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That amazing day in Moor Park when 80,000 people saw the apes running wild

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Sometimes it requires the passage of time for you to finally acknowledge the real significance of local moments in history.

This is certainly the case for one wild event which happened in Moor Park 36 years ago.

Because on the Spring Bank Holiday weekend of May 30/31, 1976, an astonishing 80,000 strong crowd of Prestonians witnessed a live performance from the actual cast of the TV series Planet of the Apes.

It would have been a sight of wonder and weirdness and one of great fanfare.

But there was little attention awarded to it that week’s editions of the Lancashire Evening Post.

Not one photograph of the event was published in the newspaper – the writers of the day favouring a re-enactment of the Battle of Preston.

But, under a tag of an Evening Post Trade Feature, the LEP highlighted the show on Friday, May 28 of that year.

It declared the Metro 76 event as “one of the largest gatherings of attractions ever held in theUK”.

Starting at 11am on both days with an entrance fees of 80p for adults and 40p for juveniles, the shows ran until dusk with the mock Civil War clash deemed the highlight.

In fact, the Planet of the Apes show merited just one sentence in the newspaper.

It said: “The original cast from Planet of the Apes will stage a full show on the park with soundtrack – but only the gorillas will be allowed to ride the horses!”

The Planet of the Apes TV series had capturd the imagination of Britain in the 1970s.

In 1975, the small and relatively inexperienced PR and promotions company Television Character Promotions (TVC) secured a great deal.

It got rights from Twentieth Century Fox to arrange a string of personal appearances and public performances by Apes characters.

These occurred across the UK between 1975-1978.

Television Character Promotions provided live Ape events of two types: (1) personal appearances by a couple of costumed characters, who would pose for photographs with fans and offer ape autographs, generally at supermarkets and shopping centres; and (2) a set-piece live show performed by a full cast. The shows were written by Mike McCarthy, directed by McCarthy and Tom McCabe, and produced by Michael A Caulfield and current Everton FC owner Bill Kenwright.

 

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