Movie The Breakfast Club’s links to Knebworth House
- Credit: Alan Davies
Classic 80s teen movie The Breakfast Club is being screened on Sky Comedy tonight. Do you know Hertfordshire’s links to the film?
The soundtrack features Simple Minds hit Don’t You (Forget About Me), the video of which was filmed in Knebworth.
Released in the UK 35 years ago this month, Don’t You (Forget About Me) catapulted the Scottish rock band to worldwide fame.
Jim Kerr and Co had already scored a number of modest UK hits, including top 20 single Promised You A Miracle from acclaimed 1982 fifth album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), and Waterfront from 1984 follow-up album Sparkle in the Rain.
However, it was the band’s recording of Don’t You (Forget About Me) for the soundtrack of John Hughes’ American high school comedy drama starring Brat Packers Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy that made the world sit up and take notice.
Written and composed by producer Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff, and initially turned down by the Glasgow group, Don’t You (Forget About Me) topped the charts in America and became Simple Minds’ first top 10 smash in the UK, reaching number seven.
The music video for the single was directed by Daniel Kleinman, who later shot numerous James Bond title sequences including Daniel Craig’s 007 outings Casino Royale, Skyfall and Spectre.
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A little known fact is that the video, which has been watched more than 164 million times on YouTube, was filmed in Hertfordshire at Knebworth House.
Best known as the home of huge rock concerts by such legendary acts as The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Oasis, Knebworth House has since the early 1980s also been a popular venue for music videos, including Simple Minds’ classic tune.
Although Henry Lytton Cobbold, the current custodian of Knebworth House, can’t remember much about the video’s filming, he added: “Because of The Breakfast Club, it’s still the thing shot at Knebworth House that most impresses my daughter.
“This despite us also hosting Shakin’ Stevens’ It’s Late.”
The music promo features Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr and the band performing in a darkened room with a chandelier, rocking horse, jukebox, children’s toys, and television sets showing scenes from The Breakfast Club.
The room – actually Knebworth House’s historic Jacobean banqueting hall – gets increasingly cluttered with random objects as the video progresses until the last minute before finishing with just a chandelier light going out on an empty room.
The Breakfast Club can be seen on Sky Comedy, Sky channel 113, at 9pm tonight (Thursday, April 23).
Three years before Simple Minds took over the Lytton Cobbold family home, a then little known duo also recorded a video on the Hertfordshire estate.
Like Simple Minds, the group would later go on to top the American Billboard charts.
The band? Tears For Fears.
And the song? The duo’s third single, and first UK top five smash, Mad World.
Tears For Fears filmed the video for the single in an old cottage by the lake in Knebworth Park.
From chart-topping debut LP The Hurting, the 1982 video features singer Curt Smith gazing out of the house’s windows while songwriter Roland Orzabal dances outside on a lakeside jetty.
In an interview with The Guardian, Curt said: “It is a dark song but it brings back happy memories.
“When we made the video in a country estate on the cheap, we bussed all our friends and family up from Bath and had a fun day.
“The woman who’s having the birthday party in the video is my mum.”
The party sequence also features Henry’s sister, Rosina.
Two decades after Tears For Fears released Mad World, Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’ version of the song for the film Donnie Darko topped the UK charts, and subsequently won Roland Orzabal an Ivor Novello.
While Simple Minds have never played a major concert at Knebworth, Tears For Fears did 30 years ago.
They played The Silver Clef Award Winners 1990 concert alongside luminaries Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Phil Collins and Genesis, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, and Status Quo.
Their set that day included Everybody Wants to Rule the World but not Mad World, the song that launched their career.
The enduring appeal of the song, however, is apparent from the reaction after Curt Smith performed a coronavirus lockdown version of the song with his daughter and posted it on social media to widespread acclaim.
Another chart star to film a pop video at Knebworth House back in the 1980s was Shakin’ Stevens.
The Welsh singer was the UK’s biggest-selling singles artist of the decade with four number one hits, including This Ole House and Green Door.
However, it was one of Shaky’s lesser known hits, It’s Late, that brought him to the Gothic mansion’s front door at night.
In the video for his cover of Rick Nelson’s 1959 UK No.3 hit, Shaky arrives at Knebworth in a classic car for what proves to be a spooky dinner party.