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The cars of the Rootes Group have had an interesting contribution to both movies and television.

Probably the most exposed is the Sunbeam Alpine. An early mark model was driven by Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, but it was Sean Connery who really put them on the map when he raced a series model around the Carribean islands as James Bond in Dr No. (Ian Flemming actually had him drive a Hillman Minx in the book, but the sedate sedan was obviously not sexy enough for the screen.)

This may have had some influence on Mel Brooks when he put Maxwell Smart behind the wheel of a Sunbeam Tiger... well at least an Alpine with Tiger badges on it (It's impossible to fit a 'pop-up' cannon under the hood next to a V8).

The biggest source of Rootes vehicles is in the English series 'Heartbeat'. Throughout the series, Hillmans, Humbers, Singers and Sunbeams all feature prominantly, though these vehicles seem to have lost some favour with the shows' producers, as they always seem to be driven by evil or at least incompetent people. For example, the old dear suffering from dementia is seen driving her Singer Gazelle through a bus stop, and the 'nice young chap' driving the Hillman Hunter turned out to be a thief. But the worst one of all was Mike Bradley's girlfriend, the lawyer Jackie Lambert. She started driving a little blue Hillman Imp (Mike should have seen the trouble here), after the marriage she upgraded to a Sunbeam Alpine, and then had an affair with another guy and left Mike. The series also has a SuperMinx taxi - which was more often seen on the back of a lorry than ferrying passengers.

A Hillman Imp makes a cameo appearance in "Men behaving badly" as one of the wedding cars. (Lets hope that person did not also upgrade to a Sunbeam...)

Appreciation for Rootes also went across the channel. Jacques Tati featured some rare Hillman Californians in his films, such as Mon Oncle, being driven by the snobbish ladies of the town.

Maybe the fact that Brian Epstein used to drive a Californian led to a series Minx being used by the baddies in the Beatles' film HELP! from 1965. As they are carting away Ringo, they inadvertantly drive off the road, and - whoa ! - the car won't start! While it won't start, George catches up with them - and what does the wiley guitar player do ? He loosens the wheel nuts and waits in the boot. Then the baddies get the car started, as it drives off, the wheel comes loose, and George and Ringo tumble out, and run away. Such is the inherent safety of the car that George and Ringo did all the stunts themselves! (You would never see an action sequence like that in 'gone in 60 seconds !')

Hillman have featured in a couple of Australian programs. The most bizarre is probably the film 'Whoop whoop' about a commune living in an ex mine site in the middle of the Australian outback. An American tourist driving his Combi picks up a naive young girl, only to wake up a couple of days later, in a town in the middle of nowhere, recovering from a heavy drug overdose and married to the girl. The Hunter is just one of many cars around the place that he scavenges for parts for his Combi. (I doubt it would have been much help.) The Dish, another Australian film - but this one about the radio telescope in Parkes which aided in communications during the first moon landing, had the Mayor's wife driving a two-tone series III Hillman Minx. On the small Australian screen, the comedians Lano and Woodley had a short series. There vehicle of choice was a Hillman Hunter Royal, which also suffered a few batterings from their antics. (It also goes to show how good a TV camera can make things appear. The car eventually fell into the hands of the author, and the only thing worth recovering was the engine and seats.)

Musicians who have used Rootes vehicles in their videos include Moby and Custard.

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