Alan Whicker travels the world on a journey reflecting his varied career. He looks back at the 1967 film that introduced hippies to a bemused Britain.
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This programme contains some strong language.
'This week, on my journey of a lifetime, we're heading west
'for all that's shiny and new, a California state of mind.'
More than anywhere else in the world, California attracts odd, offbeat religions.
Relax... Big breaths.
'My 50 years, and counting, of travel around Whicker's world
'has taught me that, if anything's going to happen, chances are it'll happen here first.'
-Would you go with more than one man in an evening?
Bang, and I shot him right between the eyes.
'Remember, California's said to be just a few years ahead of the world outside so, for the rest of us,
'is this the way it's gonna be?'
Mr Whicker, there you go. Thank you very much. And you'll see that it is gate 46B, 1.45 they start boarding.
The last time I flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco,
I experienced a very unhappy event in a traveller's life, and that is my luggage was stolen.
To be fair to airlines, it's the only time in 50 years of travel that that has happened to me,
and it happened because I had my attache case, as I normally do, on the top of our luggage.
We'd arrived in San Francisco and we were waiting for the car to come round to pick us up.
We were chatting normally and a bunch of Ecuadorians,
who were then working the airport, came by very cleverly,
saw we were talking there,
covered this for themselves, two of them.
The other one just picked up the case and went.
Now...that meant that I had
no passport, no papers, no tickets, no money, no nothing,
and you're very isolated, and you feel very lonely at a time like that
because the first thing any American says to you about anything is, "Show me your identity,"
and you say, "Well, I haven't got identity because those fellas have just taken it away."
Today, I'm sure we're going to be luckier, and I'm going to keep an eye on that case.
MUSIC: "I Left My Heart In San Francisco"
California, that monstrous stretch of the American imagination,
is a vigorous and blatant land of achievers and escapists,
where all America's promises and problems are exposed and exaggerated.
New York may be the melting pot of Europe, but Los Angeles and
San Francisco, these upstart meccas on the Pacific, deal with America.
The state looks back upon the rest of the world with cool indifference.
Since the early '60s, I've regularly flown out to the coast to film,
always with delight and apprehension,
for this is where the New World really begins,
where they spawn every fad and fancy the rest of us adopt within five or ten years.
When last I brought Whicker's World here, I feared that, after the endless exposure on television,
viewers might finally have had California,
yet our series reached number one in ratings
which suggests an insatiable appetite for the goings-on
in this lavish, loony place on America's far-out fringe.
MUSIC: San Francisco by Scott MacKenzie
In 1967, we heard of an explosion of multi-coloured psychedelic exuberance in San Francisco.
Flower power was born in a spirit of gentle innocence, lightly touched by drugs.
Our film was greeted with surprise and incomprehension.
BBC executives, unfamiliar with love-ins, would stop me in the corridors and ask, "What's a hippy?"
The Haight-Ashbury community has created the council for a summer of love in San Francisco.
Within the Haight-Ashbury population, there are many strata of imaginative and creative energies
whose spirit extends throughout San Francisco and the world.
We call upon the world to help us celebrate the infinite holiness of life.
We ask all who come here to come here in love,
and we ask all who live here to greet all men with love.
'Despite the BBC's horror of drugs, hippy drug-taking was so widespread it could not be ignored.'
Among the giant redwoods, Chet Helm sets off on an acid trip.
The tablets will hit within 45 minutes.
Their effects last eight hours.
Though illegal, anyone bent on a trip can still take one if he has the fare, today about 30 shillings.
LSD, an acid derived from a fungus, is colourless, odourless, tasteless and undetectable.
Once swallowed, it's all in the mind.
LSD is not a means of instant wisdom or universal bliss, nor an indication of national decadence.
We've got some more acid over here if you want to go ahead and drop it.
Dropping acid can bring utter peace or utter panic.
Nobody knows how LSD changes the programming of the brain,
but it releases a flood of sensory signals and overloads the mind with sensation.
We're in the depths of something here.
Who knows what they see now, on their kaleidoscopic trip to the unknown dangers of inner space?
Now we'll do it with a little jump, so it's like this. And...
'But of course, not all hippies were into drugs.
'Vito's young wife Sue seemed satisfied with some deep breathing.'
Relaxation. Relaxation. Relaxation.
For immediate energy from our muscles, and relaxation, relaxation, relaxation,
to get the carbon dioxide out for more relaxation, relaxation, big breaths.
You don't take LSD, do you?
Oh, no, we never have tried it.
We don't want to fool around too much with chemicals, and eliminate all the wrongs from our life, like sugar.
But don't you find that most of the hippies are on LSD?
Oh, so many of my friends have just ruined themselves.
I tell them it's a military plot!
Don't the hippies who take LSD and pot, don't they think you're pretty square?
Because the minute they look at me, I convince them
that I'm for real and I'm happy and they would love to be this way.
'Smoking a joint on-camera was something unheard of.'
Spin the joint.
There is dope in the community house
of one of San Francisco's psychedelic pop groups, the Grateful Dead,
tonight getting high without losing cool, smoking marijuana, the mild stimulant known as pot or grass.
In this new hang-loose world, hippy philosophy and drugs swing together,
lightly connected by a lover's knot say those who turn on, by obscene manacles say the rest of the world.
In the States, pot is going middle-class and spreading like prohibition liquor.
As more and more citizens get zonked out of their minds,
the drug cult enters the bloodstream of American life.
Like it or not, we're living in the stoned age.
'The BBC was acutely fearful of the impact of LSD.
'Mick Jagger had just been busted by the Kent police so, for the first and last time, transmission
'of Whicker's World was delayed until the story cooled, when they slipped it out very late at night.
'Hard to believe now there was ever a time when drugs and drug problems were not commonplace.'
That was the summer of love, a short outburst of happiness that lasted only a few months.
When I returned here a year later, the flowers and innocence had died.
'On my 1968 tour, we studied the new American lifestyle.
'In Los Angeles, they boasted about the first computer dating agency,
'promising unlimited partners to satisfy your precise measurements and interests.'
Hello, my name is Alan Whicker...
RECORDED MESSAGE: Thank you for calling Human Inventory.
Maybe you've had a divorce or maybe you have not yet married.
In any case, if you're like most unattached people, you'd like to meet
members of the opposite sex who are attractive to you.
They must satisfy your level of expectation, share your interests
and have personality traits that are agreeable with yours.
What do you truly enjoy...?
If you can match men to jobs, they say, why not men to women?
Certainly, the old-fashioned way of meeting and mating is not proving too successful.
One in every four American marriages ends in divorce.
In California, there are more divorces than marriages.
We select friends for you who are worthy of your background and accomplishment.
They are chosen in accordance with your needs, then we keep on doing this for you month after month...
This is the part of the process, Alan, where we make selections for you from our inventory of women.
-And we shall be doing a better job of selecting women for you in just a few minutes
than you could do if you lived two or three lifetimes.
So we put that on top there.
All those are the proper height.
All women under 5'6" are in this card, so we put that on top there.
People with low outdoor interests - you have low outdoor interests, correct?
We want that to be alike and so therefore we put that low outdoor interests card on there.
That cuts down quite a number of people.
We have here high aesthetic interest. Let's put that on.
Now, as we put that on, that's going to cut down people to quite an extent
because I'd say there's a minority of people who have as high an aesthetic interest as you have.
So therefore, let's see what we have in the way of selections for you.
The first one we would select for you here is number 7670.
The next one is 5014.
The next one is 3414.
There can be a difference of course between specification and the actual model. It was an anxious time.
My first date could be anyone for those tests concerned obscure facets
like nurture and support, and social extroversion.
The computer produces the phone numbers but you have to generate your own sparks.
I was introduced to a man... who,
in the course of our conversation, told me that he had read a book.
A book? Well, you didn't do too well on your first draw from the computer,
and you've obviously had a bit of a nasty shock today, what will you do in future?
Oh, well, I would never consider, um...
-being involved again.
'I decided that, on balance, I might do better on my own.
'On the same tour, having dealt with love, I looked at death,
'with a discovery of a phenomenon which seemed truly out of this world.'
We're all going this way one day.
For 6,000 years, man has accepted the finality of physical death
and, when it comes, he goes to a familiar grave.
But today, for those who see the prospect of immortality,
there's a new and less permanent resting place.
Here in California's San Fernando Valley,
the start of a silent revolution which could affect the future of the world -
the first of the die-now, live-later group,
men and women frozen solid in their cylinders, waiting for the future...
..and, they believe, cheating death.
In cryonic suspension, the body is preserved against natural decay.
Every cell, every bacterium is frozen.
You won't get better, but you won't get any worse.
Then, at some future date, when science has learned how, you can be thawed out,
diseased organs replaced, and rejuvenated for your second life.
Do you regard this lady as dead?
Well, she's certainly dead.
There's no question about that.
She's dead in any legal or medical sense that we have.
She is clinically dead. Now, you could say she isn't biologically dead because the cells haven't continued
to deteriorate past the point of clinical death. In other words,
she hasn't started to rot or decay in any way.
I've heard talk of freezatoriums for 200 patients.
Yes, mm-hmm. That's, um...I'd say a conservative figure.
I would say it'd be more realistic to think in terms of 500 or more.
Now you're bringing a capsule down here?
A multiple storage vessel will be placed in this facility right here.
The worry is that you're going to be reanimated as a zombie, isn't it?
Well, people's minds can imagine a lot of different possible problems.
I'm also hearing stories that Walt Disney has been frozen.
There were persistent rumours and his studio had contacted the society at one time for information,
and there was no question about the fact that he did want to be frozen.
Apart from Mr Disney, are you awaiting any other famous freezees?
Peter Sellers has had extensive communication with the Cryonic Society and indicated his interest.
'The cost of preserving frozen corpses in the now prime real estate
'of the San Fernando Valley became too expensive.
'The Cryonic Society closed down in the early '70s, when plugs were pulled, bodies defrosted
'and returned to relatives for conventional burial.'
'The west coast of America has always been the birth-place of new movements.
'For decades, California has been home to openly gay America,
'with San Francisco's Castro district its throbbing heart.'
# Street life It's the only life I know
# You let the people see just who you wanna be... #
'Back in '73, Whicker's World featured a gay religious group, the Metropolitan Community Church,
'who were the first to conduct homosexual marriages.'
A serving chief petty officer of the San Diego United States naval air station, Edward S Brendon,
is about to marry a hotel receptionist, Joseph L Brown.
'We watched a gay wedding at the Chollas View Community Church in San Diego.'
Dearly beloved, we have come together in this house of the Lord to bear witness to the blessing of the union
of Ed and Joe who present themselves before God and this company.
'Though the ceremony wasn't recognised by law,
'it did offer the first gay kiss to be seen on British television, which seemed ardent enough.
'We then moved on to Malibu...
'to join a vocal MCC meeting.'
'We now forget the intense feeling that was aroused by Gay Power which came close to home
'when one member of the Whicker's World team was so alarmed by my decision to film gay action
'that he retreated to bed with a diplomatic cold
'and only emerged with relief a while later when the filming was over.
'Some people showed their feelings in more violent ways.'
Arsonists set fire to this first MCC church in Los Angeles and to another gay church at San Francisco.
This church was founded five years ago by a young minister from Florida
who'd been expelled from his Pentecostal church
for leaving his wife and children and admitting he was gay. The Reverend Troy Perry.
We'd had some experiences this last year with people becoming more militant
in their actions against the homosexual community in this country.
'A few weeks before our filming, 32 men had been burned to death in a gay-church fire in New Orleans.'
The police are saying they don't find any evidence that it was arson, but I've heard that story before.
I know good and well that, if it'd been 50 or even 30 individuals who were prominent
in the community in New Orleans, outside of our community, they would be turning that town upside down
trying to find out what happened, but I heard the comments that were made -
faggot, queer, pervert, child molesters!
And you know something - I've learned to hate those kind of labels.
But praise God, with God's help, we won't be afraid any more!
Homosexuals are black, they're brown, they're white, they're millionaires, they're paupers,
they're ditch-diggers, they're presidents, they're whatever, and as a result of that, you don't have...
It's easier for a gay person to cross over and be a heterosexual for the day, if he has to be.
'I called on Troy Perry again after some 30 years.
'He now lives with his partner in Silver Lake, a suburb of Los Angeles,
'where I went to hear about the impact of our original programme.'
I had friends from Great Britain that I called who were involved
with a church there that was thinking about coming into our denomination.
When I called them, they said, "Well, be very careful."
They said, "He's a great interviewer but sometimes his questions can be tough."
Once the programme was shown, I called my friends in Great Britain.
They broke down crying and said, "You don't know how encouraging...
"This is the first time in Great Britain that there has ever been
"a positive TV show that showed gay people just as they are."
Because there are so many of you, you're beginning to feel your political muscle.
Yes, that's correct.
As a minority group, I think you should become more organised.
Once you wake up and you realise the system is the system because you permit it to be that way.
Yet, of course, no oppressed minority is ever content until it converts the majority!
No, that's true. And yet we...though you CAN convert the majority.
I think the blacks in this country have converted the majority, and I think that's true, yes.
There's no way as a minority group that we'll ever stop
until we at least have people looking at us and saying, "OK, what makes you different from anyone else?"
And saying to them. "Well, not really anything, other than what we pick for a love object."
Notice I didn't say sex object but love object.
And in my case, in my bedroom, I happen to like vanilla ice cream and you like chocolate.
What are your ultimate goals?
Oh, we want to see the laws changed.
We want to educate the public.
Politically, we want to certainly see qualified homosexuals run for office and win.
I think the time's coming. There was a time in this country when they said blacks could never win but they did,
and it'll happen in this country too, and it'll happen first in California.
'In 2008, California became the first state where any gay American can legally get married,
'a significant step in Troy Perry's campaign.'
It's very important to me because I come from a very moral family who taught me to go to church,
to go to Sunday school, and they said, "Get married,"
and for me it was one of the most important things in my life.
When I asked Philip to marry me, though we'd been together for 18 years,
you don't know how emotional that was for me.
-I've been living with my partner for more than 30 years and we're not married...
..and I feel no sense of loss in that.
Right. I say to gay folks and to heterosexuals, "I know there are folks who are not going to marry,
"and that's perfectly all right to me. But for God's sake, don't stop me from marrying because I want to."
It means we're being treated like everybody else.
That's all I've ever asked for in my fight.
I don't ask for any more but I refuse to settle for anything less
than what every other citizen in this country and our constitution says you can have.
# And if our backs should ever be against the wall
# We'll be together...#
It'll be there.
The Lord is my shepherd and he knows I'm gay. Amen!
# We'll be together... #
'Sadly for Troy Perry, that legislation on gay marriage was subsequently overturned.
'In '79, I returned to San Francisco to film two programmes around its new police force.
'These showed how the city's diverse population was now reflected by its guardians.
'Almost 30 years ago, the SFPD, protecting the most liberal of cities in the most liberal of states
'had just begun to recruit women and gays.'
Though, as often happens, the minority trail's been blazed by women.
The first police women sworn in five years ago were given the same duties and pay, same status and training,
even, unfortunately, the same uniforms as men.
'I spent a couple of weeks with the police, chasing villains up and down those famous hillsides,
'dodging hoodlums and trams.'
-Any description of a suspect?
There's no description.
'If I hadn't been on the scene and running with the cops, viewers would doubtless have believed
'our nightly dramas were really Starsky and Hutch, or even Kojak!'
You are five foot nothing.
Do you strike fear into a wrong-doer when you appear or do they laugh at you or...?
I have never had anyone laugh at me.
A lot of people, just from the mere fact that you are a police officer
will either respect you or disrespect you, regardless if you're a man or a woman.
Oh, come here. Oh...
What happened to you, huh?
-Oh, I'm so scared.
-Sit down, sit down.
Here. Sit down. Sit down over here.
Just sit right there.
Get us a code 3408...
Who did that to you?
-Did somebody rip off your dope and beat you up?
-They had dope but they...
Just hang in there, partner, it's all right.
I've known that guy for a long time.
He's an old dope dealer but he's a really nice old guy.
He's bleeding, in shock, he was totally...
His name is Pop Davies. I asked him that and, you know, maybe he got burned or who knows why?
You just never know.
The victims are...
Half the time, they're the suspects, you know.
Next day they're the victim.
Less dangerous but perhaps equally distasteful, Patrol Officer Mary-Ann on duty.
She's on the prostitution detail, guarded by two back-up men.
Right, you want a date?
What do you want to do on the date?
The police here arrest whores and their clients, the johns, the tricks.
Once he's offered money and solicited prostitution, the arm of the law reaches out.
Her back-ups are a real-life Starsky and Hutch.
Now, with the best will in the world, I find myself rather sorry for these johns.
It's just a couple of guys on their way home and they want to go to bed
with a girl, and the next minute, they find themselves handcuffed.
Yeah, well, a lot of times the girls out here will take them up into the hotel rooms and they'll rip them off
and beat them up or their pimps will jump out of the closet and beat them up or something.
Really, some of them we've probably saved from losing a lot more money and everything else, you know,
that they might have if they go into these places.
And then again, some of these guys turn around and get the whores up to the rooms
and beat them up and take what little they've got too. It's not just a victimless crime.
Even in San Francisco's enlightened police department, no woman has yet risen to the rank of sergeant.
Officer Maureen, now under cover, understands why.
We were forced to have to prove ourselves.
From the first day we were sworn in, we were told, "You're not gonna make it."
I have mixed emotions whether we can do it or not.
I can do 99% of the job on the street,
but when that 1% comes up, somebody is going to get hurt, whether it be the woman or the woman's partner.
-You're just a weak and feeble woman. Is that what you're saying?
I can't walk to my car at night because I'm just a little, feeble lady! Someone might mug me.
I wear a uniform and pack a gun, but I'm still a woman.
'That "feeble woman" is now a homicide inspector
'and, since 2004, the SFPD has had its first woman police chief.'
Now you're in homicide.
-And that's the toughest and the bloodiest of all.
It's certainly the bloodiest and they say it is the toughest, but it was my dream.
When I came into the police academy back in 1975 and we were being trained,
and those homicide inspectors that came in to train us,
they probably had 25 years in the business, so they were ancient.
And when they came in in their three-piece suits with their watch chains across their vests
and they were telling their war stories, I just sat there with eyes wide open
and said that's what I wanted to do some day.
Would you have believed back in '79 at our first interview
that there was going to be a woman police chief?
Yes, because it was just... something that was going to have to happen sooner or later,
in very much the same way we almost had a woman
running for President in the United States this election period.
So it was just a matter of time.
They could beat us down in the beginning a little bit,
but if we were strong enough, which I believed, and nasty enough to hang in there, out of sheer spite,
and our character... I never thought I would be a strong woman, you know,
somebody that would fight for my rights, but you just had to hang in there and have the guts
and the determination to ride the wave and it would eventually be your turn. And it came to be true.
Let's take a hike. Let's go.
'The two Whicker's Worlds which followed our weeks with the San Francisco Police
'were afterwards used as instructional films by police academies across America.'
Be cool or you'll end up on your fuckin' ass.
-..You wanna check me, I've got nothing on me.
-You have no ID?
If you have ID, we can cite you. If you don't, you're going to have to go to jail.
'On this visit, I was honoured by a massed parade of recruits in training at the police academy.'
Recruits, I want to introduce to you Mr Alan Whicker who's come from the United Kingdom
to take a look at something he looked at 30 years ago, and I wanted to take the opportunity today
to tell him how great we are, because every community is represented in this department.
The recruits nowadays go through nearly a year's worth of training.
And what age? From what to what?
Well, their ages run - you'd be interested in this -
they start as young as 21 and the oldest I can think of was 54 when he graduated from police academy.
Then I was reunited with my class of '79.
CHEERING Welcome back!
I got the pretty ones, you see?
Oh, that's very kind.
Do you remember us?
I remember you, of course, so well.
I wonder how that happened?!
Yes, hello, sir. Mindy Pringle.
-Nice to meet you again.
-Hello, Judy. Of course, I've got loads of cuttings about you and your performance.
-It's good to see you.
Mary-Ann, the prostitute.
Yes, nice to see you again.
'Some had changed more than others.
'When we first met, Stefan was Stephanie.'
I can remember you seven months ago, when you were trying to get in, you were a very aggressive lesbian,
you were wearing a "super dyke" T-shirt. You've got much more gentle now you're a cop.
that depends. Uh...
-I mean, you're not joining us, are you?
I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and that identity...I will never let go of my identity and my ideals.
'Since I last saw them, many of my recruits have become senior officers.'
You have to be a little bit of an adrenalin junkie to have done this job, in particular for all of us,
um...as women and Stefan as our first transgender, I mean, you...
It's something that, in our normal lives prior to coming in, we weren't used to, and, um...
But I think we all got bit.
I think, once you got that in your blood and that adrenalin was going, it was really quite thrilling.
The most significant change to law enforcement was integration -
integration bringing women, sexual minorities, racial minorities...
bringing everyone in to the ranks of law enforcement had the most profound impact.
It has radically, I think, changed the culture, the police culture.
'We moved on from San Francisco to look at the dominant role of guns in American life.
'The right to bear arms is enshrined in the American constitution,
'but that proliferation brings with it the growing threat of violence and death.'
Today, the threatening shadow cast across the world's most ridiculed, most envied outpost
is the everyday dread of casual violence.
Los Angeles lost its innocence ten years ago after the mass killings by the Charles Manson Family.
You have a problem. This man only needs that much time to kill you
so you only have that much time to respond.
Point, fire! Point, fire!
Point, fire! Point, fire!
'We spent a week in a basement in Glendale watching frightened people learn how to kill.'
All you've got to do get a bullet in the man's chest.
You've got to kill him. Ready?
Take your time.
Each one of them had survived some challenge by an armed thug intent upon wounding or killing,
and these people were determined they would never be victims again.
If it's necessary, you've got to blow some sucker's chest out.
One would expect that a doctor would be concerned with saving life, not learning how to kill.
-What brought you here?
-We had a very, very serious accident a little over a year ago
when I was putting some things in the trunk of my car after making rounds at the hospital which I attend.
A fellow came up to me and, as I slowly turned around and asked him, "What the hell do you want?"
he shot me. Shot me in the chest.
The bullet went in a downward position where it went through my liver and renal artery and kidney.
Right now you look in fairly good shape.
Well, it took months of recovery.
So now you've come here to learn to shoot first?
So it never happens again.
I was very avidly against guns
and I've never allowed a gun or anything in the house, but I feel differently now.
I don't ever wish to be in that position, and it's taken me a lot of guts to come here!
'I joined a Wild West training session and got closer to the action than I intended.'
Go! Move! Go into the water.
-What's the matter with you? Go!
-Was that a duck?
-No, it was me.
I didn't mean that at you.
That was me who'd to duck. Well done.
This is the judge, checking up on your...
-How's she doing?
-She scored a nine and a zero.
A nine and a miss.
That means you're dead again. When you get psyched up like this, you're quite excited, really.
Isn't this the kind of thing...?
-Aren't you going to go out on the streets looking for a target?
I'll be more aware, you know. You never know who's going to crawl up and grab you or something.
It's constant fear but that's what today is nowadays - fear. You don't know who's going to do what.
Carol and Russell O'Rear know all about self-defence for they run
that most popular target for stick-up men looking for ready cash at night - a liquor store.
However, it seems some little old ladies can look after themselves.
This fellow, a white fellow, came in,
Just me and him. He came in the store and I was kind of jittery.
It seems like your heart beats when you see something like that.
He came in the store and I said, "Can I help you?"
And he says, "I want a pack of cigarettes, a pack of Camel."
When I went to pick up the Camels, here he had a 9mm German Luger automatic.
I tell you, I just froze when I saw that.
I thought, "He's gonna shoot me in the back of the head."
So, er...so then finally... He said, "Get down on the floor."
The floor was so darn dirty, I wasn't going to get down on the floor for him. Anyway, I said, "Oh, all right."
So there's still that gun on me and I thought, "Oh, boy," and he was such a mean-looking thing.
So I put my finger in the trigger...
Under the counter, we had a 3840, you know, one of those large old-fashioned guns?
So I put my finger in the trigger and I said, "Gee... I got to do something. Either him or me."
So I put my finger in and I went bang and I shot him right between the eyes.
Still there's nobody around. Nobody heard me.
So I thought, "Oh, heck, I'll take another chance and shoot him,"
so I shot him in the neck.
And down he went.
So I went around to see what...
I wanted to get a towel to wipe his face because, you know,
he was bleeding so bad, and he only took 39.
So I went to search his pocket, you know, to get the 39 back.
Before you knew it, I had seven cop cars and the television
and everything there and he was on the floor, but he was already dead.
So I said, "Say, listen, take that money out of his pocket. He's got my 39."
And it was bloody, so I took it and put it in the cash register, and they took him, and that was that.
When the bullet enters the skull, those dum-dums,
it flies to pieces, it flies into hundreds of pieces and just pulverises the brain.
-So you didn't really need the second shot in the throat?
No, I did not. I just wanted to see how it feels!
-Was that the first time you'd killed anybody?
There was a few more.
A few more after that. But I shot two shots.
That's all I shoot. The third time I don't shoot.
And if I can't get 'em in those two, then I quit.
-You give up?
-I give up. Yeah.
Remember, California's said to be just a few years ahead of the world outside so, for the rest of us,
is this the way it's going to be?
'Los Angeles is a nowhere city.
'It's like living in a vast motel where everybody's about to leave.'
No-one has a past or a present or cares what you do.
There's no chance of establishing a relationship with the other guests
for they're all due to check out in a day or two.
Despite such restlessness, such indifference,
its residents talk more than any other people in the world about "meaningful relationships",
yet I suspect would not know how to handle one if it took them by the throat.
# Well, I'm standing on the corner watching every kind of car
# Friendly people come and say they want to know... #
'In my 1979 California series, we filmed an entire show on Sunset Boulevard,
'covering its extremes from the mountains to the shining sea.
'That single street said everything there was to say about the city and its way of life.
'We took a look at Plato's Retreat West, a private club for swingers in Hollywood.'
Everything in that club was then allowed, except alcohol and unescorted males.
The police had just raided the club and, after some puzzled hesitation,
cited management for operating pinball machines without a permit.
In this drab side street, the club was active until dawn.
Many of its 5,000 members kept busy having sex with strangers.
# Night fever, night fever
# We know how to show it... #
The orgy centre was called the mat room
as though part of some gymnasium which in a way I suppose it was.
After crossing its mattresses, I decided to burn my socks.
I talked to a couple who'd been married for three years.
Michael, an electrician, aged 27, and Susie, a nurse of 23, were regulars.
I would think bringing a woman in here would be paying her something of an insult, really.
Sex exhilarates me.
I feel good afterwards.
But what about the other women in a place like this? Are they as young as you or are they not older?
I saw some much older women outside.
There's... I once met a lady and...
I made her show me her driver's licence just to prove the age she was, but she was 82,
-In a swingers' club?
-Yeah, but she...
-How was she doing?
She acted like about a 37-year-old lady. Her mind was as sharp as a razor.
A man who sleeps with a lot of women is supposed to be a gay dog,
-but a woman who sleeps with a lot of men is supposed to be a tramp.
Would you sometimes go with more than one man in an evening?
I think my maximum is...three? Three.
Three in one evening.
I mean, men, perhaps it's another thing, but doesn't it devalue women totally?
I don't see why.
Women complain about being sex objects.
Well, I'm not a sex object. I'm an individual.
I wondered why the founder Larry had chosen to call his swappers' club Plato's.
It was just that we wanted to use a name that was either Greek or Roman
because it's very erotic, so I just decided, Plato's was a simple name. It was the only one I could spell!
After that, I found out that Plato was gay but it was too late.
All over the world, there's wars and everything else.
That doesn't bother anybody, but Plato's Retreat people get furious about. For what reason?
We're here happy, having a good time.
When we leave here, we go back to society,
'Plato's Retreat closed down within a year of my visit.
'Today, it's a less controversial club though I suspect its past is more interesting than its present.
'In Hollywood, women have always had a powerful presence on-screen,
'yet it was not until 1980 that there was a female studio head,
'when I shared breakfast with Sherry Lansing, then the most powerful woman in the film industry.'
How does a little school teacher get to be a big shot so quickly?
Because you've done it very rapidly,
-and you haven't done it by the casting-couch route.
I also don't think that exists any more, the casting-couch route. Um...
All my ideals are going.
All the reasons why you're here have just disappeared.
-What can you believe in any more?
-I don't think the casting-couch route exists at all any more.
There's too much money being spent on movies, too few movies being made, to take a risk on something like that.
'Sherry had a clear philosophy about life in Hollywood's fastest lane.'
The woman who is a housewife - I feel so strongly about this - who has no working life,
but who has a husband and two children, which I don't have, has certain things that I don't have.
I have certain things that she doesn't have.
You give up certain things to get what you want, but you don't get it all.
I mean, I work very hard and I like it, but I do go home alone
and I don't have children, so I don't have everything.
And if she's envious of me, then I'm envious of her because she has things that I don't have.
The mistake that everybody makes is that they want everything.
I learned you can't have it all.
'Sherry ran Paramount for 12 years and in that time also got married, so maybe she DID have it all.
'My old friend Joan Collins created a powerful television monster and became world-famous.'
Her role in Dynasty made Joan Collins a sort of template for the '80s.
With its kitsch story lines and impossibly handsome cast, the series attracted huge audiences.
Professional and brilliant at playing Joan,
she achieved through television the international super-stardom that had eluded her on film.
Always perfectly turned out, she played the part of Alexis Carrington to the hilt
and that character was to follow her forever.
It seems to me that there are only two kinds of people on television
in terms of women, and that's the bitch or the wimp.
There's nothing in-between. It's rather pathetic. Women are so categorised.
They should be able to cross over.
They should be able to be both because nobody is just one thing.
And if Alexis was a man, they would not call him a bitch.
They couldn't dare call him a bastard cos you can't say that word on TV.
Um, I don't know. They'd probably say, "A strong, tough, aggressive man, isn't that wonderful?"
But because I'm a woman, "She's a bitch," and it's just...that.
MUSIC: Theme from Dynasty
When we talked on the Dynasty set all those years ago, you said that,
in real life, you believed a strong, assertive woman got a bad deal.
It's true, but, um...I mean, look at Maggie Thatcher.
I thought that she was absolutely wonderful, that she was strong and assertive. She was loathed.
Look at Hillary Clinton.
And, um, people do not like very assertive women that know their mind
and that, you know, have a tendency to tell you off.
Now, Hollywood is a notoriously cruel place.
How did you survive?
Cos I'm tough.
No, I survived because I don't take any of it too seriously.
I suspect that it was easier being a star in the old days when the stars were all protected by the studios.
I think it's really true. I don't know how those people
who are really on the cover of all the magazines and just so famous, I don't know how they cope.
Like Angelina Jolie. She's pregnant, she's carrying one child,
there's another one in her hand, she goes out, she gets flash, flash.
She never complains. I have great admiration for that cos I think it must be really tough.
-Being famous for being stunning
must be a considerable burden to you.
You can't slip out to the newsagent's to buy a paper unless you're looking your absolute best.
I think that people today want to see their stars looking, you know, worse than them.
I went out with my daughter once, Tara, in disguise to Bermondsey antique market, five in the morning,
and I had no make-up, I was very dressed down, I had an old headscarf on,
an old mac, and I'm going along and looking at the stalls.
Tara's following after me and she comes up and says, "Mummy, do you know what that man just said?"
I said, "No, what?" He said, "Here, Ida, that was Joan Collins. You look better than she does!"
So I can look really horrible if I want to.
Looking back then, is there anything in real life that you wish you had done differently?
Life is a series of lessons and, um...you know, everybody makes mistakes.
Show me a person who hasn't made a mistake and I'll show you somebody who hasn't lived properly.
Beverly Hills houses today's over-achievers,
though, once you stop achieving, nobody talks to you.
California is so familiar from films and television that we know it well, even if we've never been here.
Palm trees and beautiful people, endless sunshine,
the good, the bad and the totally nutty, where everything is "now".
MUSIC: Theme from The Pink Panther
Piccadilly Thircuth, there you are, there's Eroth.
Now, just by shaking it, we can see it in the storm.
There you are, do you see the snow?
It's lovely to have. You see, when you get all this sun out here,
it's lovely to see a bit of snow cos we never see snow in Los Angeles.
And I have Buckingham Palace also in the same situation.
I first met Peter Sellers in the old Tonight days
when, one evening at Lime Grove, I interviewed his mother, a forceful lady to whom he was devoted.
That stood in my credit.
Years later, I spent a day with him in Beverly Hills, in a splendid rented house on Summit Ridge
where he was living with his latest wife, the beautiful Lynne Frederick.
He was then at the peak of his film career and had a reputation for being difficult
but, that day, he was a delight - funny, perceptive and engaging.
He was happy, though in the harsh California sunlight, his skin looked a little grey.
He'd stumble as he walked down a flight of steps and my director said, "This may be his obituary."
So it proved.
A few weeks later, Peter flew to London and suffered a fatal heart attack.
Ours was probably the last interview he gave.
I happen to be one of those sort of people that...
was born and will die in England because I've got sort of London in me.
I was born in Yorkshire, but I've been living in London all my life, and there's something...
Although I can't stay there all the time, there's something about the place that, er,
I can't get away from and, you know, I don't want to get away from.
So I could never actually live here.
So what is it then that gets up your nose about working here?
It's difficult to answer that now.
I don't know.
I don't know. They say the British are rude, I suppose.
I've heard that said many times.
for example...be at home and have somebody say to me,
"I saw your last film, mate. It was a load of shit,"
which I've had on several occasions, so excuse me!
Or... I mean, I'd sooner put up with that than I would the sort of thing that happens here.
I remember very well going through a very bad patch at one time in my life, living in this town for a bit,
and several well-known people were crossing the road in order not to bump into me.
So you really know when the skids are under you, you know.
I know one thing, that...it's fine to work here.
Spike and I, when we were doing the Goon Show, we used to call them "herns".
If you can't hear what they're saying,
it's like a rhubarb sound, they're saying, "Hern, hern, hern.
"What do you think, hern, hern, hern?"
A lot of the Goon Shows had the herns in them. Hern, sir, hern.
Hern, Lieutenant, hern.
-The goonery is a joy of lost youth for you, isn't it?
-Oh, yes, the best, happiest days of my life.
You can live wherever you want to in the world. The fact that you're here for what, a year, two years...?
Er, no, I'm going back to Europe.
I'm going to have a holiday next, a much-needed holiday.
I'm going back to Europe and I'll probably stay in Europe
till I do another movie, which will be in Paris.
-Nobody seems to have any friends here.
-No. You see, the British tend to keep together
because they have these parties down the road and all of that,
and they all sort of get together and talk about Harrods and all that.
And that's about it, really, unless you want to get caught up with the Hollywood set
and get mixed up with those parties, but forget it, you know. Not for me.
Very private person. Very private.
A lot of people think I'm a right twit because I'm very quiet, but I can't take it, you know.
I work so hard when I work that I like to be very quiet
and just think and meditate and...
wander round taking photographs.
There is an argument that, wherever you live in the world - in Gstaad or in Port Grimaud or London or here -
that you only have about five or ten friends anyway,
and you'll surround yourself with five or ten chosen people wherever you are.
So you've got your five or ten friends here.
You've also got the best that the world can provide in everything -
in food and cars and wine and...
But I don't have any friends here.
Real friends. I don't have any people I'd really call...
I've only got...two really good friends - no, three at the most - in my life.
..and they're all in London.
May I show you, just before we leave, a little twick I learnt from an American.
I'll do it with the Union Jack
because it's better to start with it than end with it, if you know what I mean.
As they said when they left India!
So here we go. Um, now...
My head is in the tea cloth.
My head has gone. Brilliant.
Thank you so much.
'Some months after Peter's final happy interview, ITV asked me to present his obituary.'
So we've lost Peter Sellers.
We've lost the clown who made the world happier than he made himself.
Peter Sellers, who spent his life imitating others,
was an accumulation of all the roles he'd ever played, all the people he'd ever met.
So, to every one of you, Peter, goodbye and thanks.
'Next time, the journey continues as we cross America
'and I can finally catch up with one of my favourite couples.'
My dear chap.
You haven't changed a bit, except you're a bit younger.
And Kathy! Excuse me.
You look fucking great!
Don't let that be on!
Celebrating a remarkable fifty years on television, TV legend and undisputed travel king Alan Whicker sets off round the world on a journey reflecting his varied life and career.
Whicker looks back at his most famous programmes, including the 1967 film that introduced hippies to a bemused Britain and featured controversial sequences of drug-taking for the first time on British TV.
He also revisits the openly gay church who invited him to one of their same-sex marriages thirty-five years before they were recognised legally, as well as the San Francisco cops who invited him to join them on patrol back in 1979. Also featured is the last-ever interview with the late Peter Sellers.