The Strange World of Gurney Slade was a strange show indeed. The brainchild of East London child prodigy Anthony Newley, the idea for the show was developed in partnership with Morecambe and Wise scriptwriters Dick Hills and Sid Green, and took place in a surreal atmosphere in which the hero would trip in and out of reality whilst interacting with inanimate objects, animals, or people who stepped out of advertising posters.
Whether the series was meant to be a comedy or merely a sideways glance at life in general is difficult to fathom, although interviewed in 1960, Newley stated, "There is no rhyme or reason for what I do, I merely take life and turn it upside down. We hope to achieve humour without setting out to be deliberately funny."
Allegedly, David Bowie, along with a number of other rock musicians, cite it as an important influence on their early work. (In fact Bowie states that he drew on his memories of it as the basis for his role in the sci-fi movie The Man Who Fell to Earth). It's possible that Gurney Slade (named by Newley after a Somerset Village of the same name) was years ahead of its time, but it definitely proved to be too strange for the audience of 1960 and four shows into its planned six show run, it was removed from its primetime slot to a late night one.
Published on February 4th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.