Dateline Diamonds
'The hottest rocks in Britain are being smuggled by the hottest rockers in Britain'
Sunday 3rd April 1966 – Dateline Diamonds goes on general release

Dateline Diamonds was mainly conceived by music publisher, Harold Shampan, as a publicity vehicle for up-and-coming talent. The plot revolves around smuggling diamonds concealed inside band demo tape boxes, between Holland and the UK, via the mv Galaxy – unbeknown to the Radio London management, of course. The film deserves an Oscar for containing the longest safe-robbery sequence in the history of film-making.

The story apparently caused some suspicion amongst genuine customs officers, perhaps wondering where such a notion might have originated, and concluding that there is no smoke without fire! There are reports of increased customs vigilance over offshore personnel, following the release of Dateline Diamonds, and of DJs having their tubes of toothpaste squeezed out during inspections.

On Sunday, April 3rd, 1966, Dateline Diamonds went on general cinema release, supporting main feature, Doctor in Clover. It was originally expected to be the support for the latest Norman Wisdom feature The Sandwich Man (see Ben Toney's memoirs) and this was announced as part of a competition to win tickets to the premiere. However, a last-minute change of plan coupled the film with 'Doctor in Clover'.

The film is available on a Renown Pictures DVD, with a sleeve quote taken from this Radio London feature by Mary Payne. The quote is in fact the only place that mention is made of Radio London and its ship. Rather strange, considering that the station was pivotal to what we shall laughingly refer to as the film's plot! The synopsis merely refers to 'an offshore pirate radio station' and the blurb centres around the Small Faces, who really don't appear very much. There is also a track listing of the music performed, which did not appear on the packaging of the earlier release of the film. It would appear that this also came courtesy of our Radio London feature. See enlargement here.

(Click on the photo to buy the DVD.)

Dateline Diamonds is included in an 8-film collection called 50's And 60's Films With A Beat. Other titles are Be My Guest, Live it Up, Every Day's a Holiday, The Primitives, The Golden Disc, Band of Thieves and Tell me Another.

Well, they nearly got the film title right. The 'friend' was clearly not
considered sufficiently important for the photographer to take the trouble
to identify him. (From the Francis Pullen archive)

Cast members at the Dateline Diamonds preview.
Back row, l to r: Kenneth Cope, George Mikell, Conrad Phillips, Anna Carteret, Burnell Tucker, William Lucas.
Front: In matching dresses, The Chantelles – Sandra Orr, Jay Adams and Riss Long, sit beside Kiki Dee

Cast List

William Lucas – Maj. Fairclough
Kenneth Cope – Lester Benson
George Mikell – Paul Verlekt
Conrad Phillips – Tom Jenkins
Patsy Rowlands – Mrs. Edgecumbe
Burnell Tucker – Dale Meredith (a fictitious DJ)
Kenny Everett – himself (a real DJ!)
Anna Carteret – Gay Jenkins
Vanda Godsell – Mrs. Jenkins
Gertan Klauber – Meyerhof
Doel Luscombe – Assistant Commissioner
Peter Zander – Spankaren
Geoffrey Lumsden – Army Officer
Ronald Bridges – Garage Attendant
David Kirk – Dock Policeman

with brief appearances (in some instances very brief) by Phillip Birch, Earl Richmond, Mich and Ben Toney

Director: Jeremy Summers

Writer: Tudor Gates - based on an idea by Harold Shampan 

Producer: Harry Benn

Cinematography: Stephen Dade

Editing: Sidney Stone
Music Composer: Johnny Douglas

8th October, 1965, the tug Agama pulls alongside the Galaxy, while Kiki Dee (wearing a white mac) waits aboard the tender to its right.
The Small Faces

Steve Marriott
Ronald Frederick Lane
Kenneth Jones
James Langwith

Songs performed:

I've Got Mine
It's Too Late
Come on Children
Don't Stop What You're Doing

(All available on 'The Ultimate Collection'. Click photo to buy.)

The Chantelles

Riss Long
Jay Adams
Sandra Orr

Songs performed:

I Think of You
Please Don't Kiss Me

(Available with other Chantelles tracks on 'Go Girl'. Click photo to buy.)

Kiki Dee Songs performed:
Small Town
Mark Richardson Songs performed:
What 'ma Gonna Do
Rey Anton and Pro Forma (correct name: Pro Form. See FF 080865) Songs performed:
First Taste of Love
Dateline Diamonds is an interesting and amusing period piece for Big L fans (and perhaps for avid admirers of Kiki Dee and the Small Faces). But as far as Radio London is concerned, all we are given are tantalizing glimpses of the real thing.

The film
is supposedly about Radio London, and not a fictitious pirate – it mentions the station by name, and incorporates footage taken aboard the Galaxy. However, there is little in it to represent the station we all knew and loved. The place where the Chantelles are seen performing in their matching trouser suits is merely a fantasy offshore radio studio created at Pinewood film studios at Denham. It's huge, roomy and nothing like the cramped conditions on the ships. When land-based characters turn on their trannies, the sound that comes out bears no resemblance to Big L or any of the other offshore stations. The movie might have seemed more realistic had Kenny Everett been given the 'DJ Drew Meredith' part, instead of a cameo, playing himself.

The performances in the final sequence, by Rey Anton and Pro Form(a), Mark Richardson and The Small Faces were, however, shot during a genuine Radio London Night at the Rank Ballroom in Watford.

Kenny Everett greets Kiki Dee. To the right of the photo, The Chantelles sport trouser suits with matching hats and hair, in triplicate. Beside them is Phillip Birch; behind Kiki is Earl Richmond

John Sales points out: Ship's steward Mitch Philistin also appears in the "greetings" section when they all arrive on-board the Galaxy. He is clearly seen, wearing a steward's uniform, walking down the steps to the main deck. The DVD reference for this is "The Exchange", and the time is 28 mins 34 secs".

Part two of the Radio London Dateline Diamonds supplement contains
the original promotional cinema foyer photos and film poster. Thanks to Brian Long for the other photos, from 'The London Sound'.

Ben Toney's recollections of making the film (with more photos) are here.

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