Pictures of a lone banjo-ukulele, weightlessly spinning in grainy black and white aboard a tiny space capsule prove that George Formby was the first man to perform a popular song in space, aboard the Vostok spacecraft in 1961. That’s the claim of retired major Micha Sergevski, now 97, who was in charge of the Soviet space programme.
“We smuggled Formby and his uke aboard Vostok in conditions of absolute secrecy. Conditions were cramped to say the least. The only people who knew about it apart from my technicians were Kruschev and Mr Dennis Smythe, then mayor of Wigan,” Sergevski told reporters.
“We were determined to keep it secret until the West claimed they had a popular singer in space. Then and only then would we show that the Soviets had the lead. Now Mr Alvin Stardust has claimed that he is the first, with the song "Ground Control to Ginger Tom." At last we can release the footage that proves him wrong. The film shows a showing a relaxed-looking Formby in a space suit singing humorous English verses about sexual intercourse, while fingerering a balalaika-styled ukulele, 52 years ago. This is a poignant moment for popular song and space travel."
It is also claimed that Mr Norman Wisdom, another popular hero of the Soviet Communist movement asked if he could shout “Mr Grimsdale!” on board a subsequent Soviet mission, but at the last minute it clashed with his summer season at the Alhambra theatre, Blackpool.