The Double Deckers, The Double Deckers, The Double Deckers! Douglas has recently had to have three sites on the internet offering pirated DVD’s closed down and there is another yet to go. It is nearly forty years since this series was made during which time I have had one small royalty cheque from France, otherwise not a penny have I or anyone involved in the making of the programme seen all these years; but someone is and has been making money out of it including music, reissued on CD by Cherry records who maintain they don’t have to pay royalties for the songs. The above is not quite true. I have received small amounts through the Performing Rights Society for the four songs (lyrics) I have in the show which is how I know about the worldwide sales. But the fact remains, had I received according to contract what was due to me, I have to admit life without constant financial worries would have been a lot easier. There is no official DVD and evidently there has been a petition signed by three thousand people (possibly more by now) for one to be made. In the meantime the pirates have a field day and, apart from stopping their advertising, what can one do? Even if we could afford it, taking legal action would be far too costly for the possible returns.
I bought our first house in London because of great expectations, imagining the royalty cheques that would flow in to pay off the mortgage. It just never happened. 20th Century Fox who evidently still hold the copyright have always maintained the show never went into profit which is a load of balderdash considering it has been sold all over the world, has been shown umpteen times syndicated in the states, on the BBC and on ITV more than once and cost peanuts to make, £25000 per episode. It’s no consolation to know I am not the only one to be thoroughly shafted by the big companies or even by lesser mortals but it is infuriating. Big film stars on multi-million dollar salaries who feel they have been cheated can take their studios to task. I can’t.
What is even more galling is that if it hadn’t been for that meeting in Wardour Street with Harry Booth and Roy Simpson when I suggested to them that they make a modern version of “Our Gang” for the Children’s Film Foundation, The Double Deckers would never have come into being. Neither Harry or Roy had even heard about “Our Gang”. I knew of it because of the projector my father bought me when I was a kid and the little rolls of 8mm film that went with it. So for the CFF we made “The Magnificent 6½” and that led directly on to The Double Deckers. And would you believe it, in publicity handouts, the head of the CFF took it upon himself to coyly admit it was his idea in the first place that started the whole thing off? You simply can’t win.