Living Doll (song)

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"Living Doll"
Single by Cliff Richard and the Drifters
from the album Serious Charge (EP)
B-side "Apron Strings"
Released July 1959
Format 7" single, 78 rpm disc
Recorded 28 April 1959, EMI Studios, London
Genre Pop, Rock and roll
Length 2:35
Label Columbia DB4306
Songwriter(s) Lionel Bart
Producer(s) Norrie Paramor
Cliff Richard and the Drifters singles chronology
"Mean Streak"
"Living Doll"
"Travellin' Light"

"Mean Streak"
"Living Doll"
"Travellin' Light"

"Living Doll" is a song written by Lionel Bart made popular by Cliff Richard and the Shadows (then still 'the Drifters') in 1959. It was the top selling single in the UK in 1959.[1] It has topped the UK charts twice: in its original version in 1959 (their first number 1 single) and a new version recorded in 1986 in aid of Comic Relief.

Worldwide sales[edit]

  • 1959 version: 1.86 million[2]
  • 1986 version: 1.50 million[2]

Background and composition[edit]

"Living Doll" was written for the film Serious Charge. Lionel Bart had been approached by film producer Mickey Delamar to write songs for the film. The idea for the song came on a Sunday morning in October 1958 while reading a newspaper and seeing an advert for a child's doll. The doll was said to "kneel, walk, sit and sing". Bart recounted, "I was looking at the back pages and there was a small advert for a doll which could apparently do everything. I wrote the song in ten minutes." The song was written as an up-tempo light rock and roll song (rather than a ballad), and this is how Cliff Richard performs the song in the film.[3][4]

Unbeknown to Richard, his contract to appear in the film required that there would be a single of one of the film's songs released. Richard recounts, "I remember passionately refusing to record 'Living Doll'. There was a day of telephone calls from Norrie Paramor, with me saying I hated the song and that it wasn't right for us." Richard did not like what he called its "pseudo-rock" beat. "It did not sound like real American rock 'n' roll to us" said Richard. Paramor told Richard "Change it. Do it any way you like, but do it". While sitting around one afternoon before a show, thinking about what they could do with the song, Bruce Welch, while strumming a guitar, suggested they do it like a country song. Richard and his band agreed and duly rerecorded the song with the slower tempo.[3][5][6]

1959 version[edit]

The song was recorded in April 1959 by Cliff Richard and the Drifters and produced by Norrie Paramor. It was first released in the UK in May 1959 on the Serious Charge (EP) soundtrack before being released as a single in July 1959. It was number 1 on the UK Singles Chart for six weeks from July, selling over a million copies worldwide and earning the record company's internally awarded Gold disc for the achievement.[7][2][8][9] It also became the top selling single of 1959 in the UK. In the US, it was Richard's first hit single, reaching number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was a number 1 hit in several European countries, including Ireland, Norway and Sweden. The song won Bart an Ivor Novello Award for best song. The single featured Apron Strings on the b-side. It was the first number 1 in the UK Singles Chart for Cliff Richard and the Drifters; although their debut single "Move It", released the previous year, is often cited as their first number 1, in fact that peaked at number 2.


The song is performed by Cliff Richard (vocals), Hank Marvin (lead guitar), Bruce Welch (rhythm guitar), Jet Harris (bass) and Tony Meehan (drums).

1986 version[edit]

"Living Doll"
Livin Doll.jpg
Single by Cliff Richard and The Young Ones featuring Hank Marvin
B-side "(All the Little Flowers Are) Happy"
Released 8 March 1986
Format 7", 12" vinyl
Recorded 29 January 1986 at Master Rock Studios, London
Genre Pop/Novelty song
Length 4:18
Label WEA YZ 67
Songwriter(s) Lionel Bart
Producer(s) Stuart Colman
Cliff Richard singles chronology
"It's in Every One of Us"
"Living Doll"
"Born to Rock and Roll"

"It's in Every One of Us"
"Living Doll"
"Born to Rock and Roll"

In 1986, 27 years after the first release, alternative comedy group The Young Ones approached Richard to record a comic version of "Living Doll" for the Comic Relief charity. Despite the apparent contrast between the anarchic comedians and the clean cut Richard, he agreed and their version again topped the UK Singles Chart, for three weeks from March 1986.[10][11] The single was certified gold in the UK by the BPI in April 1986.[12] Shadows guitarist Hank Marvin was reunited with Richard on this recording for the first time since 1975.

When the song was performed in the 1986 TV broadcast for Comic Relief, The Young Ones announced to the audience that Richard could not make the show and that well-known BBC presenter John Craven would be taking his place. They then introduced Craven, but it was Richard who appeared.

There are many references to Cliff Richard in The Young Ones, preluding their collaboration, including:

  • Rick is a devoted Cliff Richard fan.
  • Rick's fanaticism led to many jokes about Richard being made during the show's run.
  • The name of the show and the opening theme are taken from the Richard song "The Young Ones".
  • In the final episode, the cast of the show are on a bus when Rick yells "Look out, Cliff!". They crash through a big billboard of Cliff Richard and fall down a cliff.




Chart performance[edit]


  • A ^ Before the Netherlands official charts began in 1965, there were numerous independent charts. In 1959, when "Living Doll" was charting, there were four singles charts. "Living Doll" hit number one in the Songwereld monthly top ten chart for October, number 2 on the Muziek Express and Elsevier charts, and number 3 on the Muziek Parade chart.[29]

Other versions[edit]

  • 1959: David Hill (stage name for David Hess) released it as a single on Kapp Records, achieving a minor chart position on the Billboard Hot 100 (US).[30]
  • 1959: Col Joye and the Joy Boys released it as the B-side of their single "Oh Yeah Uh Huh" a single in Australia on Festival Records.[31][32]
  • 1959: Frankie Davidson with Bruce Clarke and the Rockers released an uptempo version as the B-side of their single "You Are My Sunshine" in Australia on W&G Records.[33]
  • 1959: Johnny Worth recorded “LIVING DOLL” (Bart) on Embassy Records WB 347. 78rpm. “Lonely Boy” (Anka) recorded on other side. Accompaniment directed by BARRY KING. (X 9221/ X 9220).
  • 1972: Roger Ruskin Spear did a parody version on his album Electric Shocks.[34][35]
  • 1975: Mud, English Glam rock band, covered it on their 1975 album Mud Rock Volume 2.


  1. ^ "Biggest Songs of Every Year". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Lewry, Peter; Goodall, Nigel (1996). The Ultimate Cliff (doc)|format= requires |url= (help) (1996 Updated ed.). Simon and Schuster Ltd, London. pp. 206, 379. ISBN 0-684-81696-2.
  3. ^ a b Turner, Steve (1993). The Biography Cliff Richard (doc)|format= requires |url= (help) (First ed.). Lion Publishing plc, Oxford, England. pp. 136–139. ISBN 0-7459-2249-X.
  4. ^ Thompson, Dave. Living Doll at AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
  5. ^ St John, Kevin (1991). Cliff Richard In His Own Words (doc)|format= requires |url= (help) (First ed.). Omnibus Press, London. p. 23. ISBN 0-7119-2824-X.
  6. ^ Richard, Cliff (1998-12-26). "Musikbutikken (Denmark) - Interview with Cliff Richard". 1998. Season 1. Episode 13. Copenhagen. Retrieved 2014-06-22. Yes, well [the producers of Serious Charge] were doing a movie and they wanted somebody who was a new pop singer. And I guess they wanted a new pop singer because then they would be very cheap. And I was! I was really cheap. I mean, I was so happy to be asked to be in the movie, I would have done it for nothing. and that's what they paid me. [...] We didn't really like [Living Doll] very much. It's just a song. But we recorded it the way Lionel Bart had written it, which was... [Imitates original beat] And it was a sort of pseudo-rock. It didn't sound like real, American rock 'n' roll to us. And we didn't realize that in the contract, there was some small writing and it said there must be a single. And we said, 'Look, we can't release this record like this.' And one day, while we were on tour, Bruce Welch... Well, look, he was sitting by these two big, stone lions in a place called the Sheffield City Hall. And he was just going... [strums acoustic guitar] And he said, 'Why don't we do it like a country and western song?' And yeah, so we just went... [sings song].
  7. ^ Omnibus Press; Official Charts Company (4 November 2012). The Million Sellers. Omnibus Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-85712-882-9.
  8. ^ Smith, Alan. "UK First Charts & Silver Discs". Dave McAleer's website. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-25.
  9. ^ British News notes: Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (25 July 1960). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 8. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ a b "Cliff Richard UK Singles". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 460. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  12. ^ Listed as "Livin' Doll" - Cliff Richard & Young Ones. To search for, use keywords: Cliff Richard, Artist, Gold, Singles. "UK certification Database". BPI. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  13. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book 1940–1969 (doc)|format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-44439-5.
  14. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc)|format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  15. ^ "Belgium singles chart". ULTRATOP & Hung Medien. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Germany singles chart at". Media Control. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  18. ^ The Official Charts in Ireland began on 4 October 1962. Chart positions before that are taken from the Evening Herald Chart which was a Top Ten single chart published by the Irish daily newspaper Evening Herald between February 1959 and December 1962. "Ireland singles charts". Retrieved 2010-03-24.
  19. ^ "Italy singles chart positions". Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  20. ^ Lassila, Juha (1990). Mitä Suomi soittaa?: Hittilistat 1954-87 (in Finnish). Jyväskylän yliopisto. ISBN 95-168-0321-0.
  21. ^ (nl) van Slooten, Johan (2005). Top 40 Hitdossier 1965-2005 (inclusief alle 'prehistorische' hits van 1956 to 1965) (in Dutch) (9th ed.). Haarlem: J.H. Gottmer / H.J.W. Becht BV. ISBN 90-230-1144-9.
  22. ^ "Cliff Richard's Netherlands' single-positions (web)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  23. ^ "New Zealand singles chart positions". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  24. ^ "Cliff Richard's Norway's single-positions". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 1979). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  26. ^ Johansson, Carl-Owe (1980). Rock Around the Clock - Saturday Night Fever 1955-1978 (doc)|format= requires |url= (help). Vara, Sweden: Dominique muzic-club.
  27. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  28. ^ "End Of Year Chart – Top 50 Singles of 1986". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  29. ^ "Dutch Chart positions at". Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  30. ^ Hot 100 adds eleven: "92. Living Doll - David Hill, Kapp" Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (19 October 1959). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 7. ISSN 0006-2510.
  31. ^ "Col Joye And The Joy Boys - Oh Yeah Uh Huh / Living Doll - Festival - Australia - FK-3087". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  32. ^ "Living Doll - COL JOYE & THE JOY BOYS (1959) - Pop Archives - Sources of Australian Pop Records from the 50s, 60s and 70s". Pop Archives. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  33. ^ "Discography for W&G Records - OZ - 000 series". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  34. ^ "Roger Ruskin Spear - Electric Shocks". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  35. ^ "Roger Ruskin Spear - Living doll". YouTube. 2011-02-26. Retrieved 2016-02-22.

External links[edit]