RIP Peter Torquilterrace from The Mankees

2 03 2019

RIP Peter Torcuilterrace from The Mankees

Sad to report that another one of the legendary local band ‘The Mankees’ has passed on to the great gig in the sky (and bizarrely, dying within minutes of his more famous cousin Peter Tork from The Monkees).  

Peter, (a former journalist from Point), was one of the famous Mankees, a group of trendy youngsters set up by local Stornoway businessmen to try and emulate the success of The Monkees. Although of course, any resemblance to The Monkees was purely coincidental.

Up the town in their 60s headquarters where the Golden Ocean is now, local TV tycoons M*civer and D*rt were developing a new show for their short-lived cable channel NBC(C) (Narrows Broadcasting Corporation (Continuing)). “The Mankees” was to be a sitcom centred around the life of a fab groovy beat combo who lived in a shed in Marybank and collected fuidheags in their spare time. Peter got the job because he could write all the press releases and knew someone who worked in the Gazette print room.

The other Mankees were Mickey Domhlann’s, a former shoe salesman, Davey Blones, a former child actor and sheep jockey, and independently wealthy Townie dilettante Mike Nesssmithavenue, who didn’t have to work because his mother was the inventor of Dipp-Ex – the world’s top sheep whitening fluid.

The Mankees all lived together in a big house, drove about the town in The Mankee-mobile (an old Town Council ‘ash-cart’) and had wacky adventures every week. Each episode would have several catchy songs.

Initial criticism of the band for being “manufactured” worked in their favour; when the Stornoway Gazette accused them of being the “Prefab Four”, their record sales in Plasterfield rocketed.

Massive success across the islands ensued, with top viewing figures for the TV series, several shillings’ worth of merchandising and a string of hit singles written (and allegedly played) by hard-bitten music industry veterans of the day such as C*l*m K*nn*dy and the M*cd*n*ld S*sters.

The hits kept coming and the tv show kept bringing in advertising revenue. Songs included;

  • Last Train to Cladh Shanndabhaig,

  • Day Dream Tweed Weaver

  • I’m a Seceder

  • (I’m Not Your) Steading Blone

  • Peasant Newvalley Sunday

  • A Little Bit Mehh, A Little Bit Brue

It was only when the band started thinking they were capable of writing and playing their own material that it all went wrong. Maciver & Dart cancelled the TV series and the band went off and made “(Tiumpan) Head” a very strange film in which a porpoise was played by Stornoway Harbour’s Sammy the Seal and Jack Nicholson was played by somebody who had been to the Nicolson. Or maybe it was the Castle. Anyway, it was widely derided as “fleekeen ruppish” and soon afterwards the Mankees split up.

Aside from the occasional reunion tour, Torcuilterrace’s post-Mankees career was sporadic and lacklustre, but the TV show has been so widely repeated since the 60s (especially since BBC Alba started) that he was able to live comfortably off repeat fees. Nevertheless, he continued to play for enjoyment with his danns ‘a rathaid combo Sủgh Suet Brues. He also maintained a keen interest in the dramatic and journalistic arts, and was never happier than when indulging in his favourite hobby of fomenting schisms in his local church congregation then writing to the Gazette to complain about them.


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