Retrospective: Telly Savalas Looks at Birmingham

Major Waffle
Telly Savalas Looks at Birmingham - a classic Quota Quickies travelogue from the late 1970s in which Telly Savalas takes a fond look at Birmingham and all it has to offer.

Let me say here and now - I absolutely adore this video. Anyone who doubts the value of YouTube - or the Internet for that matter - need only watch this video to see strong evidence as to why the Internet is a force for good. It's called Telly Savalas Looks at Birmingham. And it's an absolute corker of a video.

It's hard to believe that it's attracted less than 85,000 views since it was uploaded to YouTube more than five years ago. A ten second video of a cat doing an impression of Cliff Michelmore would get more views than that in a week. Actually, come to think of it, I'd like to see that.

But back to Telly Savalas and Birmingham. This video dates from the late 1970s when Savalas was asked to narrate three travelogues - Telly Savalas Looks at Aberdeen, Telly Savalas Looks at Portsmouth and - as we see here - Telly Savalas Looks at Birmingham.

Watching the video and listening to Savalas, you can't help but think he never actually visited the cities he spoke about. Which makes the ‘Looks at’ title a rather clever spin. Or maybe that's just me and my cynical nature.

Leyland National bus in Telly Savalas looks at Birmingham

The promotional films were produced by Harold Baim and known as Quota Quickies - a result of a requirement that cinemas broadcast a set percentage of British produced films. Over three decades on, they make for YouTube gold.

I'll keep the waffle to a minimum and let you enjoy the film. I also appreciate that this is perhaps stretching the boundaries of what you'd expect to see on PetrolBlog. But for me, it hits the tone perfectly. And there are plenty of 1970s vehicles to feast your eyes on - highlights include a Citroën Dyane, Leyland National, two Rover SD1 police cars and a Ford Cortina.

My other highlights? The way Savalas pronounces Birmingham as Birming-ham, with the emphasis on ‘ham’.

Also listen out for Telly Savalas declaring his love of “cherry blossom time in Birming-ham's Bourneville” and how the ‘express elevator’ took him to a view that nearly took his breath away. Seeing the said view, I'd wager he took the stairs by mistake.

Telly Savalas looks at Birmingham

But the film peaks when Telly Savalas looks in on an over 40s dancing competition. No, really, Birmingham clearly held a disco dancing competition for the over 40s which, judging by the crowds, was quite an attraction.

Given the age of the participants, you'd be forgiven for mishearing the accompanying soundtrack as ‘Can't Get It Up’. It's also notable for what appears to be a direct order for the women to flash their knickers. You go for it, Mrs Taylor.

I'll leave you to watch as Telly Savalas admires the trees and shrubs and looks on in awe at Birmingham's “multi-carriageway motorway” around this great metropolis.

Here's looking at you, Telly. Who loves ya, baby? PetrolBlog certainly does.