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The story of the guest register of the Bay Hotel in Peveney Bay as a historical document telling something of the life and times of Pevensey Bay and our links with the comedy gold of the fifties continues, as the names of the mother and father of Peters Sellers appear in the register, dated in 1960.—Bay Life, 3 April 2018

Researchers discover more names in Bay Hotel Register with links to comedy legends of the fifties

Researchers looking at the hotel register of guests who stayed at the Bay Hotel  in Pevensey Bay in the fifties, have discovered that the father and mother of Peter Sellers stayed there in 1960.

The intriguing entry follows the discovery of the signature of Tony Hancock and a variety of ‘socialites’ and key figures from the arts, literature and early days of radio and film comedy fifties who stayed at the hotel.

Links between the story of Tony Hancock and the discovery of what appears to be the first ‘situation comedy’ script in the country, in the from of a framework titled ‘Vacant Lot’, written for Tony Hancock by Goons scrptwriter Larry Stephens, has already provoked interest in the locality.

The story is set in a place called Churdley Bay and includes both a Martello Tower and a shingle beach. There is even a hotel in the script called ‘The Royal’, which gives reference to a previous owner named Mr. Pevensey.

The research about the script, undertaken by Julie Warrren, who is writing a book about her cousin, Larry Stephens, titled, Glarnies, Green Berets & Goons: The Life and Legacy of Larry Stephens, features in the latest edition of the Bay Life Journal, the independent newspaper for Pevensey Bay, soon to be published.

The intriguing story of the place of Pevensey Bay in the history of radio comedy in this country continues with the news that the parents of Peter Sellers stayed at the Bay Hotel.

Links between the Goon Show and Pevensey Bah are well known.

Episodes of the show, which, arguably, changed the nature of comedy in this country, are littered with references to Pevensey Bay. There is even one episode titled ‘The Pevensey Bay Disaster’.

What is also known is that Peter Sellers had a holiday here in Coast Road.

He was a home movie maker, documenting aspects of his domestic life in detail, with his own commentaries. In one sequence he films his progress through Pevensey Bay in a vehicle, turning the corner at the Bay Hotel. The sequnce shown in the BBC2 series Arena, appears to date from around 1961.

The discovery of the names of the parents of Peter Sellers in the guest register of the Bay Hotel in 1960 presents the intriguing possibility that his parents were here, invited perhaps to see the place that Peter Sellers clearly loved.

What is known is that Peter Sellers bought a house for his mother in Coast Road in the sixties.

Bay Life has interviewed someone in the Bay who remembers his father opening the door to Peter Sellers, who was asking his father if he knew of any properties for sale in the area and if so ‘to contact his agent’.

Putting the pieces of the jigsaw of the story of comedy radio and the place of Pevensey Bay in the story is an interesting voyage of discover. There may be some value to researchers and historians of radio comedy in the country.

Peter Sellers, we now know, once gave a free show to pensioners in the old village hall Pevensey Bay, who were down from South London one wet Saturday in the late fifties. At the time he could probably have filled the London Palladium as one of the star billings.

His cleaning lady here, in the early fifties, was Ethel Wood. The community centre in her name might like to consider adding the strapline, cleaning lady to Peter Sellers to the nameplate.

We also know from an interview with someone in the Bay that Peter Sellers would sunbathe on the beach. A young lad at the time told Bay Life that he saw Peter Sellers on the beach and sang the Ying Tong song to him, at which point he told us “Peter Sellers sat up and sang the song with him’.

Lynda Leventon, whose father and mother, Stan and Muriel Love, ran the Bay Hotel, between 1954 and 1971, is busy researching the names of  people who stayed at the Bay Hotel.

Seeing the signatures of the father and mother of Peter Sellers in 1960 in the guest register directly links Peter Sellers to the hotel and adds another piece of the jigsaw to the story of famous comedy legends and their links to Pevensey Bay.

A pilot arts and literary festival, to take place in Pevensey Bay this August, is to take the theme of ‘Hancock’s Lost Half in Pevensey Bay as one of their themes. The Goon Show is also to feature in the pilot festival with a plan to show some early Peter Sellers films as well.

The showing of ‘I’m Alright Jack’ (1959) staring Peter Sellers, marked one of the moments when he became a mainstream ‘famous’ movie star in this country. No doubt some tremendous opportunities were coming his way at the time. Fame and fortune was clearly coming his way.

Does the timing explain the entry in the Bay Hotel Register in 1960 and the arrival of his parents for a stay? Was the stay part of a visit in which he was suggesting to them a re-location to Pevensey Bay? Of course we will never know for sure.

The pilot arts and literature festival plans to exhibit some of the signatures discovered in the Bay Hotel Register as part of their profiling of the theme of comedy from the fifties and the links with Pevensey Bay.

The signatures will sit alongside a page of the long lost script of ‘Vacant Lot’, to star Tony Hancock, written by Larry Stephens, the first situation comedy in the country (1951), set in a fictitious place called Churdley Bay.

1960: Bay Hotel register..4th.line down..Peter Seller’s parents..[His father was William..]
—Lynda Leventon