The scene in which Young Carl sulks about Marianne was originally supposed to be about eight seconds long and contain nothing but Tom Sturridge sitting on a bench and looking sad. Will Adamsdale and Ike Hamilton happened to be there, so Executive Producer, Writer, and Director Richard Curtis told them to have a go at what they would have done if their friend was in the same situation. He put on "So Long, Marianne" and they came up with everything that remains in the scene.
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This movie was loosely based on Radio Caroline, a popular pirate radio ship with a similar history and style. It was Executive Producer, Writer, and Director Richard Curtis' intention to weave a fictional story around the many pirate stations of that era, rather than base the story on fact.
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Scenes were filmed with James Corden as a rival DJ sabotaged by the Radio Rock crew. These were cut from the movie, but are available as deleted scenes included on most home video releases.
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The scene with Midnight Mark and all of his naked groupies (cut from the U.S. release) is an homage to the U.K. album cover of Jimi Hendrix's album "Electric Ladyland", even down to the placement of the girls.
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Hans Zimmer wrote the score, which consists of only one six-minute cue during the finale, without being credited as composer. He did this as a favor to Working Title Films, with whom he had worked during the beginning of his career in the 1980s. The score track is listed in the closing credits amongst the numerous songs used as "Sink or Swim" and Zimmer is listed, in the fine print, as the writer of this particular "song", along with Lorne Balfe.
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Sir Alistair Dormandy's (Sir Kenneth Branagh's) secretary was originally known as "Miss Clitt" in early versions, but is now only known as "Miss C", presumably due to much being made of having two character names doubling as innuendo.
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Gavin Kavanaugh (Rhys Ifans) was probably based on "Admiral" Robbie Dale, who was a long-term pirate DJ.
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The ship used for filming was the MV Timor Challenger, and much filming, day and night scenes, was done in Portland Harbour (venue for the 2012 Olympics sailing) near Weymouth. The red paint scheme was based on that of the MV Ross Revenge, which was the Radio Caroline pirate ship from 1983 to 1991, and is nowadays maintained as a museum by volunteer enthusiasts, who assisted with several aspects of the movie, including loaning many of the broadcasting and ship props.
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Although purely fictional, this movie referenced many of the actual events surrounding pirate radio. Namely, like the pirate radio ship, the "Ross Revenge", the movie's ship is red with the station's name in white paint on the deck. Radio Caroline's ship, the Mi Amigo sank, complete with fleeing DJs unable to save the ship's vast record collection, and as in this movie's finale, its extremely high mast rose out of the sea where it stayed for many months. Also, a DJ married on a pirate radio ship as Simon does in this movie. Additionally, the DJs are seemingly composites of popular radio personalities of the time, such as Tony Blackburn (also unlucky in love in his early days à la Simon Swafford, when his rocky marriage become apparent in his radio show) and the wacky Kenny Everett has traits similar to Angus Nutsford. Dave Lee Travis, Whispering Bob Harris, American DJ Emperor Rosko, and Johnnie Walker are also seemingly portrayed in this movie.
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Although the stuffy, pompous, reactionary Sir Alastair Dormandy (Sir Kenneth Branagh) appears to be a synthesis of Tory politicians from this era (though it isn't stated to which party he belongs), the 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act outlawing pirate radio was introduced under Harold Wilson's Labour government, and the person chiefly responsible for its introduction was the famous Socialist politician Tony Benn, who was Postmaster General from 1964 to 1966.
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The real pirate radio station Radio Caroline lent a great deal of the equipment seen on the ship. Although the turntables and broadcasting equipment is predominantly from the late sixties to the early seventies, it wasn't used on Radio Caroline until the 1980s.
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The album Bob (Ralph Brown) grabs at the end is the 1967 record, "The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion" by Incredible String Band.
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As in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), where the Beatles "Help!" album is shown at least twice, there were many references to the Beatles in this movie. That time frame was when the Beatles were at their hottest. But because of copyright issues still in place at that time, no Beatles songs were ever played.
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Though this movie is set in 1966, much of the music featured is anachronistic. For example, Bob (Ralph Brown) carries a copy of The Incredible String Band's "The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion", which was neither recorded nor released until 1967, and The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again", used to score a climactic scene, was not released for another five years.
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This movie takes place from 1966 to 1967.
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Dame Emma Thompson and Rhys Ifans appeared in Nanny McPhee Returns (2010).
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