40 Years Ago Today

And so, here we are, exactly 40 years on from 19th August 1979 – the day Mary Millington died. Because she has influenced so much of my adult life and career, people regularly ask me “Did you meet her?” or “What was she like?” but of course, I never did. I was just a small child back then, growing up in the West Country. ‘Mary Millington’ was a name I’d seen on garish cinema posters on the front of the ABC cinema in Kings Square, Gloucester, but Mary’s life was about as far removed from my own childhood as I can possibly imagine.

I was far too young to keep a diary back then, and I’ve often pondered exactly what I was doing that fateful morning when she lost her life. Then, earlier this year, my father miraculously found a drawing I’d done as a child – one of only a handful that survive. It shows a plane flying high over streets lined with dozens of tiny houses. My father (who was a pilot) wrote on the picture “Simon’s first trip in an aircraft” and a date “19th August 1979”. I was astonished by the picture, as it pin-pointed me to an exact time in my young life – a significant day for me. 

Mary has had such a profound impact on my life. I never knew her, but I feel as though I do. I’ve interviewed her friends and family – they are now part of my life. I’ve written books on her, made a movie about her life and now I’m embarking on what will, probably, be my final love letter to her – the upcoming Blu-ray box-set release of her movies.

No, I never met Mary Millington. But she changed my life. I probably wouldn’t be a writer or filmmaker without her inspiring me. Thank you, Mary. For everything.

All words © Simon Sheridan 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on 40 Years Ago Today

Mary Millington goes Blu!

To commemorate 40 years since her death, Mary Millington’s most famous films are being reissued on Blu-ray disc in October this year by Screenbound International Pictures. Lovingly restored in high definition, the collectors’ box-set will include Come Play with Me (1977), The Playbirds (1978), Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979), Queen of the Blues (1979), Mary Millington’s True Blue Confessions (1980) plus my own 2016 documentary Respectable – The Mary Millington Story.

Mary Millington blu-ray

The collection will include audio commentaries, original short films, trailers and a host of brand new documentaries + interviews about Mary, and her movies, all produced by myself, plus I’ve written an 80-page, fully-illustrated booklet to accompany the set.

‘The Mary Millington Movie Collection’ can be pre-ordered now via Amazon.

Image © Screenbound International Pictures Limited 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Mary Millington goes Blu!

Getting Funky in the Studio!

Really busy in the studio today, filming additional scenes for my new feature-length movie out this October! My model, Ruel, I just spotted whilst walking down the street, but he’s a natural in front of the camera!

Simon Sheridan filming studio

Photo strictly © Simon Sheridan 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Getting Funky in the Studio!

Filming with Louis E!

I was extremely pleased to welcome much-loved Liverpudlian actor, Louis Emerick, for a day of filming earlier this month. Louis, who originally hails from Toxteth, has been actor for over three decades and is best-known for his numerous TV roles, including starring in Channel Four soap ‘Brookside’ from 1989 to 2001. That series made him a household name and he has subsequently appeared in Silent WitnessNew TricksBenidorm, Zapped and most recently as taxi driver ‘Mike Thornberry’ in Coronation Street. He’s a wonderful addition to my new film, and actually delivers the very final line of dialogue you hear on screen…

Louis Emerick / Simon Sheridan

Photo strictly © Simon Sheridan 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Filming with Louis E!

The Summer of ’76 Revisited

As Britain swelters in an extended 2018 heatwave, many people’s minds drift back to the summer of 1976, when parts of the country experienced 45 days without rainfall and the UK basked in record-breaking temperatures. Britain’s hottest ever day was recorded in Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, on 3 July 1976, when the thermometer nearly burst at an incredible 35.9 °C (or 96.6° Fahrenheit).

Filming July 2018
It seems appropriate then, that I returned to Cheltenham this month to film some additional footage for my forthcoming new movie. And it’s absolutely no coincidence these scenes are set in the drought of July 1976. We spent a few days filming ice cold Fab lollies, orange space-hoppers, garish tank-tops and some amazing Afro hair. More details on the film later this year…

Photograph © Simon Sheridan 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on The Summer of ’76 Revisited

This is… The End (Titles)

I’m currently extremely busy in the studio editing my new movie, and filming some funky new scenes for the end title sequence. More news in 2019, but in the meantime, it’s going to look something like this…

Simon Sheridan new film

Photo strictly © Simon Sheridan 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on This is… The End (Titles)

‘Respectable’ screening for Open Doors Heritage Day

Every September, as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme, hundreds of great buildings across the UK open their doors to visitors. In London alone over 250,000 people take the opportunity to get under the skin of the capital’s amazing architecture, and visit buildings which are usually not accessible to the general public.

As part of this amazing celebration of architecture and history, The Barge House bar and restaurant in Haggerston, London N1, will be playing host to some of the kinkiest attractions in the country!

Over the weekend of the 16 and 17 September 2017 the building will be taking inspiration from its previous incarnation as the original 1970s’ print-works of David Sullivan’s adult magazines, many of which featured Mary Millington within their pages.

Open Doors Mary Millington

Taking its cue from the building’s colourful past, The Barge House hosts a weekend that will explore the history and culture of British erotica and provide a provocative programme of exhibitions, discussions and performances.

The bar, mezzanine and event lounge will be transformed into gallery and performance spaces that will host stimulating talks, screenings, installations and workshops based around sex in print, celluloid and online, plus the factors that influence porn culture.

It seems wholly appropriate then that my documentary Respectable – The Mary Millington Story will be screening in the venue at 4.30pm on Saturday 16 September, followed by a Q&A.

The full programme of events, and information on how to book tickets, can be found on the Barge House website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on ‘Respectable’ screening for Open Doors Heritage Day

My new movie… coming 2019

I’m very proud to officially announce that for the past few months I’ve been busy directing my new movie. A follow-up to Respectable, which was released last year, my latest film is again firmly rooted in my favourite decade, the colourful, glitter-splattered 1970s.

Although there are some undeniable crossovers with the last documentary – fame, struggle and terrible tragedy – this is a quite a different tale. It’s a story about… Everything.

My wonderful crew and I have been filming in London, Brighton, Liverpool, Gloucester and Bristol, and along the way we’ve met some incredible interviewees, who tell a story nobody has ever heard before. We start post-production this autumn, and the film will be released at the end of 2019 . In the meantime, here’s a shot of us shooting alongside the River Thames on London’s Southbank.

Simon Sheridan new film

Photograph strictly © Simon Sheridan 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on My new movie… coming 2019

Suzy, Come Home!

On Friday evening I was extremely honoured to take a 1970s’ film legend out to dinner in Kensington. Suzy Mandel – the star of numerous classic sexploitation movies including Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976), Come Play with Me (1977), The Playbirds (1978) and Stanley Long’s Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate (1978) – was making a very rare trip to England.

Suzy Mandel Simon Sherida

Although raised in Kent and Essex, Suzy has lived in the USA for nearly 40 years and she last visited her homeland in 1999. She started her career as a fashion model before moving into television and film, encouraged by her grandmother. Her first ‘saucy’ film role was in 1976’s Intimate Games, and Suzy’s appearance so impressed comedian Benny Hill that he approached her to appear in his top-rated Thames Television sketch show in January 1977. Suzy subsequently became one of the most sought-after glamour actresses in Britain, and was twice paired up with Mary Millington on screen in David Sullivan-produced movies. She would’ve made it a hat-trick as David offered her a role in Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979), but Suzy had to decline when she moved abroad.

Suzy is warm, very funny and full of great stories and myself, my producer Claire and Suzy’s good friend Dee have all been trying to persuade her to return home to England on a more permanent basis!

Thanks, Suzy, for a wonderful night out. We hope to see you again soon.

All words and photograph strictly © Simon Sheridan 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Suzy, Come Home!

Happy 40th Birthday, Come Play with Me!

Exactly 40 years ago today – 28 April 1977 – something quite extraordinary happened; a low budget sex comedy named Come Play with Me opened at the Moulin Cinema at 42-44 Great Windmill Street, Soho, and changed British cinema history forever. Regular readers of producer David Sullivan’s magazines, like Whitehouse and Playbirds, had been anxiously waiting for this momentous day with baited breath. Come Play with Me had been relentlessly promoted within the pages of his top-shelf publications since the previous October, when shooting had commenced. Hardcore photographs from the ‘overseas version’ and extravagant flowery prose promised cinemagoers “Mary Millington and 20 nymphomaniac nurses in the rawest, most explicit British film ever made”. What punters got for their admission price of 90p was something quite different, not that anybody seemed to be complaining.

“It had Mary appearing in it, so I knew I could sell it,” says David Sullivan today. “It was as easy as that! The fans wanted to see her. It didn’t matter that she didn’t have a big part. It made no real difference what the film was about. Having said that, I have a soft spot for Come Play with Me. It’s a cute little movie. I was a big fan of Irene Handl. She offered to go topless had she been a few years younger! All the cast enjoyed it, despite what you read!”

Come Play with Me pop art

Indeed, on 14 November 1976, after the film had just wrapped its prudent four-week shoot the News of the World reported, on its front page, that many of Mary Millington’s co-stars, including British comedy’s Grande Dame Irene plus Alfie Bass and Tommy Godfrey, were horrified by the hardcore shenanigans going on. Under the headline We Didn’t Know It Was a Blue Movie, Say The Stars, many of the ‘legit’ actors were quoted decrying Sullivan’s ‘unfair’ and ‘objectionable’ work practices. At the time, the producer was unrepentant, saying: “The sex scenes will make Linda Lovelace look like Noddy!”

The tabloid scandal made for priceless publicity (“There really is no such thing as bad publicity,” says David now), and whetted the public’s appetite for a film which they were led to believe would change cinema history. And it did, but in ways nobody could ever imagine. Come Play with Me opened with little mainstream press fanfare on Thursday 28 April 1977, but immediately broke box office records at the Moulin. David Sullivan had craftily come to an agreement with the Classic Group, who operated the cinema, that just so long as his film’s weekly taking didn’t drop beneath a certain ‘break figure’ then they would have to keep screening it. And screening it they did – solidly throughout the rest of 1977, all of 1978, all of 1979, all of 1980 and right up to 5 March 1981. Notching up an astonishing 201 consecutive weeks, it is still an unbroken record for a British film.

Across the UK the film did brisk business too – opening in Birmingham on 5 June 1977; in Bristol on 19 June and Blackpool on 14 July. Virtually everywhere it opened it smashed provincial box office records. This modest little ‘X’-rated sex film costing around £120,000 went on to gross something in the region of £5,000,000.

So on this special anniversary I salute the longest-running movie in British cinema history, and its star Mary Millington who rightfully deserves her part in the film’s incredible success. Not everybody is going to admire Come Play with Me, but I love it, even if one of its surviving stars doesn’t agree with me. “I think the film is absolute rubbish,” laughs actress Sue Longhurst. “I just never understood its appeal.”

All words strictly © Simon Sheridan 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Happy 40th Birthday, Come Play with Me!