Dracula sinks his teeth into Royal Mail history

May 4, 2008 (The Sunday Times / Brian Pendreigh) -- He may appear in the guise of the undead but Christopher Lee will make history next month by being among the first living non-royals to be portrayed on a British stamp.

The 85-year-old actor will appear as Dracula on a set of commemorative stamps next month marking the 50th anniversary of the Hammer horror and Carry On films.

The stamps, which break more than 80 years of convention, will be released on June 10. They feature six original film posters, including Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. Lee appears on all three of the horror posters, albeit heavily bandaged in one and partly obscured in another. In the Dracula poster, he is preparing to sink his fangs into the neck of a victim.

The first-class stamp shows Shirley Eaton, now 71, and Dora Bryan, 84, among the cast of Carry On Sergeant. Eaton is best known for her role as the gold-painted girl in the James Bond film Goldfinger.

The use of living nonroyals is at odds with the Royal Mail’s policy, going back to 1924, that they can appear on stamps only if they are part of a larger group -- such as the 2005 Ashes-winning England cricket team.

Michael Wolff, a member of the Royal Mail’s stamp advisory committee, admitted the ban was being gradually relaxed.

"Everything has got to move on," said Wolff. "I think it [the ban] will gradually fade away."

The stamps have not been welcomed by fans of Hammer films, who described the poster reproductions as "terrible" because, being so small, they are nearly illegible.

Bruce Sachs, owner of Tomahawk Press, which has published several books about Hammer, said: "These are a real embarrassment."

Royal Mail said the stamps were of movie posters that showed film characters rather than of individuals.

Buckingham Palace said new designs were personally approved by the Queen.


50th anniversary stamps70.75 KB

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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