What a Whopper

What a Whopper is a 1961 British comedy film directed by Gilbert Gunn. It was written by Terry Nation, from a story by Jeremy Lloyd and Trevor Peacock. Pop singer Adam Faith stars as a writer who travels with some friends to Scotland to fake a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.

What a Whopper
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGilbert Gunn
Produced byEdward Joseph
Written byTerry Nation
StarringAdam Faith
Sid James
Carole Lesley
Music byLaurie Johnson
CinematographyReginald H. Wyer
Edited byBernard Gribble
Distributed byRegal Films International
Release date
  • 17 October 1961 (1961-10-17)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The cast includes a number of leading British film actors, including Wilfrid Brambell as a local postman, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey and Terry Scott. The TV reporter Fyfe Robertson appears briefly as himself, covering the alleged sightings of the monster.


Struggling young writer Tony Blake (Adam Faith) is served an eviction notice by Mr Slate (Clive Dunn) from his rented room in a Chelsea house shared with other artistic types including abstract "flicking" painter Arnold (Charles Hawtrey). Tony hatches a plan to drum up interest in his rejected book on the Loch Ness Monster by faking a sighting of the creature. He and his friend Vernon (Terence Longdon), who makes electronic music, construct a phony monster, which they photograph in the Serpentine, startling a tramp (Spike Milligan). The two friends and Vernon's ditzy girlfriend Charlotte 'Charlie' Pinner (Carole Lesley) decide to visit Scotland to further their ruse. Driving in a second-hand Rolls Royce hearse, they pick up a young French hitchhiker Marie (Marie-France) along the way. They are pursued by Charlie's dipsomaniac father (Freddie Frinton). Tony and his friends arrive at a Loch Ness inn, whose landlord Harry Sutton (Sid James) is trying to conceal dozens of poached salmon from two local policemen (Gordon Rollings and Terry Scott). Tony befriends the local postman (Wilfred Brambell) and other locals, who become more convinced the monster is real when they hear a monstrous roar from a speaker secretly installed by Vernon. The next day, the inn is swarming with people, but their enthusiasm wanes when Tony is unable to produce a promised photo of the monster. He and his friends make another phony monster to photograph, only discover the locals have made their own monsters. Vernon and Charlie decide to get married, while Marie falls for Tony, and the poached salmon are inadvertently loaded into a police car. The film ends with Tony and Marie attempting to escape an angry mob by rowing across the loch, only for the real monster to appear.



Aspiring writer Jeremy Lloyd was working as a travelling salesman of rust-proof paint in the late 1950s when he wrote a story called 'What a Whopper' about a Cockney youth who runs tours to see the Loch Ness monster. After delivering paint near Pinewood Studios, he pitched the script to studio chief Earl St John, who bought it.[1] Songwriter and actor Trevor Peacock provided ideas for the story and has an uncredited cameo as a barrow-boy. The script was reworked by Terry Nation. It was the first full film screenplay by Nation, who had started out writing for Spike Milligan, who has a cameo. What a Whopper displayed some of the strengths and flaws that would feature in Nation's subsequent television serials. Among the positives were his "ornate verbosity" (such as the postman's flowery description of the monster) and his tendency to add new complications at every opportunity, whereas the negatives included loose ends never being tied up (such as Tony's book disappearing from the story), and overt borrowing (such as the modern art parody being influenced by the recently released Tony Hancock film The Rebel).[2]


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