Monday, 19 March 2018

Out On Blue Six: The Colourfield

I'm reliably informed that today is Terry Hall's 59th birthday. So to say happy birthday to the big man, here's his 1985 Colourfield single, Thinking of You

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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Out On Blue Six: The Real Thing

Heard this more or less on repeat in The Grapes in Liverpool last week (I think someone was mourning Amoo's passing) and it's been kicking around my head ever since. Beautiful song...

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The Facts Behind The Hysteria

With all the mass hysteria going on at the moment, you'd be forgiven for missing this damning letter to the Times

Further to your report ('Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment', Mar 14) may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.
Stephen Davies,
Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS foundation Trust

It's also worth pointing out that the government's line that the nerve agent is 'a type developed by the Russians' doesn't mean made or used by the Russians. And in the midst of the attacks against Corbyn for advising caution (including the 'impartial' BBC's decision to photoshop him as a Russian stooge behind a USSR backdrop last week) how come no one is concerned with the £30,000 donation made to the Tory party by the wife of a former Putin minister - just one of many donations from Russians in recent years. Even Litvenyenko's widow is talking about this, but the media don't seem to want to give her views an airing.

Once again, my advice is look to the truth and not what the government are saying. This is May's Falklands moment and she's loving it, as is the odious Boris Johnson who seems to think he's his beloved Churchill; just in time for The Darkest Hour buzz. Why? Because just like Thatcher's government in '82, it gives them the perfect excuse to bury the real unrest and disasters occurring under May's premiership and the chance to boost her ailing approval ratings with the sheep like contingent of the general public. Brexit, Grenfell etc can all be ignored while they wave what remains of the Union Jack against the menacing Soviet bear.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

RIP Jim Bowen

More sad news as it has been announced that the northern comedian, actor and Bullseye presenter Jim Bowen has died at the age of 80.

Bowen was a Maths teacher and a deputy headmaster originally, but he was compelled to try comedy after watching Ken Dodd perform two nights in Blackpool in the 1960s, and there's a bitter irony to be had in the fact that Bowen died just two days after his inspiration and hero. The years spent on the stand up circuit in the pubs and working mens clubs paid off, as Bowen bagged a regular spot on Granada's stand up showcase The Comedians in the 1970s. This led directly to the show Bowen became synonymous with, Bullseye. Arriving on our screens in 1981 the partnership of darts ability and general knowledge quickly proved to be a winning formula and Bullseye became a Sunday teatime mainstay for 14 years, attracting up to 17.5 million viewers in its heyday, and providing Bowen with both a clutch of catchphrases ('You can't beat a bit of bully', 'let's have a look at what you could've won' and 'super, smashing, great' to name but a few) and household name status.

Away from Bullseye, Bowen had a sideline in acting, appearing in Victoria Wood's TV play Happy Since I Met You and the 1980s property development drama Muck and Brass, alongside Mel Smith. In later years he appeared in The Grimleys, Jonathan Creek and as bewigged Blackpool bar owner Hoss Cartwright in Peter Kay's sitcom Phoenix Nights. He was also the president of Morecambe Football Club.

Between 1999 and 2002 Bowen had his own morning show on BBC Radio Lancashire but an ill considered, on air racist remark let to his resignation. In recent years Bowen suffered a series of strokes. He died in hospital this morning with his wife Phyllis by his bedside.


RIP Stephen Hawking

Another very sad day - Stephen Hawking has died aged 76.

Not just a respected genius, but a genuinely good man with a voice that increasingly shone a positive light in these strange and often dark times.

'Quiet people have the loudest minds'


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Secret Society (2000)

Secret Society is a little seen comedy from 2000, somewhat in the mould of The Full Monty, and it is all about a group of plus sized female factory workers in Yorkshire who become sumo wrestlers. It is a British/German co-production from director Imogen Kimmel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Catriona McGowan.

It stars Charlotte Brittain of 1998's Get Real (pictured above;whatever happened to her? She's so sweet, charming and sexy here) as Daisy, an insecure young woman who has problems accepting her size and her beauty despite the clear belief from her husband Ken (Lee Ross) that she is gorgeous as she is. Unfortunately, despite Ken clearly being mad about her, he's a bit of an amiable well meaning prat who is unable to hold down a job or get their lives on course for the future. Determined to make Daisy feel good about herself and make some money he hits upon the idea of her posing for saucy postcards and resolutely fails to understand or read the signs that Daisy is acutely embarrassed and uncomfortable by this venture - and you can't really blame her, when his idea is to paint rodent features on her bare breasts and print postcards with the legend 'Greeting from the Yorkshire Field Mouse'. I could have done with some explanation as to his thinking here, really I could.

Realising that she has to bring home the bacon herself, Daisy gets a job in a local veg packing factory run by Marlene (Annette Badland) and which seems to employ more than its fair share of ample women, each of whom keep to their own secretive clique. Singled out as having potential by Marlene and the no-nonsense supervisor (Sharon D. Clarke), Daisy is tested by being told she must clean the toilets as well as her official work duties. When she finally snaps and hands in her resignation, Marlene realises that her young protege is a strong willed woman who has what it takes to become part of their inner circle, the secret society of the title - their sumo club. 

Marlene has long ago realised that, for plus sized women, size is not a weakness it's a strength. Using sumo training and its philosophy - 'shin' (spirit) 'gi' (skill) 'tai' (body) - she teaches her workforce that the body is a tool to use to its optimum, as opposed to their brains being ruled by their body and the hang-ups they may associate with it. This is clearly beneficial to Daisy and much more enlightening than Ken's hamfisted methods of trying to make her recognise her attractiveness. But of course, as Daisy takes the rocky road to self discovery and self confidence that she must keep secret from Ken, he begins the descent into insecurity and vulnerability. 

Ken's mates (James Hooton and Charles Dale) are both UFO obsessives who work at the local video shop. When Ken loans some kind of titillating alien amazon women film (featuring Hooten's Emmerdale co-star Lisa Riley who surprisingly gets 6th billing in the film despite only having three scenes and one piece of dialogue) from them and attends a few of their meetings he begins to believe that Daisy's new secretive mood and physical confidence is a result of aliens taking over her body! Like Ken's harebrained postcard scheme, I'm not quite sure what the filmmakers were going for her and the resulting subplot falls pretty flat at a time when the film should be stepping up a gear to reach its climax. By the final reel, Marlene has convinced her sumo sisters to go public for a tournament against a visiting team of male wrestler from Japan and there's a dilemma for Daisy who has walked away from her friends to be with the clearly distressed and confused Ken and to be little more than his wife once again. Will she stay that way or will the pull of her sisters have her return to the fold not only to continue on her course for enlightenment and size acceptance but also to win the tournament for her team? 

Well the answer is of course a predictable yes, she will return and she will win - but everything feels so rushed (especially given that one minute Daisy is watching the bout on TV at home with Ken and the next minute she's there, all dressed up and ready to go - just how near was the arena to their house?!) that you can't help feeling shortchanged.  

Despite these niggles in the film's denouement and the fact that, for a Fully Monty-esque comedy there isn't really much in the way of laughs at all (though thankfully it never once makes cheap gags about either weight or sumo; there's no 'big nappy' comments here), and that unfortunately - apart from Brittain, Badland and Clarke - the other female sumo wrestlers are little more than glorified non-speaking extras rather than characters in their own right, Secret Society remains a good film based solely on its merit in terms of not only female empowerment, but empowerment for women who are above a size 12. No wonder it's such a rarity.

Monday, 12 March 2018

RIP Ken Dodd

Another legend gone - Ken Dodd, one of a kind and the last in the great music hall tradition, has passed away at the age of 90.

Watching him leave hospital almost a fortnight ago was a bittersweet experience; he looked incredibly frail from the chest infection that had laid him low for several weeks but he still managed to smile and joke with reporters, fans and hospital staff because, for Doddy, the show must go on. A fascinating character, he had the ability to keep audiences in stitches for marathon shows but away from the limelight he was conversely a very private and indeed shy man, as my friend who was his neighbour in Knotty Ash would testify. I think this portrait from David Cobley manages to capture both these sides to his character, depicting him backstage and 'off duty' yet still suggesting the performance thanks to the mirrors and him holding court with an unseen private audience.

Today may be a sad day, but it's important to remember just how much happiness Ken Dodd gave us all


Sunday, 11 March 2018

RIP Dorka Nieradzik

If you are a telly obsessive of a certain age, then the name Dorka Nieradzik will be familiar to you. The Polish born hair and make-up and visual effects designer's name that jumped out of the closing credits for shows ranging from Doctor Who to Last of the Summer Wine, so it is sad to hear that the multi award winning Nieradzik died of cancer last month at the age of 68.

I couldn't top the lovely obituary from Toby Hadoke that featured in The Guardian last week, so I'm not going to try. I'm just going to post the link here


Friday, 9 March 2018

Made (1972)

1970 saw the Royal Court production of Howard Barker's play No One Was Saved. Barker's piece was both a deliberate, pessimistic riposte to Edward Bond's 1965 play Saved - which had shared the same South London working class milieu - and heavily influenced by the Beatles 1967 song Eleanor Rigby. The heroine of No One Was Saved is Rigby herself, a young working class single mother who is seduced and abandoned by several men, including a priest (Father McKenzie) and a cynical rock star (based on John Lennon), as a terrible tragedy - the violent death of her baby - strikes.

Having attended a performance of Barker's play, producer Joseph Janni believed it had the potential to become a really good film and commissioned Barker to write a screenplay. Dispensing with the notion of a straight adaptation, he opted to take much of the framework of his original play to tell a story that was more ambiguous about its influences. Indeed, with the inclusion of Janni as producer, John Mackenzie as director and Carol White in the lead role of grieving single mother and lonely young woman Valerie, the film itself would go on to wear another more noticeable influence, namely Ken Loach's Poor Cow. Janni had produced that earlier film starring White, whilst Mackenzie had served as assistant director upon the production. 

Enticing Carol White back from her ill advised attempts at cracking Hollywood would prove to be a masterstroke, as once again she delivers a perfect and easily sympathetic study of a similarly put upon single mother searching for love and a better life in the midst of hardship, mistreatment and tragedy. She is paired opposite two very interesting casting choices and performances; the first is Roy Harper, the folk rock musician who had been discovered at Les Cousins in the mid 60s and was, by this stage, gaining some international acclaim. A novice when it comes to acting, there's nevertheless an authenticity that Harper brings to the part of Mike, an anti-religious troubadour (an update of the Lennonesque rocker), thanks to his musicianship and his own spiritual views, that simply wouldn't exist if the part was played by an ordinary actor. The second is John Castle as Father Dyson, a handsomely saturnine actor who brings an ambiguity to his interest and concern for White's Valerie. 

Both men seem to want a better life for Valerie, yet there seems to be an implicit understanding between the film and its audience that the better life they're pushing for will somehow benefit them far more than it may benefit Valerie. Dyson's motivation to help Valerie is never openly addressed, but there's something about the 'right on' public image he presents to his congregation that doesn't quite gel with the moments alone we are privy to throughout the film. Small scenes, such as his obvious awareness of, and pleasure in the fact, that the waitress at an Italian restaurant is giving him the eye whilst he is sans dog collar, only serve to sow the seeds of our doubt and wariness in his character, and the certainty and conviction he has regarding his own methods and society at large are often shown to be woefully naive and incorrect. 

Meanwhile Harper's Mike - in keeping with the original play's denouement that sees Rigby hearing the Beatles track she inadvertently gave her name to on the radio and realising she's been used - jets off to America, seemingly without another thought for Valerie, as he presents to the world his new hit, 'Social Casualty'; a track that details misfortunes that are unmistakably influenced by Valerie, especially as, just like Eleanor Rigby, it repeatedly mentions her name.

Whilst the film clearly owes a debt to Poor Cow, Mackenzie's approach is a little more arty than Loach's social realism. This is Mackenzie long before he hit the big time with The Long Good Friday, but he's already showing his potential; most notably in the way he edits and cuts several key scenes to create quick collages that serve to drive home the ensuing emotions Valerie is feeling. Nevertheless the film is anchored with an attempt to depict an accurate reflection of a then contemporary London, and the warts and all aspects of social cancers such as racism, juvenile delinquency and football hooliganism (the latter two being the catalyst that sparks the horrific moment in which Valerie's baby perishes) are all conveyed to get across the film's overall message that the reason society is dying is perhaps because faith has died.

Out On Blue Six: Public Service Broadcasting

Just one of the fabulous soundscapes from PSB's new album and a tribute to mining; Every Valley 

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

Send a Message to the Saudi Tyrants

18 young people could be beheaded at any time for the 'crime' of protesting against the Saudi government. Some were sentenced to death for attending protests when they were children. All were brutally tortured into confessing.

Tomorrow, loathsome Tory PM Theresa May will welcome Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman with open arms. This is our chance to send a message to the Saudi government that says whilst our government welcome them as friends, we - the general public - find their behaviour abhorrent. If you sign this petition you can make our voice heard, you can save lives. Do it today - it will be delivered to the Saudi prince tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Out On Blue Six: Human League

I watched Carol Morley's excellent documentary film Dreams of a Life again at the weekend and as a result this song has been going around my head for days...

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Monday, 5 March 2018

Remembrance (1982)

You might think that the 1982 film Remembrance is like the buses. Rarely seen since its release, you wait for ages for a screening and then two come along at once! The film was Gary Oldman's big screen debut and Film Four screened it in January to coincide with the release of Darkest Hour. Now, as it's been announced that Oldman bagged Best Actor at the Oscars last night, it's on Film Four again tonight in the early hours - at 1:35am to be precise. 

Directed by Colin Gregg, Remembrance, one of Film Four's first features, sees Oldman play a drunken and clearly troubled youth who arrives in the naval city of Plymouth just forty eight hours ahead of the fleet's deployment on a six month NATO exercise. Seizing their last chance of freedom and the opportunity to let their hair down are several young sailors who frequent the bars, discos and strip clubs on the notorious Union Street, all played by familiar faces such as John 'Nasty Nick' Altman, Nick Dunning, Ewan Stewart, Al Ashton, Dave Hill and Pete Lee-Wilson, and a few other faces whose talents sadly didn't stretch much beyond the '80s, such as David John (one of Ace's friends in Survival, the final Doctor Who story of the 'classic' era) and Martin Barrass. Standing on the periphery of the action is a young Timothy Spall, spending his last day in a more subdued manner, as his wife (Kim Taylforth, the sister of Altman's fellow EastEnder Gillian, aka Kathy Beale) is pregnant. It's worth mentioning however that this is definitely an ensemble piece, so anyone looking for a major showcase of Gary Oldman's talents will be disappointed. He has a very pivotal role that is vital to the plot, but his screen time overall probably runs to just 20-30 minutes.

The film offers a snapshot of life in Plymouth in what is essentially just twenty four hours and takes an even handed approach to its ensemble cast, cannily joining the separate strands of narrative into one pleasingly cohesive whole. Raw and earthy, the film is certainly evocative of its time both in terms of British society as a whole and the film industry too, especially as there are shades of Alan Clarke here and there. Perhaps it was hoped that Remembrance would do for the navy what Scum did for borstal?! The title itself alludes to a trip to the Royal Albert Hall's Festival of Remembrance the young sailors went on, which they captured for posterity on cine-camera and is shown over the title sequence, but it also refers to a crucial memory that gradually rises to the surface for Mark (David John) which becomes the key to Oldman's true identity. There's also the metaphor of such half forgotten memories lying beneath the surface of our subconscious, much like the submarines in Plymouth's harbour will soon be lying beneath the ocean.

Of course because this is so rare, the print televised by Film Four has really suffered. It's by no means unwatchable, but it is littered with flashes and scratches and little white crosses where I presume edits were put in place. The audio is also sometimes beset by pops and crackles, which I don't imagine were part of Brian Eno's soundtrack! What's odd is that last year, Plymouth University screened the film with, what they claimed, was a 'newly completed digital scan of the original print' - surely this ought to have been available for Film Four?

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Out On Blue Six: Jimmy Nail

I've always liked Jimmy Nail, both as an actor and as a singer. The latter might not be fashionable to say in some circles but I don't really adhere to guilty pleasures; I like what I like. I even saw him live a couple of times too, a very entertaining performer with a strong voice. 

His 1985 cover of Rose Royce's classic Love Don't Live Here Anymore was the first display of his sensitive singing side after his breakout performance as Oz in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and it has currently resurfaced on BBC4's Top of the Pops repeats this last week. It made me head on over to YouTube to check out the video....

Look at that eh? Queen's Roger Taylor on drums, Status Quo's Rick Parfitt on lead guitar, Michael Elphick propping up the bar, Peter Wight serving behind it, and Nail on both vocal and cabbying duties.

Nail didn't trouble the charts again until 1992 with the excellent number one hit single Ain't No Doubt. His subsequent album, Growing Up In Public, boasted support from George Harrison, David Gilmour, Sam Brown, Guy Pratt and Gary Moore. A couple of years later he followed it up with a bestselling album featuring songs from his drama series Crocodile Shoes, many of which were chart hits.

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RIP Roger Bannister

The national hero who broke the four minute mile in 1954 has sadly died at the age of 88


Saturday, 3 March 2018

Out On Blue Six: Deacon Blue

As heard on the 1989 BBC drama Take Me Home, Deacon Blue perform their gorgeous track The Very Thing live on ITV's Night Network in 1988....

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Take Me Home (1989)

As far as I know Take Me Home, Tony Marchant's three-part drama about a middle aged married cab driver who falls for a young unhappily married woman was only ever shown the once - in 1989. It's weird though because, though I was only ten years old then, a lot of it has stuck with me; that's the power of good tele. It's never been released to DVD (I'm guessing there is an issue with music rights: Dusty Springfield and Deacon Blue feature heavily) but there are very good copies available on the bootleg circuit and so this week, almost thirty years later, I got to watch it again. 

"This used to be a town, now they call it a development..."

Shot in Telford, Take Me Home is set in the fictional Woodsleigh Abbots, an industrial town in the late '80s now experiencing major redevelopment, extending residential areas and roads to focus primarily on the new business park where a Chinese computer technology firm InfoCo has set up home. This social and economic transformation has attracted many white collar workers, who have moved up from London to set up home ("We didn't so much get on our bikes as drive off in our Vauxhall Astras" one Thatcherite yuppie is heard to quip at a dinner party, referencing Norman Tebbit infamous 1981 speech) One such person is Martin (Reece Dinsdale) who has convinced his lonely wife Kathy (Maggie O'Neill) that InfoCo and the town will be a fresh start for them. He tries to integrate them into their new home via badminton and dinner parties with his co-workers and their wives but Kathy is often absent, either mentally or physically.

Tom (Keith Barron) is a former tool maker now trying to make a living as a minicab driver. He is married to Liz (Annette Crosbie) who also has a new job, working in the canteen at InfoCo. Unlike Martin and Kathy, they live in a traditional 50's built semi in the old part of town and have a grown up daughter who has flown the nest to start her own family. Liz has taken to her new role like a duck to water, enjoying the social interaction with the newcomers (even though it is mostly one way on her part - the yuppie workers, including Martin, are all too arrogant to talk to the likes of her) and the camaraderie of her co-workers who are all female and of a similar age. In contrast, Tom is struggling as a minicab driver; he doesn't know the new estates and new roads and he is concerned by the technological encroachment he sees upon traditional industry, having left his 'job for life' when his duties required him to start using computers. He works most evenings, driving around listening to his Dusty Springfield tape and picking up fares, faced with the irony of trying to get to know the town he has spent his life in. It is one such evening that he picks up the distressed Kathy, who stops his cab and tearfully asks him to "Take me home".

Tom's initially fatherly concern for bank worker Kathy soon changes to mild contempt when she tells him she has recently had an abortion at Martin's request and when he has to pick her and a worse-for-wear Martin up from a staff party. He tells Liz that this new couple are trouble, confirming his quiet suspicions that the new town and all its changes aren't necessarily for good. However, Kathy confiding in him about her marriage and her unhappiness leads to them meeting secretly, behind their respective partners' backs and, despite the significant age-gap and social differences, a a mutual attraction starts to develop which turns to an obsessive, passionate affair. 

What I really like about Take Me Home is that Marchant approaches the tidal change of '80s Britain through his central characters. Tom represents the skilled labour being left behind and cast on the scrapheap by Thatcher's government and technological advances, whilst Kathy represents those changes. They are both completely different: she is upwardly mobile, he is stagnating, she represents city living, he is small town, she is new and he is old, and their age-gap of course plays into that, along with their musical tastes - he loves Dusty, she prefers Deacon Blue (their song The Very Thing is the show's theme tune) and the pair exchange tapes. But at the same time they are both kindred spirits in that neither of them can adjust to the world around them and they each feel dissatisfied by it. Their affair points towards the breaking down of barriers, an ill fated attempt for the old world to meet the social and economic encroachments upon it, and this metaphor is also used elsewhere with Take Me Home's secondary characters; Liz's co-worker at the canteen is having an affair with their young manager and her husband, a fellow cabbie and friend of Tom's, is oblivious.  

Beautifully written by Marchant, Take Me Home is directed with great skill by Jane Howell, a female director who cut her teeth on single dramas such as the BBC's Play For Today, Screenplay and Screen Two dating back to the mid '70s. Female directors were sadly all too rare in house during this period, but I'm grateful that it was a female director who got to helm Marchant's script - unlike many adultery orientated dramas, Take Me Home does not indulge in the kind of steamy, nude encounters that I imagine a male director would push for. Sex scenes do occur, but they're kept brief. For Howell and Marchant its the dialogue that matters, and they treat their audiences as mature and intelligent people. At a time when we're still hearing about many (male) directors, writers and producers opting for needless, gratuitous nudity, it's refreshing to see that something from twenty-nine years earlier was ahead of the curve and rather more effective to boot. 

Take Me Home is a vital document on Thatcher's Britain and a bloody good story well told. I think it is the late Keith Barron's finest performance, and all the cast deliver the goods.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

RIP Peter Miles

The actor Peter Miles, famous for his three appearances on Doctor Who in the 1970s, has died at the age of 89. Miles' best known role of the three guest spots was that of Nyder, the cold and sadistic, loyal lieutenant to Davros in 1975's Genesis of the Daleks.

Miles was a regular on the Doctor Who convention circuit and a much loved guest. His other appearances on the show were as Dr Lawrence in the 1970s serial The Silurians and Professor Whitaker in 1974's Invasion of the Dinosaurs. Both were opposite Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, and the pair were reunited for the 1993 radio adventure The Paradise of Death. He also appeared in several audio productions for Big Finish as well as recording cast commentaries for the DVD releases of the serials he took part in. Away from Doctor Who, Miles appeared in films, including The Eagle Has Landed, in which he played Hitler, and many classic television shows such as Paul Temple, Colditz, Moonbase 3, Survivors, Blake's 7, Poldark, The Sandbaggers and Bergerac. Asides from acting, Miles was an accomplished jazz singer and musician and accompanied his childhood friend Dusty Springfield on guitar for the very first recording she made; Can't We Be Friends...


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

RIP Lewis Gilbert

Sad to hear that film director Lewis Gilbert has passed away at the grand old age of 97

Gilbert was the man responsible for some of my favourite films; Alfie, Educating Rita, The Spy Who Loved Me, Carve Her Name With Pride, Reach for The Sky, the list goes on in a career that stretched all the way back to his war days when he joined the RAF's film unit and the First Motion Picture Unit of the USAAF. In the 1950s, Gilbert cornered the market in making British war films such as the aforementioned Carve Her Name With Pride and Reach For The Sky, Sink The Bismarck! and Albert, RN, which ultimately put him on the radar of Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman who chose him to direct the Sean Connery Bond film You Only Live Twice. This proved so successful that Gilbert returned to the world of Bond a further two times with 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979's Moonraker. He returned to the war genre for Operation Daybreak about the assassination of Heydrich.

Away from action, Gilbert was responsible for the 1966 Michael Caine film Alfie (on the recommendation of his wife Hylda who had visited the hairdressers and met an actress in the stage play) and reunited with Caine again in 1983 for an adaptation of another play, Willy Russell's Educating Rita. This film led to another dual partnership with for Gilbert playwright and star as he went on to direct Russell's Shirley Valentine and to cast Rita star Julie Walters in two more productions; Stepping Out and his final film, 2002's Before You Go.

Gilbert died peacefully in his sleep at home in Monaco on 23rd February.