Monday, January 21, 2013

Venus in black stockings 1: Lesley-Anne Down

Lesley Anne Down in the Alberto episode of Upstairs, Downstairs, first broadcast 16th November 1975

In a world where there were only three television channels, TV watching in the seventies was a much more communal affair for families than it is today.    No tablets, no smart phones, no home computers, no video recording devices to enable time shifting.  If you wanted to watch something on TV you had to be sat down in front of it at the appointed time.  

One of the programmes that Agent Triple P had to endure, during family viewing at the weekends in the early Seventies, was Upstairs, Downstairs, which was very much Downton Abbey's forebear.  A largely tedious (for a teenager) tale of aristocrats and their servants it had very little of interest for Agent Triple P.  However, from series three the programme was considerably enlivened by the presence of the luminously beautiful Lesley-Anne Down, who was just nineteen when she first appeared in it.

One scene involving her has stuck in Triple P's mind for nearly forty years and recently we were delighted to find an illustration of her from this scene.  In the episode Alberto, from the fifth and final series from 1975, Lesley-Anne, as Georgina Worsley, is offered a role in a film, Paris by Night.  Jealous suitor James Bellamy (Simon Williams) turns up at the studio concerned about the whole thing and quite rightly, it seems, as Lesley-Anne is wearing the sort of outfit that a young lady should not be seen in, even in the nineteen twenties.  As a fifteen year old to see quite such a risque outfit on prime time (not that that was a term in use in those days in the UK) weekend drama was a splendid surprise.

Our second dose of a be-stockinged Lesley Anne comes from the enjoyable Michael Crichton Victorian caper film The First Great Train Robbery (1979).  The film has much to recommend it, including Geoffrey Unsworth's photography, a good recreation of Victorian London (shot in Dublin), an engaging performance by Sean Connery (doing some amazingly risky stunts on top of a moving train) and a marvellous score by Jerry Goldsmith; the main theme from which is particularly hard to get out of your head once you have heard it.

Lesley-Anne also puts in a splendid performance and is particularly eye-catching in some, we have to admit, rather anachronistic lingerie.   Still, it catches the spirit of saucy Victorian underwear even if it has been somewhat modernised.

The image of her in her corset and stockings was so strong it featured, not surprisingly, in the film's posters.  The pose of her in the version of the poster above made a strong impression on Agent Triple P years before he actually saw the film.  The poster art is by top American poster artist Tom Jung who is famous for his work on such iconic posters for films like Doctor Zhivago and Star Wars.

More of Miss Down soon.  Next up, her fetching publicity shots for Sphinx (1981)

No comments:

Post a Comment