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Hello Everybody,
Welcome to my April & May newsletter. April 1960 was without a doubt a career defining month for me. It was in April 1960 that I made my Television debut in the still, it seems, much talked about series ‘BIGGLES’’.

‘BIGGLES’ – My memories.
After Drama School and a lengthy season in weekly repertory at the prestigious Theatre Royal in York, I returned to London in search of an agent. My search eventually took me to the offices of Robert Stigwood Associates, who agreed to represent me. Granada TV were casting for a major new adventure TV Series called 'BIGGLES' based on the popular books by Capt.W.E.Johns. I was sent to Granada's offices in London to meet the Casting Director and the Producer. My lack of experience as an actor did not help the situation but after much deliberation, they hesitatingly decided to send me to the Granada studios in Manchester along with several other actors for a test on camera.
I remember I was the last to be tested after a long day of hanging around. It was a nerve racking time waiting all day to do a five minute scene, especially bearing in mind that should I be successful, it would be an enormous step I would be about to take from being an unknown drama student and repertory actor to a lead role in a National TV Series. The wait and all the tension was worth it, as three days later, which seemed like three years, I was told that they wanted me for one of the lead roles. The relief and euphoria is something I will remember forever. An actor's first big break is very special and I was very fortunate to get mine at such a young age.
Biggles The making of 'BIGGLES' by today's standards was very basic and really quite chaotic. It was a very ambitious series for Granada to take on. There was no filming in those days, where you shoot a scene and if you're not happy with it or if it goes wrong, you just do another take and continue doing takes until everybody is happy. We would shoot a whole episode in one take as opposed to just one scene in as many takes as it needs. There was no stopping and starting or going back and doing anything again. In fact it was more like live theatre than television. The only difference being you had a camera instead of an audience.
We would rehearse every day for a week or more and then go into the studio and shoot the whole episode. Sometimes we would shoot two episodes, one after the other.
Looking back, at times it was really quite bizarre. For example, we would be doing a scene set in an office in London and the next scene would be flying a two seater aeroplane followed by a scene in a bar in Tangiers. We would have to run from one set to the next to get there in time as the cameras continued rolling and sometimes we even had to change our clothes on the way!
I remember in one particular episode we had to sink a boat. Anything like this was done with the aid of models. In this case the model boat was attached to a fine line of cotton and on cue somebody pulled down on the cotton line and the boat started to sink. It all looked quite real but unfortunately, as the boat was half submerged, the cotton line broke and it bobbed up again. A quick cut by the Director helped save the day.
After the first episode was aired fan mail for me from teenage girls started arriving at Granada Studios. After the third episode the amount of fan mail was getting out of hand. In many of the letters I received I was asked if I could sing as I looked like a pop star. As we sifted through the thousands of letters Robert Stigwood said 'Well, can you sing'.......Never ask an actor if he can do anything, he will always say yes but that's another story! For more information on Biggles [ click ].

‘Give Landmines The Boot’
MAG Celebrity Shoe Auction 2010

I am delighted to once again donate a pair of my shoes to this very worthwhile cause. To date the MAG shoe auctions have raised over £20.000. This year’s auction also includes items from Brian May, Eric Idle, Rob Brydon and Joanna Lumley.

April 2010 sees myself and The Flames appearing on Sunday 4th with Charlie Gracie in Middlewich and on Saturday 10th at a ‘SOLD OUT’ concert at The Amersham Rock ‘n’ Roll Club, again with Charlie and good friend Mike Berry.

NEW GIGS. Rock back the clock
Friday 23rd July.
‘Rock Back The Clock’
John Leyton, Mike Berry and The Flames.
Artrix Theatre,
Slideslow Drive,
B60 1AX
Tel: 01527 572639

Sunday 26th September.
John Leyton and The Flames.
Whitby Pavilion Complex.
West Cliff.
YO21 3EN

We are currently waiting for confirmation of Concerts in August. However we can announce a special event on Saturday 13th November at The Sinden Theatre, Tenterden, Kent. Ticket details will be announced as soon as they are confirmed – hopefully in my June & July newsletter. This Concert will be in aid of ‘Find-A-Voice’ charity. As many of you are aware I was unable to perform at the Charity Valentines Ball held in Woodchurch on 13th February and as such we have arranged this additional fund raising Concert. I would like to thank my good friend Mike Berry for kindly stepping in for me on the 13th.
Whilst on the subject of thanking others I would like to thank the many who came to my recent Concert with The Flames in Sweden who made our stay very pleasurable. We hope to be back in Sweden later this year.

World Cup CD single.
‘Hi Ho Come On England’ my World Cup CD single is being re-released by Crash Records in April. The CD is available at our website shop.

MP3 downloads of ‘John Leyton and The Flames’, ‘Twangs For The Melody’ ‘Look For A Star’ and ‘Johnny Remember Me’ by Peter Williams are now available via and other major download sites.

And finally,
Another excellent picture supplied by Nathan Hulse to complete my newsletter.

Always yours.

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