Who's In It? etc.

The film 'It Couldn't Happen Here' was directed by Jack Bond, starred Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, co-starred Joss Ackland, Neil Dickson, Gareth Hunt and Barbara Windsor.
It was released on 8th July 1988 to "mixed" reviews although it did win an award at the Houston film festival.
It contains classic Pet Shop Boys tracks such as, 'It's A Sin', 'West End Girls', 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?', 'Rent' , 'Always On My Mind', 'King's Cross', 'Two Divided By Zero', 'It Couldn't Happen Here' and 'One More Chance'.
It was filmed in three weeks during the autumn of 1987, mainly in Clacton and London (England).

Film Poster

What Happens?

Neil said that "The story is basically us playing our songs as we drive to London in this car and meet phantom-like figures, it'a quite complicated".

The film begins on Clacton beach early one morning, some dancers are limbering up. Neil appears with his bicycle, cycling to a kiosk ('It Couldn't Happen Here' is playing), where he buys some postcards while the kiosk keeper (Gareth Hunt) moans about politicians and the faults of the modern world. Neil ignores him and writes out his postcards.
Chris, meanwhile is packing everything, including his bicycle, into a trunk upstairs at a bed and breakfast. He runs downstairs and waits for the landlady (Barbara Windsor) to bring him breakfast while clearly irked by the appalling jokes being made by a novelty salesman (Gareth Hunt, again) at the next table. When breakfast, a huge tray of fried eggs, sausages, etc., finally appears Chris silently empties it over the landlady and departs into the street. He runs along the promenade, chased by a group of Hell's Angels on bikes. Meanwhile Neil cycles along the beach, when a priest (Joss Ackland) recites verse and leads a party of school children. Two of the boys - the Pet Shop Boys at an earlier age - run into the pier. Inside Neil is seeing an exotically dress female fortune teller, as he leaves "she" uncovers her face to reveal Chris. The school children meanwhile look in a "what the butler saw" viewing machine and see a short bedroom farce - a supposedly sexy slapstick performance featuring a square (Chris) and a butler (Neil) making advances to a French maid. The priest catches them and shouts more frightening verse, they escape into the amusement arcade where they see an assortment of oddities and horrors, including a rock star (Neil) in a gold tassled suit. They slip into the theatre where they see "nuns" perform a risqué dance routine (to 'It's A Sin') before they're both caught and reprimanded by the priest. It's now evening and the priest drags the boys onto the open pier in the rain and stands near a ship, commanding twelve fishermen to haul a huge cross out of the sea while addressing the sky.
Neil and Chris pass three rappers performing ('West End Girls') and go to buy a posh old car. They wait, glancing contemptuously and occasionally trying to interrupt, as the salesman insists on presenting his full sales spiel, they pay in cash and drive off. The radio news tells of a hitchhiker who has hacked to death three people who have given him lifts. Chris stops for a girl hitchhiker but when the car door opens it's a man (Joss Ackland again) fitting the murderer's description who gets in, proceeding (as 'Always On My Mind' plays) to recite the same verse as the priest had quoted previously. Eventually he asks to be let out, the Pet Shop Boys continue, untouched.
They arrive at a transport cafe where they're sat next to a traveller (Gareth Hunt, once again). They order an inappropriate gourmet meal, the waitress doesn't flinch. At another table a pilot (Neil Dickson) fiddles frustratedly with a hand-held computer game that goes "divided by...divided". A voice from the traveller's briefcase asks for itself to be let out, reluctantly the traveller does so, revealing a ventriloquist's dummy. After a little chat the dummy starts philosophising about the concept of time - in particular whether time can be likened to a teacup in that a teacup is no longer a teacup if no one has the intention to use it as such. To shut him up Neil puts a record on the jukebox ('Rent') and the wall of the cafe rises to reveal a dance troupe.
Meanwhile the pilot is seen back in his office studying a book on time. After a while he reaches a conclusion he finds disturbing - "the man's a blasted existentialist" - and jumps into his plane, determined to put an end to such daftness. Neil and Chris are driving down a pleasant country lane when (to the sound of 'Two Divided By Zero') the pilot attacks. The car is riddled with bullets, the Pet Shop Boys drive on, untouched.
They draw up at a phone box which is being vandalised by a group of vicious looking youths. Instead of laying into Neil they politely open the door for him and he phones his mother (Barbara Windsor, again). The two of them exchange lines (of 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?'). At the end Neil puts his head against the broken glass and blood appears.
In a suburban street a commuter leaves home, there's a scantily clad woman in his upstairs window. He is covered in flames, though he doesn't seem to notice. At the railway station, as a zebra is led into one goods van, Neil and Chris sit on the platform then get into another van where a snake coils itself around them.
At Paddington, where soldiers mingle round, as if during wartime, a limo waits for them. They drive through a tunnel as the chauffeur (Neil Dickson, again) quotes passages from Milton's Paradise Lost at them, and pass safely through a battlefield full of explosions. The chauffeur derides and ridicules them as they pull up and enter a club. Chris and Neil begin performing ('One More Chance'), and the club fills with dancers, competitor numbers on their back. At the end Neil and Chris walk up the stairs. On their back are competitor's numbers too, except that both of them read "0".

Film Stills

Gareth Hunt and Chris Lowe Neil Dickson
Barbara Windsor The Posh Old Car The Zebra
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe The Commuter On Fire

The information and film stills on this page were sauced from the book Annually.