Royalty, pop superstars and a veritable who’s who of the film world they were all fans of Peter Sellers, the star who was acclaimed as one of the greatest comedians of all time.
 
Prince Charles led the star-studded line-up of devotees. The heir to the British throne adored the humour of Sellers from the moment he heard him at work in classic radio comedy series, The Goon Show.
 
It’s also claimed that after a screening of The Return Of The Pink Panther that Charles told the actor that he had laughed so much and so hard that his tears had wet the dress of the lady sitting next to him!
 
The Prince’s late aunt, Princess Margaret was another Royal fan. Margaret even appeared in one of his comic routines in which Sellers disappeared behind a screen and then ‘magically’ re-appear as the princess.
 
Since Sellers received this Royal seal of approval it seems appropriate that he was also a favourite of The King! Elvis Presley got a big kick out of seeing this British star in action. So much so, that Elvis always had Sellers’ classic Pink Panther films on board his flight when he was on tour.
 
Liverpool’s uncrowned kings of pop, The Beatles were fans and friends who invited Sellers to drop in when they were recording at the legendary Abbey Road studios. An indication of the friendship is that the Fab Four presented Sellers with a special copy of early versions of the songs that were to appear on their famous White Album.
 
Apart from having a seal of royal approval, it might also be argued that many of today’s major movie comedy stars have, wittingly or not, carried forward the legacy of Peter Sellers. Mike Myers, for instance, could easily have his fondness for taking on multiple roles traced back to Sellers.

Dr Evil, from the Austin Powers hits, has an accent that you could say was inspired by the Sellers gift for funny voices. And, of course, Sellers also dreamed up a humorous Scotsman the extravagantly kilted Thrifty McTravel, who featured in a TWA commercial decades before Myers came up with the obese, tartan clad character, Fat Bastard.
 
Another obvious fan is Eddie Murphy. With his passion for portraying several different characters in his movies, Murphy has definitely taken a lead from Sellers. Another movie star who has also gone down that route is Mike Myers’ former Wayne’s World side-kick, Dana Carvey; while the madcap humour of Robin Williams also seems to owe a debt to the multi-talented Brit.
 
Interestingly, since he was a comedy performer who could adopt chameleon like qualities to transform himself into a wide variety of characters, Peter Sellers’ comedy favourite funny man was the po-faced Stan Laurel. Like Laurel, Sellers could use his seemingly rather ordinary features to great effect to create great comic moments.
 
Sellers had an interesting take on his talents. He once said rather self-deprecatingly, that if he had been asked to play himself on screen, he would not know what to do. 'I do not know who or what I am,' said the star whose gift for mimicry and physical comedy has had him rightly acclaimed as a comic genius.
 
Sellers was best known for his performances as the bungling, language twisting French cop Inspector Clouseau whom he portrayed so brilliantly in a series of movie comedies that included The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther and Trail of the Pink Panther.
 
The unforgettable comedy created by Sellers in these films gave him international success. Yet he was the classic example of the star who couldn’t bear to watch himself go through his paces on the big screen. "I writhe when I see myself on the screen. I'm such a dreadfully clumsy hulking image, was his self-critical view. 'I look like such an idiot, some fat awkward thing dredged up from some third-rate drama company.'
 
Of course this couldn’t have been further from the truth. The comedy star, born Richard Henry Sellers, was an enormously gifted performer. That was evident from his early days on radio when he teamed up with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine to create The Goons, a bizarre comedy show which had in Prince Charles one of its most devoted fans.
 
In the Goon Shows, Sellers and crew combined comedy and music he played the drums. He also managed to mix music and laughter successfully enough to have a few hits in the pop charts. He duetted with Sophia Loren on Goodness Gracious Me in 1960 and reached the top five. A year later Sellers and Loren proved that hit was not a flash in the pan when they took the comic number Bangers And Mash into the UK charts.

Sellers also had a couple of solo hit records - Any Old Iron in 1957 and a hilarious cover of The Beatles song A Hard Day's Night in 1965. The comic take on a Beatles classic was inspired since Sellers did it in the style of Laurence Olivier as Richard III!
 
Tragically, Peter Sellers died at a relatively young age 54  from heart disease. He had had health problems since suffering a series of heart attacks on the set of Kiss Me Stupid. And although he won Oscar nominations for his portrayal of Chauncey Gardener in Being There and a trio of roles mad German scientist, the US President and a ‘chocks away’ sort of RAF officer in Dr Strangelove, it is as Clouseau that Sellers is most affectionately remembered.
 
Remarkably though, the role of Clouseau was not originally intended to be one that Sellers would play. Director Blake Edwards had cast another man of many voices, Peter Ustinov, as the dotty detective in the first of The Pink Panther comedies, which was filmed in Rome.
 
But, at the last minute, Ustinov backed out of the production, which had already suffered from Ava Gardner having quit the all-star cast. 'We were desperate,' recalls Blake Edwards, who was not convinced that Sellers was the solution for his problems.
 
For starters, the director was not fully aware of Sellers’ talents or indeed what he really looked like. The only movie in which he had seen the English comedy star in action had been I’m All Right Jack, the 1959 British comedy in which he had portrayed the stubborn trade union official Fred Kite. On the evidence of that performance, Edwards saw Sellers as ‘a pudgy Cockney’, not realising that the character on screen was just one of the many comic characters that Sellers had in his vast repertoire.
 
But if it was a casting that Edwards had considered to be a gamble, then it was one of the best risks that the director ever took. Sellers made such an impact as Clouseau that he completely overshadowed David Niven, who had originally been seen as the star of The Pink Panther. Once the comedic genius of Sellers appeared on screen it was obvious that he was the star of the film and that with Clouseau he had given birth to a figure who would become a comedy icon.
 
Interestingly, the development of one of the classic Clouseau characteristics his absurd manner of pronouncing words - was developed after that first Pink Panther movie. Apparently, before the cameras rolled on A Shot In The Dark a film, which Sellers had very reluctantly agreed to appear in he had gone off to Paris for a short break.

Upon his return to the film set, Sellers had acquired this hilarious and peculiar accent. He told Blake Edwards that he had discovered it quite by accident. 'I ran into a concierge in Paris, who talked like this,' Sellers explained to his director. It was a choice piece of luck since it’s Clouseau’s marvellous mangling of language  a sort of absurd Franglais - that everyone who has seen the Pink Panther movies usually tries to copy.
 
Not surprisingly, since the humour in these movies is timeless, there was always talk of filming new versions of The Pink Panther comedies. At the outset it appeared that Mike Myers was a potential Inspector Clouseau.

Oscar winner Kevin Spacey was also suggested as someone who might tackle the role of the legendary French policeman. Then, of course, the role went to Steve Martin who has now portrayed Clouseau in a couple of remakes.
 
We have also been treated to Hollywood’s view of the life and times of Sellers with the filming of Roger Lewis' best-selling biography The Life & Death Of Peter Sellers. Again there was debate about who ought to be cast in the title role. Britt Ekland, a former wife of Sellers, was of the opinion that Kevin Kline was the perfect choice to portray her famous husband.

When you recall Kline’s performance in A Fish Called Wanda, you can see where Ms Ekland was coming from. Another one-time contender for the role of the comedy star was Gary Oldman, who had previously portrayed Sid Vicious and President Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

There was no doubt that Oldman was a fan of Sellers because he said: "He was one of the greats, but not many people really knew him. He's an absolute master, an interesting guy."
 
Finally the role went to someone who came completely from left field Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush who was cast opposite Charlize Theron as Britt Ekland. In the movie Rush looked and behaved exactly like Sellers. But he confessed that this was a role that he had been reluctant to accept because he was so aware of the burden of portraying such an iconic figure.
 
While Geoffrey Rush, gave the performance his best shot you can’t help feeling that for fans of the late, great Peter Sellers any impersonation was only a pale shadow of the real thing.

The Pink Panther (1963) Blu-ray Special Edition is Available on 9 February 2009 from MGM and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Royalty, pop superstars and a veritable who’s who of the film world they were all fans of Peter Sellers, the star who was acclaimed as one of the greatest comedians of all time.
 
Prince Charles led the star-studded line-up of devotees. The heir to the British throne adored the humour of Sellers from the moment he heard him at work in classic radio comedy series, The Goon Show.
 
It’s also claimed that after a screening of The Return Of The Pink Panther that Charles told the actor that he had laughed so much and so hard that his tears had wet the dress of the lady sitting next to him!
 
The Prince’s late aunt, Princess Margaret was another Royal fan. Margaret even appeared in one of his comic routines in which Sellers disappeared behind a screen and then ‘magically’ re-appear as the princess.
 
Since Sellers received this Royal seal of approval it seems appropriate that he was also a favourite of The King! Elvis Presley got a big kick out of seeing this British star in action. So much so, that Elvis always had Sellers’ classic Pink Panther films on board his flight when he was on tour.
 
Liverpool’s uncrowned kings of pop, The Beatles were fans and friends who invited Sellers to drop in when they were recording at the legendary Abbey Road studios. An indication of the friendship is that the Fab Four presented Sellers with a special copy of early versions of the songs that were to appear on their famous White Album.
 
Apart from having a seal of royal approval, it might also be argued that many of today’s major movie comedy stars have, wittingly or not, carried forward the legacy of Peter Sellers. Mike Myers, for instance, could easily have his fondness for taking on multiple roles traced back to Sellers.

Dr Evil, from the Austin Powers hits, has an accent that you could say was inspired by the Sellers gift for funny voices. And, of course, Sellers also dreamed up a humorous Scotsman the extravagantly kilted Thrifty McTravel, who featured in a TWA commercial decades before Myers came up with the obese, tartan clad character, Fat Bastard.
 
Another obvious fan is Eddie Murphy. With his passion for portraying several different characters in his movies, Murphy has definitely taken a lead from Sellers. Another movie star who has also gone down that route is Mike Myers’ former Wayne’s World side-kick, Dana Carvey; while the madcap humour of Robin Williams also seems to owe a debt to the multi-talented Brit.
 
Interestingly, since he was a comedy performer who could adopt chameleon like qualities to transform himself into a wide variety of characters, Peter Sellers’ comedy favourite funny man was the po-faced Stan Laurel. Like Laurel, Sellers could use his seemingly rather ordinary features to great effect to create great comic moments.
 
Sellers had an interesting take on his talents. He once said rather self-deprecatingly, that if he had been asked to play himself on screen, he would not know what to do. 'I do not know who or what I am,' said the star whose gift for mimicry and physical comedy has had him rightly acclaimed as a comic genius.
 
Sellers was best known for his performances as the bungling, language twisting French cop Inspector Clouseau whom he portrayed so brilliantly in a series of movie comedies that included The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther and Trail of the Pink Panther.
 
The unforgettable comedy created by Sellers in these films gave him international success. Yet he was the classic example of the star who couldn’t bear to watch himself go through his paces on the big screen. "I writhe when I see myself on the screen. I'm such a dreadfully clumsy hulking image, was his self-critical view. 'I look like such an idiot, some fat awkward thing dredged up from some third-rate drama company.'
 
Of course this couldn’t have been further from the truth. The comedy star, born Richard Henry Sellers, was an enormously gifted performer. That was evident from his early days on radio when he teamed up with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine to create The Goons, a bizarre comedy show which had in Prince Charles one of its most devoted fans.
 
In the Goon Shows, Sellers and crew combined comedy and music he played the drums. He also managed to mix music and laughter successfully enough to have a few hits in the pop charts. He duetted with Sophia Loren on Goodness Gracious Me in 1960 and reached the top five. A year later Sellers and Loren proved that hit was not a flash in the pan when they took the comic number Bangers And Mash into the UK charts.

Sellers also had a couple of solo hit records - Any Old Iron in 1957 and a hilarious cover of The Beatles song A Hard Day's Night in 1965. The comic take on a Beatles classic was inspired since Sellers did it in the style of Laurence Olivier as Richard III!
 
Tragically, Peter Sellers died at a relatively young age 54  from heart disease. He had had health problems since suffering a series of heart attacks on the set of Kiss Me Stupid. And although he won Oscar nominations for his portrayal of Chauncey Gardener in Being There and a trio of roles mad German scientist, the US President and a ‘chocks away’ sort of RAF officer in Dr Strangelove, it is as Clouseau that Sellers is most affectionately remembered.
 
Remarkably though, the role of Clouseau was not originally intended to be one that Sellers would play. Director Blake Edwards had cast another man of many voices, Peter Ustinov, as the dotty detective in the first of The Pink Panther comedies, which was filmed in Rome.
 
But, at the last minute, Ustinov backed out of the production, which had already suffered from Ava Gardner having quit the all-star cast. 'We were desperate,' recalls Blake Edwards, who was not convinced that Sellers was the solution for his problems.
 
For starters, the director was not fully aware of Sellers’ talents or indeed what he really looked like. The only movie in which he had seen the English comedy star in action had been I’m All Right Jack, the 1959 British comedy in which he had portrayed the stubborn trade union official Fred Kite. On the evidence of that performance, Edwards saw Sellers as ‘a pudgy Cockney’, not realising that the character on screen was just one of the many comic characters that Sellers had in his vast repertoire.
 
But if it was a casting that Edwards had considered to be a gamble, then it was one of the best risks that the director ever took. Sellers made such an impact as Clouseau that he completely overshadowed David Niven, who had originally been seen as the star of The Pink Panther. Once the comedic genius of Sellers appeared on screen it was obvious that he was the star of the film and that with Clouseau he had given birth to a figure who would become a comedy icon.
 
Interestingly, the development of one of the classic Clouseau characteristics his absurd manner of pronouncing words - was developed after that first Pink Panther movie. Apparently, before the cameras rolled on A Shot In The Dark a film, which Sellers had very reluctantly agreed to appear in he had gone off to Paris for a short break.

Upon his return to the film set, Sellers had acquired this hilarious and peculiar accent. He told Blake Edwards that he had discovered it quite by accident. 'I ran into a concierge in Paris, who talked like this,' Sellers explained to his director. It was a choice piece of luck since it’s Clouseau’s marvellous mangling of language  a sort of absurd Franglais - that everyone who has seen the Pink Panther movies usually tries to copy.
 
Not surprisingly, since the humour in these movies is timeless, there was always talk of filming new versions of The Pink Panther comedies. At the outset it appeared that Mike Myers was a potential Inspector Clouseau.