely by ourselves. Me and Lee sorted out locations.
CARL: Parts of it were filmed in the Duke of Hamilton pub, where we met all those years ago.
LEE: Time and the budget were against us but we got some friends and fans to help out. Everyone pulled together – it was packed lunches and travelcards and a neighbour of mine, Lizzy, made the outfits. It wasn’t an extravagant video but it caught Madness and Ian in a mood reminiscent of earlier videos, when we were in control. It was a fantastic time; a joy.
CARL: It was a very enjoyable one to make and it was a shame it didn’t get more of a show.
MIKE: Yeah, it didn’t come out too badly.
LEE: We went into the second day and even though he wasn’t a well man, Ian was like, ‘Not a problem.’
WOODY: He was very frail and fragile, but it was lovely for him to come along.
SOPHY TILSON (Ian Dury’s widow): Ian looked like a skeleton because he was dying. Him and his son Baxter did it with Madness in a little theatre at the top of the road. It was very moving. He was yellow and skeletal but still found the energy to make the film with Madness – a great group of men.
LEE: My last memory of Ian was of him being carted on a sedan at Kenwood. There was a look of horror on his face as he nearly went arse over tit and then the look of relief once he had got things back in control. You can see he’s having a right good knees-up. We came, we saw, we left with a smile. As I said before – a trooper.
SUGGS: When we were shooting the video, Lee had been and gone before the rest of us arrived, so we were like, ‘What’s he done?’ Then they showed us this bit of film with him leaping around in a tutu with a fez on – I’ve got absolutely no idea what relation that bears to the song.
CHRIS: There’s not a lot of the band actually on it apart from Suggs and Carl; no sax from Lee… not much piano… drum machine… written by someone else. I didn’t think it was as good as the new songs we were doing, to be diplomatic.
The video features Jaime Winston as an out-of-control drinker on a night out, with the hand-held camera following her as she causes mayhem, with Alfie Allen trying to get her home. Suggs, Carl and Bedders make a brief appearance, but otherwise it’s Madness-free as a few of the band are still in Australia when it’s filmed.
SUGGS: We got in this great director called Adam Smith, who’d done Skins and a lot of other stuff on TV. In turn he got Jaime, who’s a great actress, and Alfie to re-enact the song in the West End. We were hoping to get their dads, Ray [Winstone] and Keith [Allen] in to have a fight, but we couldn’t organise that.
ADAM SMITH (video director): I’d worked with Jaime before and think she’s brilliant so wanted to work with her again. I couldn’t think of anyone else that would play the role better.
SUGGS: Jaime was perfect for the video – although we’re not suggesting she’s like the girl in the song, who’s a bit wayward and enjoys a night out or seven – but she and Alfie did a great job.
ADAM SMITH: There wasn’t a specific brief – it sort of came from a few pub discussions with the actors and then some trust on their part. It was then filmed over one lively night in Soho, from 8pm to 5am, and was all shot solely using a body harness attached to Jaime. Luckily she loved the idea and was probably the only person I know who’d have the guts to take on Soho on a busy night with a camera strapped to her. I wanted to make a story based on the character that’s described in the song and through this process ended up remembering a lot of nights trying to chaperone spirited girlfriends out of some of the situations that pop up on a night out when you’re a bit over-spirited. It was also important that the characters really loved each other, so the Alfie casting was brilliant because of the instant intimacy you got between the two of them. Because we all know each other, there was a shorthand while working and we really enjoyed the shoot. Madness even made little cameos as angry minicab punters, with gregarious gesticulating replacing nutty dancing. They’d just got back from touring in Australia so there were only a few of them about.
SUGGS: They asked us to come down to Soho at about 2am to film our little cameo as the stars waiting for a cab. All I could hear was these expletives echoing around the corner and I thought, ‘We’re going to find Jaime pretty quickly I think.’ It was a remarkable sight, with all these transvestites coming out of clubs, trying to work out what the hell was going on.
ADAM SMITH: Quite a few of the local Soho ‘residents’ really got involved and made minor cameos. Jaime was incredible at just going with whatever happened and staying in the moment. She’s a very dedicated, hardworking and brave actress.
SUGGS: In the end, I think it was a pretty good video.
Filmed on stage at a local theatre, the video see Lee cavorting in a wedding dress.
SUGGS: I don’t know why, but Lee feels it necessary to dress as a woman in all our videos. He’s a beautiful blushing bride in this one.
LEE: Originally, I was going to use my daughter’s dress, but it was a little bit tight, so another one was eventually provided.