Sunday, 2 March 2008

PET LIKES

It's said that when it was suggested to Lillian Bayliss, the founder of The Old Vic, that she ought to be made a Dame of the British Empire she swiftly responded, in her characteristically forthright way, "It'll be none of your Dames for me!"

In Bayliss' time - and for some while afterwards - 'damehoods' (or 'ships'?) were primarily for 'classical' (meaning, chiefly, Shakespearean) actresses such as Sybil Thorndike, Flora Robson and Edith Evans. Today, happily, they are given to a broad range of entertainers and we can rejoice in having not just Dames Maggie and Judi but also Dames Julie and Shirley...

So, how come no one has got around to giving a Damehood to the actress and singer who began her career by being known as "Britain's Shirley Temple"?

I refer, of course, to...


In sixty-six years of performing, Petula Clark has done it all: radio, TV, film, stage and, of course dozens of recordings including many, many hit singles, four of which reached the No 1 top-spot.

Last July, the following story broke...
London, July 8 : Sir Michael Caine, Sir Tim Rice, Susan Hampshire and impresario Bill Kenwright are among celebrity fans of Petula Clark who have lent their support to an online petition on the Downing Street website for making the veteran singer-actress a "Dame".

The celebrities feel that the Petula should be honoured in recognition of her glittering career that has spanned more than 60 years.
Petula is the most successful British female solo recording artist to date, and she is still touring and recording at 74. She holds the distinction of having the longest span on the international pop charts of any artist - 51 years - from 1954, when 'The Little Shoemaker' made the UK Top 20, through to 2005.

She started her career during the Second World War as a child singer entertaining the troops, moving into films including The Card, in the late 1940s and 1950s, and hit the height of her career in the 1960s when she became a pop success with songs such as 'Downtown'.
Her career has continued in musicals like Sunset Boulevard and Blood Brothers.

"It is a travesty that Petula has not yet been honoured after such a long and distinguished career. The fact that these big names are lending their support shows how much she is regarded among the theatrical community," the Daily Express quoted an insider as saying.

Leo Sayer, lyricist Don Black, songwriter Tony Hatch, and former EastEnders star Wendy Richard are the other celebrities who are among the 500 names on the petition.


"Hopefully the petition will help bring Pet the damehood she so richly deserves," said the insider.
So, no pressure there, then, Gordon...

Anyway, as of today, the PET-ition has 1,102 signatures but could do with a few more before the deadline of 12 March, so if you have fond memories of our Pet in films like Finnian's Rainbow and Goodbye, Mr Chips or if you ever sang along to any of her discs (from the childhood 'They're Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace' to 'The Other Man's Grass', 'I Know a Place', 'Don't Sleep on the Subway' or any one of those other UK/US hits - or even that considerable discography of songs sung in French or German) now is the time to ACT!

So, with only 10 days to go, you should stop reading this and go to the 10 Downing Street Petition site and SIGN!

Then, when you've done that you can come back and watch Pet (on Esther Rantzen's TV show) singing just a handful of those numbers that have made her a much-loved star and, surely, a Dame-in-Waiting...

7 comments:

Suzanne said...

Such childhoon memories.... and proof that you can be a brilliant, successful singer without SCHRIEKING!

Eudora said...

It is valid the sign of a spanish?... Here we remember this lady for the films, and songs like Downtown. She still have a britgh voice.

Yes, of course: "Dame Petula Clark".

Eudora said...

No, I`m not a british citizen or resident... well, anyway this petion have my moral support.

Boll Weavil said...

Surely, at that age,she will have realised how puerile and distorted the honours system is.To have so many fans supporting her and appreciating her long and distinquished career is, I'm sure, recognition enough and recognition of more value than any artificial title bestowed by a civil servant.Leave the titles for others that need the reassurance.

Qenny said...

I very much doubt the lady herself supports this campaign, for to do so might make her look Petula-nt.

*groan*

And ... relax.

Sila Lumenn said...

As an American, I'm not allowed to sign the petition, but if I could I would. It's time to give her the recognition she deserves!

DOuG pRATt said...

Thank you, Brian, for putting a spotlight on the PET-ition! There are now over 1100 signatures, and I believe writer Alan Moore (V for Vendetta) may be one of them.

Being a Yank of English descent, I for one remain impressed by all of the lingering titles and trappings of the British Empire. Dame it all, Pet deserves more recognition than an MBE.