With less than a month until Chitty takes flight, here are 10 fun facts about the most fantasmagorical musical in the history of everything!
1 – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the only children’s book written by James Bond author Ian Fleming.
2 – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was based on two cars Fleming had driven – his own Standard Tourer, which he drove in Switzerland in the late 1920s, and a chain-driven customised Mercedes with a 23-litre 6-cyclinder Mayback aero-engine which he’d seen the car’s owner Count Louis Zborowski race.
3 – The vehicle was named after the noise it made.
4 – The car for the first British stage production cost £750,000 to build and is listed in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive stage prop ever.
5 – Michael Ball played Caractacus Potts in the first production at the London Palladium in April 2002 with Truly Scrumptious played by Emma Williams – who last Christmas starred alongside Darren Day in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Playhouse.
6 – The song Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by the Sherman Brothers was nominated for a film Oscar. They wrote several new songs for the theatre version.
7 – The film, loosely based on the novel was made in 1968 starring Dick Van Dyke and with a screenplay written by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes (who directed the movie). The producer Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli had made James Bond films based on Fleming’s 007 books and Chitty the film featured two actors from Bond movies – Gert Frobe (Goldfinger) and Desmond Llewelyn (Q).
8 – The car was designed by the film’s production designer Ken Adam and cartoonist Rowland Emett. Built in Hertfordshire in 1967, it was fitted with a Ford 3000 V6 engine and automatic transmission and allocated a genuine UK registration.
9 – Six cars were created for the film, including a fully functional road-going car with UK registration GEN 11 now owned by New Zealand film director Peter Jackson, who made The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
10 – The part of Truly Scrumptious in the film was originally offered to Julie Andrews which would have reunited her with Dick Van Dyke after their success in Mary Poppins. She turned it down as being too close to the Poppins character.
The new production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang directed by James Brining opens at West Yorkshire Playhouse, from 2 Dec to 30 Jan.