THE death of veteran entertainer Max Bygraves has prompted villagers to look back at the time he filmed in north Hampshire.
The actor, comedian and singer played the lead role in the 1956 film Charley Moon, parts of which were shot in Greywell, South Warnborough and Upton Grey.
The 89-year-old died in his sleep last Friday at his home in Queensland, Australia. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Charley Moon, which also starred Dennis Price, Shirley Eaton and Patricia Driscoll, tells the story of a country boy who finds success in the West End but misses life in his home village.
During the summer of 1955, parts of Upton Grey and Greywell were transformed into the fictional village of Summerford. The pond at Upton Grey was refilled, and new signs were put on the village post office.
Eric Fisher, of Tulip Close, Kempshott, lived in Upton Grey in 1955 and remembers the visit of the film crew.
The 82-year-old told The Gazette : “Upton Grey was the HQ. They used to have meals in the village hall, and my two children used to go in there and have some food and speak to the actors.
“Max Bygraves used to come into the village pub at night to talk to the locals and my dad was one of his favourites because he was quite a good singer.”
Mr Fisher’s son and daughter, and his father, appeared in the film as extras.
Richard Anscombe was a 12-year-old living in Up Nately when the filming took place.
The 72-year-old, who now lives in Upton Grey, said: “We were all surprised that a film was being made so close to us. We all cycled over to Greywell Mill to watch it.”
Mr Anscombe put on a showing of Charley Moon in Upton Grey this year as part of the village’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
On July 1, 1955, The Gazette published a picture of Mr Bygraves standing outside The George Hotel, in High Street, Odiham, before he started a day of filming.