Comedian Jason Manford loses battle for Chitty car to Derbyshire theatre company

Comedian and actor Jason Manford battled to own Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a car he used when starring in a touring stage show.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 3:32 pm
Jason Manford toured in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang show and was keen to buy the car. Photo by Alistair Muir.

But despite the award-winning entertainer being the highest bidder for some time, he was pipped to the post by a musical theatre company registered to an address in New Mills.

Chitty sold for a hammer price of £19,000, more than double its £9,000 top estimate.

When Hansons auctioneers shared the result on social media, Jason Manford tweeted: “I was the winning bid for ages until some money bags came in and got it! I mean, no idea where I’d have put it but hope it’s going to a loving home.”

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Chitty was bought by Bowden Theatre Works, which produces professional and amateur musicals and teaches musical theatre skills to students. The company, which has its headquarters in Stockport, says it is currently developing new studio space and Chitty will be displayed in its foyer. It may also look at recommissioning Chitty for future use to give other theatre companies the chance to hire ‘the amazing piece’ for their shows.

Natalie Coverley, who previously featured in productions on the west end and now teaches musical theatre at The Manchester College and at Bowden Theatre Works, said: “I’m a believer of the modern musical and inventing new roles to embrace and grow, but you can’t forget the classics. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a big part of many people's childhoods and it’s important that we keep these stories alive for future generations.”

The car was the star lot in an auction of more than 100 props used in the 2015-2017 UK/Ireland touring musical stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Other items to do well included a vintage motorcycle ridden by Truly Scrumptious which sold for £6,800 and The Baron’s car, £2,400.

Showbiz glitter was added by BBC Bargain Hunt filming episodes of the TV show during the auction at Wolseley Bridge in Staffordshire.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “I’m thrilled Chitty is going to a fantastic new theatrical home. It was good to welcome Bargain Hunt to Bishton Hall for the first time.”