Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Living Doll (song)

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Released  July 1959
Genre  Pop
Format  7" single, 78 rpm disc
Length  2:35
B-side  "Apron Strings" (Weiss/Schroeder)
Recorded  28 April 1959, EMI Studios, London

"Living Doll" is a song written by Lionel Bart made popular by Cliff Richard and the Shadows (then still The Drifters) in 1959. 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

  • 1959 version: 1.86 million
  • 1986 version: 1.50 million
  • Background and composition

    "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.

    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.

    1959 version

    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 in the process and earning the record company's internally awarded Gold disc for the achievement. 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 their first number 1 in the UK Singles Chart. Their debut single "Move It", released the previous year, is often cited as their first number 1, but in fact it 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

    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. The single was certified gold in the UK by the BPI in April 1986. 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 coach when one yells "Look out, Cliff!". They crash through a big billboard of Cliff Richard.
  • Personnel


  • Cliff Richard
  • Christopher Ryan
  • Nigel Planer
  • Rik Mayall
  • Adrian Edmondson
  • Musicians:

  • Tim Renwick
  • Howard Tibble
  • Pete Wingfield
  • Bobby Valentino
  • Hank Marvin
  • Additional material on "Living Doll" and the B-side: Ben Elton, Lise Mayer and The Young Ones.
  • Chart performance


  • 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.
  • Other versions

  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 1972: Roger Ruskin Spear did a parody version on his album Electric Shocks.
  • 1975: Mud, English Glam rock band, covered it on their 1975 album Mud Rock Volume 2.
  • References

    Living Doll (song) Wikipedia