It Couldn’t Happen Here

pet shop boys by stuart immonen

It Couldn’t Happen Here is a 1988 musical film starring the British pop duo Pet Shop Boys and based around their music. It was originally conceived as an hour-long video based around their album ‘Actually,’ but it turned into a surreal full-scale feature film directed by Jack Bond and co-starring Barbara Windsor, Joss Ackland, Neil Dickson and Gareth Hunt. The original idea of making a film emerged from the band’s immense reluctance to go on tour.

The band hoped that a film would satisfy the fans’ demand to see them in live action. Neil Tennant subsequently commented that making the film made him realize one thing, that he couldn’t act. When the film premiered in London’s West End, a crowd of fans were standing outside the cinema, waiting for the duo to arrive. However, as both Neil and Chris approached the crowd, they went completely unnoticed thanks to their anonymous appearance, and managed to walk past them.

The working title for the movie was ‘A Hard Day’s Shopping,’ a reference to The Beatles’ film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and the Pet Shop Boys song ‘Shopping’ from ‘Actually.’ The clip where a man exits the King’s Cross Station on fire was to be deleted due to the King’s Cross station fire, but it remained at the request of the victims’ families. An album of the songs from ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’ was planned, but was cancelled as it would just include tracks from ‘Please’ and ‘Actually.’ There was a promotional cassette released though which featured most the music from the film and is now highly sought after. The Variety Club Remix of the Saint Etienne single ‘Avenue’ samples dialogue from the film. The band are known for their fondness of the band, having sampled numerous Pet Shop Boys songs.

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