Reader Paul Slade spotted this pair of posters in Bateman's Buildings, the alley that runs south from Soho Square.
At first glance, they look like copies of authentic music bills from the 1960s. But Paul quickly noticed some odd spellings. Otis Reading? Bella Fitzgerald? What was this?
Closer scrutiny found further mystery. "The day/date combinations would suggest 1965 for the Mary Lou Francis poster and 1966 for the Beatles one, but The Beatles live career was already over by October 1966 — they had only three stunt gigs left to play by that time - one at Abbey Road, one at Twickenham film studios and one on the roof of Apple Records in Saville Row."
He could also find no reference to two of the acts — Mary Lou Francis and Porter & the Scuffle — nor to the two venues — Creeper Lounge and Joe's Club Lounge.
The Edgar Wright connection
To help solve the mystery, we turned to the Londonist Urban Oddities Facebook group. Within minutes of posting, member Karen Myers had a convincing explanation. It transpires that Edgar Wright's hotly anticipated horror film Last Night in Soho had recently been filming in the area.
Little is known about the plot, but it seems that one section is set in 1960s Soho. The posters might well be background props.
A bit more probing from Paul Slade then turned up this photograph from the film sets. This confirms that the Creeper Lounge, mentioned on one of the posters, is indeed part of the movie.
Edgar Wright, of course, is the director of such gems as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End.
A closer look at the posters
The two props contain an impressive amount of detail. Someone has carefully designed them to look authentic while carrying fictional information.
The prop designer seems to have been inspired by these genuine 1960s posters:
The first poster is a close copy, and even includes some of the same acts (Sam and Dave, the Mar-Keys, Otis Reading/Redding). The second is rather different, but includes the sam 'Beatles in person' heading. Where the original has Sid Bernstein doing the 'presenting', the pastiche instead heralds 'Smith Entertainments'. This may well be a nod to Matt Smith, who has a starring role in the film. Joe's Club Lounge, on the other poster, could be a reference to Edgar Wright's friend and collaborator Joe Cornish... but that's stretching speculation.
The phone number given on the fake Beatles poster, (GER) 8874, is a authentically written for the time, using the old exchange code for GERrard Street, Soho. Brewer Street, the advertised address of the Creeper Lounge, is a three minute walk from Gerrard Street, so this rings true. However, we don't know if the number is genuinely lifted from a venue of the time, or if it has some other significance.
Paul Slade, who chanced across these posters, has his own fascinating website delving into the details of London history. Check out, in particular, the 'Secret London' panel on the left of his website.
Last Night in Soho is set for release on 25 September 2020.