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Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas

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Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas is the final Bing Crosby Christmas Special. It was taped in London five weeks before his death on October 14, 1977. The special ran on CBS on November 30, 1977, and on ITV on December 24, 1977. The special also featured Ron Moody, Stanley Baxter, Twiggy, the Trinity Boys Choir, and most notably David Bowie, who sang a now classic duet with him.

Plot

Bing and his family are unexpectedly invited to the estate of an English relative for the Christmas holiday. On their way to the estate of Sir Percival Crosby somewhere in South London, Bing explains in song how their families are descended from a Viking who met an attractive young lady on the coast of England and married her. He claims that they had an extraordinary number of children, and grandchildren, including some who may have been among the first people to land on Plymouth Rock, fought wars on two sides of the Atlantic, etcetera.

Arriving at the mansion, the first person who opens the door turns out to be Hudson, the butler (Baxter). Eventually after recognizing them as "the poor relations," he let's them in, and introduces them to the other servants, also played by Baxter in drag. They invite the family to unpack before Percival arrives home, and Hudson invites Bing for a game of golf.

While walking through the house awaiting the chance to see the owner of the house, he gets an unexpected visit from David Bowie, who claims that Percival lets him use his piano. Bing tries to get a sense of his taste in older music (i.e., his music), but his idea of old music turns out to be John Lennon and Harry Nilsson. Later he reveals that despite his reputation his family has relatively normal Christmas traditions. He also tells Bing that one of his 6-year-old son's favorite Christmas Classics is "The Little Drummer Boy. Bing starts to sing the song, and suddenly Bowie introduces a new one as part of the duet called "Peace on Earth."

As his kids continue to search for clues about their ancestry, Nathaniel finds out the mansion was sold to the family by somebody named "C. Dickens" in 1870 who was clearly Charles Dickens. Sure enough, Bing enters the family library, and has an encounter with the ghost of Dickens himself (Moody). He tells Bing that he actually sold it to the Crosby family in 1869, and that many of his characters are based on real people, and that Ebenezer Scrooge was based on a neighbor named "Leslie Townes Hope." Later, Twiggy arrives at Sir Percival's house with presents, and encounters Bing and Dickens. When Dickens asks her how familiar she is with his literature, she admits that she only read his work as school assignments, and wasn't that much of a fan. Dickens appreciates her honesty, and then claims that the characters he is known for creating take on lives of their own, setting the audience up for yet another musical number, where Moody imitates Ebenezer Scrooge, and Twiggy imitates Tiny Tim. Later, Moody imitates Fagin, and Twiggy imitates "The Artful Dodger," and then Daniel Quilp and Little Nell.

Mary Crosby and Twiggy rummage through the attic for old artifacts, and Twiggy stumbles upon a music box with a note in it from the 1920's, from a relative traveling from England to the USA. Bing walks in and reads the note, then starts another song, specifically "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which Twiggy eventually joins. Despite the complete lack of relevance, a pre-MTV music video to the David Bowie song "Heroes" is shown. Sir Percival (Moody) finally arrives at the house, as does the ghost of Leslie Hope (Baxter). Bing overhears The Trinity Boys Choir near the door, and asks Hudson about it, who lets them in, and Bing and the family join them in a medley of traditional Christmas songs. After the standard singing of "White Christmas," Bing gives a standard closing speech about the true meaning of Christmas, promising to meet the audience next time... which in this case is a promise that's unfulfilled.

Songs

Cast

Actor Character
Bing Crosby Himself
Kathryn Crosby Herself
Mary Crosby Herself
Nathaniel Crosby Himself
Harry Crosby Himself
Stanley Baxter Hudson/Mrs. Bridges/Rose/Leslie Townes Hope
David Bowie Himself
Ron Moody Charles Dickens/Ebenezer Scrooge/Fagin/Daniel Quilp/Sir Percival Crosby
Twiggy Herself/Tiny Tim/The Artful Dodger/Little Nell
The Trinity Boys Choir Themselves


Trivia

  • Despite claiming that his son was a fan of "The Little Drummer Boy," Bowie adamantly refused to sing it, opting for the song we all know today.

Reference

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