French Dressing (1963)
The most famous film made in Herne Bay is Ken Russell’s debut feature, French Dressing, released in 1964, and starring James Booth, Marisa Mell and the late Roy Kinnear. The comic plot centres on Jim Stephens (Booth) a deckchair attendant in the run-down seaside resort of Gormleigh-on-Sea who is promoted to publicity officer. In an effort to drum up interest in the town he organises a film festival and invites a major French film star (Mell) to the town. The event is soon thrown into chaos by the machinations of jealous mayors from rival towns.
The film’s opening sequence features Jim cycling the full length of Herne Bay’s pier to deliver a deckchair ticket.
Other scenes in the film include the annual Herne Bay Carnival and roller skating in the former Pier Pavilion. Director, Ken Russell, returned to Herne Bay in 2009 for a screening of the film.
Doctor Who (1968)
The Fury from the Deep serial was filmed at Red Sands Fort, one of the Maunsell Sea Forts, off the coast of Herne Bay. It was part of the fifth original Doctor Who series, staring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. The story concerned a North Sea gas refinery which was overtaken by intelligent seaweed creatures. Red Sands was also the location of a 1965 episode of the popular television series Danger Man and later a pirate radio station.
Scriptwriter Anthony Coburn lived in Herne Bay from 1961 until his death in 1977. Coburn wrote early episodes of Doctor Who and is said to have come up with the idea of the Tardis.
The Medusa Touch (1978)
The Medusa Touch is a supernatural thriller, written by John Briley and directed by Jack Gold. It starred Richard Burton, Lino Ventura and Lee Remick. A French detective (Ventura) on temporary assignment with Scotland Yard, investigates a mysterious series of disasters, which begin shortly after writer John Morlar (Burton) was hit over the head by an unknown intruder. During the investigation it comes to light that Morlar possesss the psychological ability to influence events and provoke a series of tragedies. Morlar’s psychiatrist (Remick) holds the key to Morlar’s past.
Richard Burton’s character, Morlar, stayed in a seaside hotel in Herne Bay during his childhood holidays which feature in the opening scenes of the film. The building used to film the exterior of the hotel is now a row of residential properties in Central Parade. Reculver Towers feature in the beginning of the film when young John Morlar and his parents drive up to admire the view.
Cockles was a BBC television comedy drama series and much of it was filmed in Herne Bay. It was written by Douglas Livingstone and directed by Barry Davis. There was only one series of the show, which starred Katie Verner and Norman Rodway.
Little Britain (2003)
Some scenes from the first series of Little Britain were filmed in Herne Bay. The comedy featuring Matt Lucas and Mark Walliams was a hugely popular sketch show which began on Radio 4 and then transferred to television, first to BBC3 and then to BBC1.
Herne Bay provided the backdrop for the seaside landlady sketches which were filmed in a local B&B and along the seafront.