We can't work it out! Jeffery Archer sues West End producer after losing £625,000 on Beatles musical
Peer accuses Karl Sydow of reneging on a deal to repay investment
Musical tells the story of the so-called fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe
It closed in February 2012 after being met with mixed reviews
By CHRIS HASTINGS
PUBLISHED: 9 February 2014
Lord Archer is suing one of Britain’s top theatre producers after losing his £625,000 investment in a musical about The Beatles.
The peer, former deputy chairman of the Tory Party, has accused Karl Sydow of reneging on a deal to repay his investment in Backbeat, a musical that tells the story of the so-called fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe.
Novelist Lord Archer, who has a personal fortune of about £135 million, agreed to invest in the West End production on the understanding that if the show failed to recoup its investment, Sydow and his company Dance With Mr D would pay him back using profits from a touring production of Dirty Dancing.
Waxing lyrical: Andrew Knott and Daniel Healy in Backbeat which was met with mixed reviews
But the two sides are now locked in a High Court dispute about exactly when and how the money should be reimbursed.
Backbeat, which opened at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London in September 2011, was based on the 1994 film of the same name and told the story of The Beatles’ early days as they travelled from their native Liverpool to Hamburg.
Observers thought the inclusion of the group’s early hits such as Twist And Shout would make the show a surefire moneyspinner.
I want my money backbeat: Lord Archer is taking High Court action
Stars including David Tennant, Dominic Cooper, Gary Lineker and Harry Enfield all attended its first night, and Stephen Fry subsequently tweeted: ‘I am in pieces. Backbeat at the Duke of York’s. So much more than a jukebox. Heart-rending. exultant fabulous.’
But reviews of the show were mixed, with one critic saying it had left him feeling ‘bored and depressed’ and that the lead performers were less convincing than waxworks of the younger Beatles at Madame Tussauds – ‘notorious’ for being unrecognisable as the Fab Four.
The show, which starred Andrew Knott and Daniel Healy as John Lennon and Paul McCartney, closed in February 2012. By contrast Dirty Dancing, which is also produced by Sydow and based on the 1987 film of the same name, has played to packed houses across Britain.
The show’s first UK tour is reputed to have taken £42 million and a second tour is about to begin in March.
Backbeat was not Lord Archer’s first encounter with Beatlemania.
In 1963, when the former Tory Pary chairman was studying for an education diploma in Oxford, he persuaded the band to perform at a fundraiser for Oxfam.
The critic Sheridan Morley recalled a conversation he had with Ringo Starr in the toilets at the time. The Beatle told Morley that Archer struck him as ‘a nice enough fella,’ before adding that ‘he was the kind of bloke who would bottle your p*** and sell it’.
Lord Archer, who was given a four-year jail sentence for perjury in 2001, and his solicitor Martin Davies was unavailable for comment. Karl Sydow was also unavailable.