This Day In London’s History
1911: Prolific film director Val Guest is born in Maida Vale.
Although probably most renowned for directing (and co-writing) sci-fi classics The Quatermass Xperiment and Quatermass II in the mid 1950s, the cinematic career of the man who was born Valmond Maurice Grossman on December 11th 1911 in Maida Vale was long and varied. Since his early twenties, he had tried his hand at acting, scriptwriting and even composing, as well as film journalism as the London correspondent for the Hollywood Reporter.
Other notable (and somewhat variable) sci-fi films directed by Guest include The Abominable Snowman (1957), The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), One Million Years B.C. (1966) and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970). He also wrote and directed episodes of the TV series Space 1999 in the 1970s. But Guest did not just stick to sci-fi - he directed Cliff Richard in Expresso Bongo (1960); he was one of five directors for the 1967 version of Casino Royale; he launched the supremely dodgy Confessions series of films with Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974); and he wrote and directed the dire Cannon and Ball film The Boys in Blue (1982), which was his last feature film.
According to IMDb, Guest directed more than 50 films (and wrote more than 70!) during his lifetime. He died earlier this year.
Guest’s directorial debut, in 1943, was a mostly forgettable musical comedy entitled Miss London Ltd. As the title partly suggests, it revolves around a woman trying to run a London-based escort agency.
Londoner Of The Week
A few months ago we briefly reported on Buster Martin, the Lambeth mechanic who was forced by his employers to take a day off to celebrate his 100th birthday. Buster is quoted as saying, “If I didn't work I would become the most miserable sod you have ever come across so I don't want to stop working,” so he much be particularly cheesed off by the emerging news that he has to take three months off work with an ingrown toenail. Buster Martin, reluctant centenarian layabout, we wish you a speedy recovery!
One Thing You Must Do In London This Week
This Thursday at 6:30pm, St. Paul’s Cathedral will host the rather unimaginatively titled A Celebration of Christmas. Billed as “a fun and entertaining evening featuring religious and secular Christmas music and readings”, the evening will feature traditional carols and music from the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir and the City of London Sinfonia. If you’re keen to catch a big carol service this Christmas, you won’t find one in more impressive surroundings than St. Paul’s. Entrance is free - more details are available here.