Neil Innes Rocks Longnor

The remote Staffordshire Moorlands village of Longnor was once used as the setting for a music video by a cult 1960s performer.

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The BBC used the village as a backdrop for part of the second series of The Innes Book of Records. The programme featured ex-Bonzo Dog Band member Neil Ines and consisted of Neil performing a selection of his songs in different settings. Each one was treated as a separate video at a time when music videos were still relatively new. The video that was filmed in Longnor was called ‘Mr Eurovision Song Contest Man’, being a pastiche of many Eurovision Song Contest entries. The video began with a view of nearby Chrome Hill before Neil, accompanied by a group of local schoolchildren, danced across the fields and back lanes of Longnor before arriving in the village square.

Down That Road Video stills

Other nearby locations included a stretch of road close to the Mermaid Inn at Morridge for the video of ‘Down That Road.’ This included haunting scenes of a gibbet and some poor soul in stocks being pelted by medieval peasants. The entrance to Buxton Opera House was used as the setting for ‘UFO Shanty’, being a parody of Dr Who, complete with a time-travelling tardis.

Shortly after filming these sequences Neil said “In the end we spent six-and-a-half weeks on location in Buxton to make the series – and it wasn’t until we got there that we realised it has one of the highest annual rainfalls in the country. Fortunately we were blessed by the weather, but everyone was on their knees by the end of shooting the equivalent of two feature length movies. You’re never totally happy with what you’ve got – you wind up saying things like “if only we had 500 Mongolian horsemen coming round the corner it would have been great”, but the crew put in so much effort that it probably makes up for the occasional thin production.”

Neil 2011

Longnor obviously struck a chord with Neil because he chose to use it on the album that accompanied the TV series. On the front cover Neil is portrayed in front of Chrome Hill near to where the ‘Mr Eurovision Song Contest Man’ video begins. The back cover shows Neil, accompanied with the children that accompanied him in the video, in the lane that runs from the village square to Longnor church.

Incidentally, the old couple on the back cover weren’t married. They were neighbours who just happened to come out of their properties to see what was going on and the photographer asked if they would stand together.

Neil can still occasionally be glimpsed on TV. After the Innes Book of Records his on-screen appearances have included the children’s programmes Raggy Dolls and Puddle Lane. More recently he has appeared in adverts for Quality Street and Legal and General.

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