I cannot afford the Radio Times,so I buy a Daily Mail once a week, not only to relish embarrassment to Mr Blair but for its TV and radio guides in the supplementary Saturday magazine. Thus, I was recently enthused by seeing that Treasure Hunt, in which Anneka Rice had once chased clues in a helicopter, was to be revived. I read that a toy helicopter would be seen this time (also a real one) and that “the original Chitty-Bang-Bang car would be seen”.
This I must watch. I knew that Chitty 1 had been broken up, but assumed that Chitty II had been brought from America for the filming. Of course, although presenter Dermot Murnaghan told us that the car was built by “a wealthy man, Count Zborowski”, who was killed at Monza in a Mercedes in 1924, as I had half-expected, the car was not a product of Zborowski’s at all, but one of the fake cars built for the Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang film and as used for the recent stage play.
This did not deter the clue-readers, one of whom confused Chitty with ‘Genevieve’. The woman clue-finder had to open the racing car’s long aluminium bonnet once she had found it at Higham House, revealing only a Ford power-unit. She was driven a short distance in it, but not to sounds of a 23-litre Maybach engine… So much for BBC research!
But the aerial views of the enormous one-time Zborowski mansion, his famous, or infamous pool, and the summer house he damaged with his fun explosions, and the extent of Higham Park, were worth seeing.
If you want the true story, the late David Wilson’s fine book The Racing Zborowskis will reveal all, with an accuracy that was clearly quite beyond the BBC.