ALL WE HEAR IS RADIO GA GA… Filming of the Radio Ga Ga promotional video by Gary Taylor.
24th November 1983: Shepperton Studios
After an invite from the Official Queen Fan Club, around 500 fans gathered at Shepperton Studios to help the band and director David Mallet, film their most expensive video yet.
I got an invite at very short notice but managed to arrange my transport via ferry and trains, from the Isle Of Wight, where I lived, to Surrey, where the video shoot was taking place.
When I arrived at the studio area, there were already a lot of fans gathered. It seemed a very long time before we were led from a large holding hall to a small back room, where we were given white paper trousers and tops with a tight hood. We had to put this on over our clothes and we were then spray painted with a silver colour paint to various parts of our costumes. We soon found out we were to become the faceless workers kneeling before the band. We also had to sign an agreement form, that the use of photography and recording equipment would not be used, or was it so we couldn’t claim royalties… don’t think I even read it properly, I was so excited.
When we were shown into the main studio where the video was being filmed, the band were already on stage, having make up adjusted and looking really good in their red and black costumes. Very futuristic. Luckily I was one of the first in and headed to the stage in front of John Deacon. A few of us were sniggering at this point, as nobody had ever seen John's hair as wild and big as it was on that day.
When we were all in, the rows behind were all adjusted into neat rows and the few of us at the front were asked to kneel on the steps that led up to the stage. I managed to keep my position in front of John and as I recall knelt on the third step up. They played the new 'Radio Ga Ga' single through the sound speakers a number of times so we could familiarise ourselves with this new song. The director also got us to rehearse the hand clapping sequences for the chorus, as that was all we were being filmed for, and seemed to go on for ages until we all got it right. We also had to bow our heads while raising our arms, which was very uncomfortable after a while.
Looking around the studio, you could see some of the other props that were going to be used for more scenes in the video. I remember seeing the wall that cracks open in the video hanging from the roof, and thought how large and imposing it was.
During the breaks between takes, we could chat and look in awe at our heroes in front of us - it was just so surreal. I gathered up the courage and asked Freddie if I could have the polystyrene beaker he was sipping out of. He leant down to me offering the cup and said something like "It's vodka and tonic, my dear". As I took it from him, I drank the rest of the contents, as there was only a mouthful left in there.
At the end of the shoot, the band all hung around to chat to us and sign autographs. Thankfully I took a black biro pen in with me and managed to get all the band to sign the arm of my costume and Freddie's beaker, that I was now guarding with my life. I spoke to Freddie as he was being ushered out of the building, and told him what a great day it had been and how good he looked. He was in a hurry but thanked me and added a flippant remark with something like, “Of course my dear, don’t I always.”
I took some photos too, with a new camera I had bought a few months before. As I wasn’t used to it, only a few turned out well, but was a great reminder of an unbelievable day. Unfortunately, like some other photos, they have been mislaid over the years, but that day will remain in my memory bank for a lifetime.