Home > Sixploitation > The Lowdown - Brearley's big ones
Sixploitation banner 2
picture of Chesty Morgan
Confessions of a Middlesex skipper - Mike Brearley tells PDCC all about some of British cinema's unjustly neglected classics.

The Lowdown - Brearley's big ones

As part of PDCC's Sixploitation special Ashes winning captain Mike Brearley spills the beans about his favourite films and shares a few secrets of the crazy days of the seventies.

"Back in the mid seventies me and a few of the lads had a pretty standard routine for relaxing after play had ended: we would have a quick shower, put on our civvies and get over to the Tavern for a couple of sherbets. Then me, 'Lucky' Luckhurst, Clive Radley, big Wayne Daniel, Mike Selvey and a couple of others would hop on the 113 bus into the West End and go to one of our 'special' cinemas.

In those days it was pretty much guaranteed that there would be a good old British X rated romp showing somewhere in town. I don't mean one of those stag films that they used to play in the print room but something a little 'lighter'; something with a few laughs thrown in."

Here then are Mike Brearley's favourite films, as told to PDCC

picture of Botham, Willis and Brearley
"What time does Sticky Wicket start?" Botham, Willis and Brearley plan a night out.

1. Come Play With Me (Dir: George Harrison Marks 1977)

"This cracker was shown continuously at the Moulin cinema in the West End between 1977 and 1981 - something of a record, I heard. I must have seen it hundreds of times.

Henry McGhee plays the Deputy Prime Minister who is investigating the flooding of the country with forged banknotes. Meanwhile the forgers - Alfie Bass and George Harrison Marks (who also wrote and directed the film) escape from the gangsters who have been employing them and end up hiding in a health farm in Scotland ... filled with tasty birds!

Look out for Mary Millington in her first mainstream role. Sometimes on our way back from Surrey games we would pop into the 'bookshop' she ran in Tooting, where, if you were lucky, she would serve you in a bikini. Gatt heard about this but somehow managed to get the wrong end of the stick. He thought that Mary Millingtom would serve you if you were wearing a bikini! Anyway we stopped there one day and Gatt suddenly whips off his whites to reveal a very skimpy bright orange two piece number. Things got worse when he dashed into the shop only to discover that Mary was away filming and the shop was being minded by a 6 foot 4 German trannie called Helmut. He/she took a bit of a shine to poor old Gatt, locked the door and proceeded to chase him round the shop for the next half an hour. Sadly for Gatt word got round about it and when Pakistani umpire Shakur Rana made an ill advised helmet / Helmut gag in the middle of that test in 1987 it caused no end of bother.

picture of Come Play Me

These sorts of films were great. In addition to the top crumpet on display you also got the cream of British comic talent - Irene Handle, Ronald Fraser are both in this. It should have won an Oscar for best use of suspender belts!

I remember Mike Selvey saying: “One minute you're pulling your pudding and the next you're splitting your sides”. That just about sums it up for me.

2. Adventures of a Plumber's Mate (Dir: Stanley A Long 1978)

We all went to see this straight after a Benson and Hedges match against Leicestershire one Thursday afternoon. The game finished early after we got bowled out chasing and Graham Barlow said that if we hurried we could still catch the late afternoon showing. I have never seen a whole team move so fast. Mike Selvey still had his pads on when we got to the cinema. Mind you he had this funny habit of watching these films with his batting gloves on anyway - even if he hadn't been batting.

Plumber's Mate is a very funny film. It's not going to win awards for its plot or production values but if it's a saucy romp you want with a lot of laughs along the way then this is the film for you. The comedy is pure slapstick, the girls all have cracking knockers and the guest stars are top of the range. The late great Arthur Mullard is in it and there's a hilarious cameo from Blakey from On the Buses.

I remember we couldn't get John Emburey out of the cinema after this one had finished. He reckoned if he stayed where he was he could watch it again for free. Thing was, we'd been run ragged in the field all day and Embers fell asleep waiting for it to start again. He didn't wake up until the next morning and had to make a mad dash across west London to get to the ground in time for the start of a County match. I was just about to get Fred Titmus out of retirement when Embers turned up; red faced and very apologetic. Funny enough, he went straight out and bagged a five-for. Say what you like about Embers but that was pure professionalism.

picture of Confessions of a Pop Performer
"Do you know the piano's on my foot?" "You hum it son, I'll play it."

3. Confessions of a Pop Performer (Dir: Norman Cohen 1975)

I could easily pick any of this excellent series of very entertaining films; but I slightly prefer Pop Performer because I'm still a big fan of the group Kipper.

The late umpire Jack Tuppence tagged along with us to see this film when it first came out. He was very taken with it and wrote off to the production company suggesting they do a Confessions of an Umpire version. I think he even wrote a script. He was umpiring one of our games when he got a telegram saying that they were interested in making the film and would like to meet him to discuss it. I don't think I've ever seen him so excited. He dashed off straight after stumps to meet the Producer. When I saw him the next day he was in a foul mood - they wanted to do the film but starring Robin Askwith. Poor Jack had assumed he would play the lead role ! We all laughed ... but we weren't laughing when we were bowled out for 112 after a very disgruntled Jack Tuppence fired us all out.

picture of Walter Less filming Sticky Wicket
Walter Less filming Sticky Wicket (1979). Sid Crumpet forgoes tea and decides to have a quick net instead.

4. Sticky Wicket (Dir: Walter Less 1979)

Walter Less was the undoubted master of Sixploitation. He used to be a familiar face around Lord's in the 70s and would pop in to see the players when his hectic shooting schedule allowed it. This could be distracting when you were padding up or walking out to bat but the upshot of it was that we always got invited to the 'premiere' of his latest film.

Now don't get the idea that these premieres were like the ones you see on Sky News where crowds of people swarm round some fenced-off Leicester Square mega cinema. No, Walter's opening nights were usually celebrated in the Blue Posts in Soho with a few shandies and then all back to some dodgy flea-pit for the actual screening. If you were lucky there might have been some pork scratchings on a plate and a couple of bottles of Blue Nun.

Walter's films were always popular with cricketers because they weren't just about tits and bums; they actually dealt with some of the issues facing the players of that particular era. Sticky Wicket has a storyline about a young international player - Sid Crumpet - who has to choose between Packer's World Series and his burgeoning England career. It's a difficult decision and not made any easier by being chased around Trent Bridge by a bevy of scantily clad tea ladies.

picture of Rosie Dixon
Rosie Dixon (Debby Ash, right) preparing a patient for his injection

5. Rosie Dixon - Night Nurse (Dir: Justin Cartwright 1978)

This one ticks all the boxes: nurses? yes! boobs? yes! bedpans? yes! Lance Percival? yes!

If I recall this opened the same week as we played Sussex at HQ. There was a real buzz about the place and everybody was desperate to wrap up play and get straight over to the Edgware Road Odeon in good time to get the best seats.

After play ended I popped my head round the door in the away changing room and there was no-one to be seen. I thought no more about it until me, Selves, Embers and Gatt got to the cinema and tried to get into our usual places in the front row. Yes, you guessed it ... there in the prime seats were messers Barclay, Mendis, Groome et al; all in scorecard order. Gatt took great pleasure in flicking popcorn at the back of Arnold Long's head so hard that he spilt a carton of Kiora down his flannels. Great days!

And one to swerve

Keep It Up Downstairs (Dir: Robert Young 1976)

This one is rather disappointing. It has a stellar cast: Diana Dors, Jack Wild and Willie Rushton but despite that it never quite takes off.

I remember Wayne Daniel being very confused by this film. He wasn't too familiar with the English class system and some of the subtle nuances of the script went over his head.

Funnily enough some of the overseas players weren't as keen on this stuff as us English lads. Vincent van der Bijl was a great player but had a terrible taste in films. He was always dashing off to the Cine Lumiere or the ICA to see the latest subtitled pretentious French guff. He wanted us all to go with him to see Eric Rohmer's Les Nuits de la Pleine Lune but we had a vote in the dressing room and went to see Chesty Morgan in Deadly Weapons instead.

I batted against some pretty nasty short pitched stuff in my time but Chesty Morgan had two bouncers that I would have loved to face."