In 1973, a strikingly fresh-faced Chris Tarrant heads to Birmingham to meet the city’s teddy boys and discovers that there’s life left in this distinctly British subculture, some 15 years after its heyday.
1. Shortly before he rose to prominence as co-host of kids’ show Tiswas, Chris Tarrant had a stint as a newsreader on ATV Today. Here he is in Yardley, Birmingham, to catch up with the local teddy boys.
2. Although the subculture is synonymous with American rock’n’roll, the distinctive teddy style was originally inspired by Edwardian fashion. The bootlace or Slim Jim tie was a key element of the look.
3. Another tell-tale sign of a ted is a pair of ‘creepers’ or ‘beetle crushers’, said to be inspired by shoes worn by British soldiers in North Africa during the Second World War.
4. Then of course there’s the signature hairstyle, known self-explanatorily as the DA, or duck’s arse.
5. The movement gained a certain amount of notoriety, particularly after gangs of teddy boys were implicated in violent racist attacks during the 1958 Notting Hill riots.
6. But these teds insist that their scene is simply about music, fashion and camaraderie.
7. They’re currently without a meeting place, following the unexpected closure of their hangout spot of choice, the Hideaway Disco.
8. Dave here explains that most of his clothes are custom-made – a time-consuming and costly process. His wedding suit took 3½ months to be produced.
9. The natty ensemble he’s currently wearing set him back over £50, or well over £400 in today’s money.
10. Flash here admits that he’s occasionally laughed at by children for the way he dresses.
11. Tarrant asks this chap what his parents make of his lifestyle: “They’d rather have me as a teddy boy than a skinhead or a Hell’s Angel.”
12. On this bunch’s relationship with the police: “They have enough to cope with without worrying about us.”
13. On the difference between teddy boys and rockers: “We take a lot of pride in our dress, costs us a lot of money. With greasers you’ve got a leather jacket and a pair of jeans, and that’s about your lot.”
14. Tarrant goads the boys: “I suppose you’re all very smart, but wouldn’t you fancy nice long hair and perhaps a pair of flared trousers?”
15. Their response is fairly decisive.
Footage from Media Archive for Central England
The film and stills on this page are taken from Media Archive for Central England, a digital archive of UK places that mean the world to you. 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to now will be digitised and can be watched for free on BFI Player.
Britain on Film is funded by the National Lottery funding and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The Media Archive for Central England is the public screen archive for the East and West Midlands. An independent charity and company based at the University of Lincoln, MACE acquires, catalogues, preserves and makes widely available moving image materials that inform our understanding of the diverse cultures and histories of communities between the Lincolnshire coast and the Welsh border.
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