California Dreaming Alan Whicker's Journey of a Lifetime


California Dreaming

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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Transcript


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This programme contains some strong language.

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'This week, on my journey of a lifetime, we're heading west

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'for all that's shiny and new, a California state of mind.'

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More than anywhere else in the world, California attracts odd, offbeat religions.

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Relax... Big breaths.

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'My 50 years, and counting, of travel around Whicker's world

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'has taught me that, if anything's going to happen, chances are it'll happen here first.'

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Gay power!

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-Would you go with more than one man in an evening?

-Sometimes.

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Kill him!

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Duck!

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Bang, and I shot him right between the eyes.

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'Remember, California's said to be just a few years ahead of the world outside so, for the rest of us,

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'is this the way it's gonna be?'

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Mr Whicker, there you go. Thank you very much. And you'll see that it is gate 46B, 1.45 they start boarding.

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The last time I flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco,

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I experienced a very unhappy event in a traveller's life, and that is my luggage was stolen.

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To be fair to airlines, it's the only time in 50 years of travel that that has happened to me,

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and it happened because I had my attache case, as I normally do, on the top of our luggage.

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We'd arrived in San Francisco and we were waiting for the car to come round to pick us up.

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We were chatting normally and a bunch of Ecuadorians,

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who were then working the airport, came by very cleverly,

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saw we were talking there,

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covered this for themselves, two of them.

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The other one just picked up the case and went.

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Now...that meant that I had

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no passport, no papers, no tickets, no money, no nothing,

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and you're very isolated, and you feel very lonely at a time like that

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because the first thing any American says to you about anything is, "Show me your identity,"

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and you say, "Well, I haven't got identity because those fellas have just taken it away."

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Today, I'm sure we're going to be luckier, and I'm going to keep an eye on that case.

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MUSIC: "I Left My Heart In San Francisco"

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California, that monstrous stretch of the American imagination,

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is a vigorous and blatant land of achievers and escapists,

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where all America's promises and problems are exposed and exaggerated.

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New York may be the melting pot of Europe, but Los Angeles and

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San Francisco, these upstart meccas on the Pacific, deal with America.

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The state looks back upon the rest of the world with cool indifference.

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Since the early '60s, I've regularly flown out to the coast to film,

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always with delight and apprehension,

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for this is where the New World really begins,

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where they spawn every fad and fancy the rest of us adopt within five or ten years.

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When last I brought Whicker's World here, I feared that, after the endless exposure on television,

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viewers might finally have had California,

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yet our series reached number one in ratings

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which suggests an insatiable appetite for the goings-on

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in this lavish, loony place on America's far-out fringe.

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MUSIC: San Francisco by Scott MacKenzie

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In 1967, we heard of an explosion of multi-coloured psychedelic exuberance in San Francisco.

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Flower power was born in a spirit of gentle innocence, lightly touched by drugs.

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Our film was greeted with surprise and incomprehension.

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BBC executives, unfamiliar with love-ins, would stop me in the corridors and ask, "What's a hippy?"

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The Haight-Ashbury community has created the council for a summer of love in San Francisco.

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Within the Haight-Ashbury population, there are many strata of imaginative and creative energies

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whose spirit extends throughout San Francisco and the world.

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We call upon the world to help us celebrate the infinite holiness of life.

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We ask all who come here to come here in love,

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and we ask all who live here to greet all men with love.

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'Despite the BBC's horror of drugs, hippy drug-taking was so widespread it could not be ignored.'

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Among the giant redwoods, Chet Helm sets off on an acid trip.

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The tablets will hit within 45 minutes.

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Their effects last eight hours.

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Though illegal, anyone bent on a trip can still take one if he has the fare, today about 30 shillings.

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LSD, an acid derived from a fungus, is colourless, odourless, tasteless and undetectable.

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Once swallowed, it's all in the mind.

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LSD is not a means of instant wisdom or universal bliss, nor an indication of national decadence.

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We've got some more acid over here if you want to go ahead and drop it.

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Dropping acid can bring utter peace or utter panic.

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Nobody knows how LSD changes the programming of the brain,

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but it releases a flood of sensory signals and overloads the mind with sensation.

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We're in the depths of something here.

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Who knows what they see now, on their kaleidoscopic trip to the unknown dangers of inner space?

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Now we'll do it with a little jump, so it's like this. And...

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'But of course, not all hippies were into drugs.

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'Vito's young wife Sue seemed satisfied with some deep breathing.'

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Relaxation. Relaxation. Relaxation.

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For immediate energy from our muscles, and relaxation, relaxation, relaxation,

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to get the carbon dioxide out for more relaxation, relaxation, big breaths.

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You don't take LSD, do you?

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Oh, no, we never have tried it.

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We don't want to fool around too much with chemicals, and eliminate all the wrongs from our life, like sugar.

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But don't you find that most of the hippies are on LSD?

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Oh, so many of my friends have just ruined themselves.

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I tell them it's a military plot!

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Don't the hippies who take LSD and pot, don't they think you're pretty square?

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No, indeed.

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Because the minute they look at me, I convince them

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that I'm for real and I'm happy and they would love to be this way.

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'Smoking a joint on-camera was something unheard of.'

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Spin the joint.

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There is dope in the community house

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of one of San Francisco's psychedelic pop groups, the Grateful Dead,

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tonight getting high without losing cool, smoking marijuana, the mild stimulant known as pot or grass.

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In this new hang-loose world, hippy philosophy and drugs swing together,

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lightly connected by a lover's knot say those who turn on, by obscene manacles say the rest of the world.

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In the States, pot is going middle-class and spreading like prohibition liquor.

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As more and more citizens get zonked out of their minds,

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the drug cult enters the bloodstream of American life.

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Like it or not, we're living in the stoned age.

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'The BBC was acutely fearful of the impact of LSD.

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'Mick Jagger had just been busted by the Kent police so, for the first and last time, transmission

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'of Whicker's World was delayed until the story cooled, when they slipped it out very late at night.

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'Hard to believe now there was ever a time when drugs and drug problems were not commonplace.'

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That was the summer of love, a short outburst of happiness that lasted only a few months.

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When I returned here a year later, the flowers and innocence had died.

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'On my 1968 tour, we studied the new American lifestyle.

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'In Los Angeles, they boasted about the first computer dating agency,

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'promising unlimited partners to satisfy your precise measurements and interests.'

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Hello, my name is Alan Whicker...

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RECORDED MESSAGE: Thank you for calling Human Inventory.

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Maybe you've had a divorce or maybe you have not yet married.

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In any case, if you're like most unattached people, you'd like to meet

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members of the opposite sex who are attractive to you.

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They must satisfy your level of expectation, share your interests

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and have personality traits that are agreeable with yours.

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What do you truly enjoy...?

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If you can match men to jobs, they say, why not men to women?

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Certainly, the old-fashioned way of meeting and mating is not proving too successful.

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One in every four American marriages ends in divorce.

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In California, there are more divorces than marriages.

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We select friends for you who are worthy of your background and accomplishment.

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They are chosen in accordance with your needs, then we keep on doing this for you month after month...

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This is the part of the process, Alan, where we make selections for you from our inventory of women.

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-Good, good.

-And we shall be doing a better job of selecting women for you in just a few minutes

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than you could do if you lived two or three lifetimes.

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So we put that on top there.

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All those are the proper height.

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All women under 5'6" are in this card, so we put that on top there.

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People with low outdoor interests - you have low outdoor interests, correct?

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We want that to be alike and so therefore we put that low outdoor interests card on there.

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That cuts down quite a number of people.

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We have here high aesthetic interest. Let's put that on.

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Now, as we put that on, that's going to cut down people to quite an extent

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because I'd say there's a minority of people who have as high an aesthetic interest as you have.

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So therefore, let's see what we have in the way of selections for you.

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The first one we would select for you here is number 7670.

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The next one is 5014.

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The next one is 3414.

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There can be a difference of course between specification and the actual model. It was an anxious time.

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My first date could be anyone for those tests concerned obscure facets

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like nurture and support, and social extroversion.

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The computer produces the phone numbers but you have to generate your own sparks.

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I was introduced to a man... who,

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in the course of our conversation, told me that he had read a book.

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A book? Well, you didn't do too well on your first draw from the computer,

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and you've obviously had a bit of a nasty shock today, what will you do in future?

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Oh, well, I would never consider, um...

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-being involved again.

-You wouldn't?

-No.

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'I decided that, on balance, I might do better on my own.

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'On the same tour, having dealt with love, I looked at death,

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'with a discovery of a phenomenon which seemed truly out of this world.'

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We're all going this way one day.

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For 6,000 years, man has accepted the finality of physical death

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and, when it comes, he goes to a familiar grave.

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But today, for those who see the prospect of immortality,

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there's a new and less permanent resting place.

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Here in California's San Fernando Valley,

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the start of a silent revolution which could affect the future of the world -

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the first of the die-now, live-later group,

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men and women frozen solid in their cylinders, waiting for the future...

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..and, they believe, cheating death.

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In cryonic suspension, the body is preserved against natural decay.

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Every cell, every bacterium is frozen.

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You won't get better, but you won't get any worse.

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Then, at some future date, when science has learned how, you can be thawed out,

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diseased organs replaced, and rejuvenated for your second life.

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Do you regard this lady as dead?

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Well, she's certainly dead.

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There's no question about that.

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She's dead in any legal or medical sense that we have.

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She is clinically dead. Now, you could say she isn't biologically dead because the cells haven't continued

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to deteriorate past the point of clinical death. In other words,

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she hasn't started to rot or decay in any way.

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I've heard talk of freezatoriums for 200 patients.

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Yes, mm-hmm. That's, um...I'd say a conservative figure.

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I would say it'd be more realistic to think in terms of 500 or more.

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Now you're bringing a capsule down here?

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A multiple storage vessel will be placed in this facility right here.

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The worry is that you're going to be reanimated as a zombie, isn't it?

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Well, people's minds can imagine a lot of different possible problems.

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I'm also hearing stories that Walt Disney has been frozen.

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There were persistent rumours and his studio had contacted the society at one time for information,

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and there was no question about the fact that he did want to be frozen.

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Apart from Mr Disney, are you awaiting any other famous freezees?

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Peter Sellers has had extensive communication with the Cryonic Society and indicated his interest.

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'The cost of preserving frozen corpses in the now prime real estate

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'of the San Fernando Valley became too expensive.

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'The Cryonic Society closed down in the early '70s, when plugs were pulled, bodies defrosted

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'and returned to relatives for conventional burial.'

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'The west coast of America has always been the birth-place of new movements.

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'For decades, California has been home to openly gay America,

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'with San Francisco's Castro district its throbbing heart.'

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# Street life It's the only life I know

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# You let the people see just who you wanna be... #

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'Back in '73, Whicker's World featured a gay religious group, the Metropolitan Community Church,

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'who were the first to conduct homosexual marriages.'

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ORGAN PLAYS

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A serving chief petty officer of the San Diego United States naval air station, Edward S Brendon,

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is about to marry a hotel receptionist, Joseph L Brown.

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'We watched a gay wedding at the Chollas View Community Church in San Diego.'

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Dearly beloved, we have come together in this house of the Lord to bear witness to the blessing of the union

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of Ed and Joe who present themselves before God and this company.

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'Though the ceremony wasn't recognised by law,

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'it did offer the first gay kiss to be seen on British television, which seemed ardent enough.

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'We then moved on to Malibu...

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'to join a vocal MCC meeting.'

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Gay Power!

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Gay Power!

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'We now forget the intense feeling that was aroused by Gay Power which came close to home

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'when one member of the Whicker's World team was so alarmed by my decision to film gay action

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'that he retreated to bed with a diplomatic cold

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'and only emerged with relief a while later when the filming was over.

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'Some people showed their feelings in more violent ways.'

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Arsonists set fire to this first MCC church in Los Angeles and to another gay church at San Francisco.

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This church was founded five years ago by a young minister from Florida

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who'd been expelled from his Pentecostal church

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for leaving his wife and children and admitting he was gay. The Reverend Troy Perry.

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We'd had some experiences this last year with people becoming more militant

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in their actions against the homosexual community in this country.

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'A few weeks before our filming, 32 men had been burned to death in a gay-church fire in New Orleans.'

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The police are saying they don't find any evidence that it was arson, but I've heard that story before.

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I know good and well that, if it'd been 50 or even 30 individuals who were prominent

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in the community in New Orleans, outside of our community, they would be turning that town upside down

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trying to find out what happened, but I heard the comments that were made -

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faggot, queer, pervert, child molesters!

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And you know something - I've learned to hate those kind of labels.

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But praise God, with God's help, we won't be afraid any more!

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APPLAUSE

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Homosexuals are black, they're brown, they're white, they're millionaires, they're paupers,

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they're ditch-diggers, they're presidents, they're whatever, and as a result of that, you don't have...

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It's easier for a gay person to cross over and be a heterosexual for the day, if he has to be.

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'I called on Troy Perry again after some 30 years.

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'He now lives with his partner in Silver Lake, a suburb of Los Angeles,

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'where I went to hear about the impact of our original programme.'

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I had friends from Great Britain that I called who were involved

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with a church there that was thinking about coming into our denomination.

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When I called them, they said, "Well, be very careful."

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They said, "He's a great interviewer but sometimes his questions can be tough."

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Once the programme was shown, I called my friends in Great Britain.

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They broke down crying and said, "You don't know how encouraging...

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"This is the first time in Great Britain that there has ever been

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"a positive TV show that showed gay people just as they are."

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Because there are so many of you, you're beginning to feel your political muscle.

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Yes, that's correct.

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As a minority group, I think you should become more organised.

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Once you wake up and you realise the system is the system because you permit it to be that way.

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Yet, of course, no oppressed minority is ever content until it converts the majority!

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No, that's true. And yet we...though you CAN convert the majority.

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I think the blacks in this country have converted the majority, and I think that's true, yes.

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There's no way as a minority group that we'll ever stop

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until we at least have people looking at us and saying, "OK, what makes you different from anyone else?"

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And saying to them. "Well, not really anything, other than what we pick for a love object."

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Notice I didn't say sex object but love object.

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And in my case, in my bedroom, I happen to like vanilla ice cream and you like chocolate.

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What are your ultimate goals?

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Oh, we want to see the laws changed.

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We want to educate the public.

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Politically, we want to certainly see qualified homosexuals run for office and win.

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I think the time's coming. There was a time in this country when they said blacks could never win but they did,

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and it'll happen in this country too, and it'll happen first in California.

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'In 2008, California became the first state where any gay American can legally get married,

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'a significant step in Troy Perry's campaign.'

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It's very important to me because I come from a very moral family who taught me to go to church,

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to go to Sunday school, and they said, "Get married,"

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and for me it was one of the most important things in my life.

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When I asked Philip to marry me, though we'd been together for 18 years,

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you don't know how emotional that was for me.

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-I've been living with my partner for more than 30 years and we're not married...

-Yes.

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..and I feel no sense of loss in that.

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Right. I say to gay folks and to heterosexuals, "I know there are folks who are not going to marry,

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"and that's perfectly all right to me. But for God's sake, don't stop me from marrying because I want to."

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It means we're being treated like everybody else.

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That's all I've ever asked for in my fight.

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I don't ask for any more but I refuse to settle for anything less

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than what every other citizen in this country and our constitution says you can have.

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# And if our backs should ever be against the wall

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# We'll be together...#

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It'll be there.

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The Lord is my shepherd and he knows I'm gay. Amen!

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# We'll be together... #

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'Sadly for Troy Perry, that legislation on gay marriage was subsequently overturned.

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'In '79, I returned to San Francisco to film two programmes around its new police force.

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'These showed how the city's diverse population was now reflected by its guardians.

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'Almost 30 years ago, the SFPD, protecting the most liberal of cities in the most liberal of states

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'had just begun to recruit women and gays.'

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Though, as often happens, the minority trail's been blazed by women.

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The first police women sworn in five years ago were given the same duties and pay, same status and training,

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even, unfortunately, the same uniforms as men.

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'I spent a couple of weeks with the police, chasing villains up and down those famous hillsides,

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'dodging hoodlums and trams.'

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-SIREN WAILS

-Any description of a suspect?

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There's no description.

0:24:300:24:32

'If I hadn't been on the scene and running with the cops, viewers would doubtless have believed

0:24:320:24:39

'our nightly dramas were really Starsky and Hutch, or even Kojak!'

0:24:390:24:43

SIREN WAILS

0:24:430:24:45

You are five foot nothing.

0:24:450:24:48

Do you strike fear into a wrong-doer when you appear or do they laugh at you or...?

0:24:480:24:54

I have never had anyone laugh at me.

0:24:540:24:56

A lot of people, just from the mere fact that you are a police officer

0:24:560:25:01

will either respect you or disrespect you, regardless if you're a man or a woman.

0:25:010:25:06

Oh, come here. Oh...

0:25:100:25:12

What happened to you, huh?

0:25:120:25:14

-Oh, I'm so scared.

-Sit down, sit down.

0:25:140:25:18

Here. Sit down. Sit down over here.

0:25:180:25:20

Just sit right there.

0:25:200:25:22

Get us a code 3408...

0:25:220:25:25

Who did that to you?

0:25:250:25:28

-Did somebody rip off your dope and beat you up?

-They had dope but they...

0:25:280:25:35

Just hang in there, partner, it's all right.

0:25:350:25:37

SIREN WAILS

0:25:400:25:42

I've known that guy for a long time.

0:25:420:25:44

He's an old dope dealer but he's a really nice old guy.

0:25:440:25:47

He's bleeding, in shock, he was totally...

0:25:470:25:50

His name is Pop Davies. I asked him that and, you know, maybe he got burned or who knows why?

0:25:500:25:55

You just never know.

0:25:550:25:57

The victims are...

0:25:570:25:59

Half the time, they're the suspects, you know.

0:25:590:26:01

Next day they're the victim.

0:26:010:26:02

Less dangerous but perhaps equally distasteful, Patrol Officer Mary-Ann on duty.

0:26:050:26:11

She's on the prostitution detail, guarded by two back-up men.

0:26:110:26:16

Right, you want a date?

0:26:160:26:18

What do you want to do on the date?

0:26:180:26:20

Sex.

0:26:230:26:24

Making love.

0:26:240:26:26

The police here arrest whores and their clients, the johns, the tricks.

0:26:260:26:30

Once he's offered money and solicited prostitution, the arm of the law reaches out.

0:26:300:26:35

Her back-ups are a real-life Starsky and Hutch.

0:26:350:26:38

Now, with the best will in the world, I find myself rather sorry for these johns.

0:26:380:26:43

It's just a couple of guys on their way home and they want to go to bed

0:26:430:26:47

with a girl, and the next minute, they find themselves handcuffed.

0:26:470:26:51

Yeah, well, a lot of times the girls out here will take them up into the hotel rooms and they'll rip them off

0:26:510:26:58

and beat them up or their pimps will jump out of the closet and beat them up or something.

0:26:580:27:03

Really, some of them we've probably saved from losing a lot more money and everything else, you know,

0:27:030:27:09

that they might have if they go into these places.

0:27:090:27:12

And then again, some of these guys turn around and get the whores up to the rooms

0:27:120:27:17

and beat them up and take what little they've got too. It's not just a victimless crime.

0:27:170:27:22

Even in San Francisco's enlightened police department, no woman has yet risen to the rank of sergeant.

0:27:220:27:27

Officer Maureen, now under cover, understands why.

0:27:270:27:31

We were forced to have to prove ourselves.

0:27:310:27:34

From the first day we were sworn in, we were told, "You're not gonna make it."

0:27:340:27:40

I have mixed emotions whether we can do it or not.

0:27:400:27:43

I can do 99% of the job on the street,

0:27:430:27:47

but when that 1% comes up, somebody is going to get hurt, whether it be the woman or the woman's partner.

0:27:470:27:53

-You're just a weak and feeble woman. Is that what you're saying?

-Sure!

0:27:530:27:57

I can't walk to my car at night because I'm just a little, feeble lady! Someone might mug me.

0:27:570:28:04

I wear a uniform and pack a gun, but I'm still a woman.

0:28:040:28:07

'That "feeble woman" is now a homicide inspector

0:28:090:28:13

'and, since 2004, the SFPD has had its first woman police chief.'

0:28:130:28:18

Now you're in homicide.

0:28:180:28:20

-That's right.

-And that's the toughest and the bloodiest of all.

0:28:200:28:24

It's certainly the bloodiest and they say it is the toughest, but it was my dream.

0:28:240:28:29

When I came into the police academy back in 1975 and we were being trained,

0:28:290:28:35

and those homicide inspectors that came in to train us,

0:28:350:28:39

they probably had 25 years in the business, so they were ancient.

0:28:390:28:45

And when they came in in their three-piece suits with their watch chains across their vests

0:28:450:28:50

and they were telling their war stories, I just sat there with eyes wide open

0:28:500:28:55

and said that's what I wanted to do some day.

0:28:550:28:58

Would you have believed back in '79 at our first interview

0:28:580:29:02

that there was going to be a woman police chief?

0:29:020:29:05

Yes, because it was just... something that was going to have to happen sooner or later,

0:29:070:29:13

in very much the same way we almost had a woman

0:29:130:29:17

running for President in the United States this election period.

0:29:170:29:21

So it was just a matter of time.

0:29:210:29:24

They could beat us down in the beginning a little bit,

0:29:240:29:27

but if we were strong enough, which I believed, and nasty enough to hang in there, out of sheer spite,

0:29:270:29:34

and our character... I never thought I would be a strong woman, you know,

0:29:340:29:39

somebody that would fight for my rights, but you just had to hang in there and have the guts

0:29:390:29:45

and the determination to ride the wave and it would eventually be your turn. And it came to be true.

0:29:450:29:52

Let's take a hike. Let's go.

0:29:520:29:55

'The two Whicker's Worlds which followed our weeks with the San Francisco Police

0:29:550:30:00

'were afterwards used as instructional films by police academies across America.'

0:30:000:30:04

Be cool or you'll end up on your fuckin' ass.

0:30:040:30:09

-..You wanna check me, I've got nothing on me.

-You have no ID?

0:30:090:30:13

If you have ID, we can cite you. If you don't, you're going to have to go to jail.

0:30:130:30:18

'On this visit, I was honoured by a massed parade of recruits in training at the police academy.'

0:30:180:30:24

Recruits, I want to introduce to you Mr Alan Whicker who's come from the United Kingdom

0:30:240:30:31

to take a look at something he looked at 30 years ago, and I wanted to take the opportunity today

0:30:310:30:38

to tell him how great we are, because every community is represented in this department.

0:30:380:30:44

The recruits nowadays go through nearly a year's worth of training.

0:30:450:30:49

And what age? From what to what?

0:30:490:30:51

Well, their ages run - you'd be interested in this -

0:30:510:30:55

they start as young as 21 and the oldest I can think of was 54 when he graduated from police academy.

0:30:550:31:03

Then I was reunited with my class of '79.

0:31:030:31:07

CHEERING Welcome back!

0:31:070:31:12

Wow. Wow.

0:31:150:31:17

I got the pretty ones, you see?

0:31:170:31:19

Oh, that's very kind.

0:31:190:31:21

Do you remember us?

0:31:210:31:24

I remember you, of course, so well.

0:31:240:31:27

I wonder how that happened?!

0:31:290:31:31

Yes, hello, sir. Mindy Pringle.

0:31:310:31:33

-Nice to meet you again.

-Judy Purcell.

0:31:330:31:36

-Hello, Judy. Of course, I've got loads of cuttings about you and your performance.

-It's good to see you.

0:31:360:31:42

-Marnie McDowell.

-Hello.

0:31:420:31:43

Mary-Ann, the prostitute.

0:31:430:31:45

-Stefan Thorn.

-Ah, Stefan.

0:31:470:31:50

Yes, nice to see you again.

0:31:500:31:52

'Some had changed more than others.

0:31:520:31:55

'When we first met, Stefan was Stephanie.'

0:31:550:31:59

I can remember you seven months ago, when you were trying to get in, you were a very aggressive lesbian,

0:31:590:32:05

you were wearing a "super dyke" T-shirt. You've got much more gentle now you're a cop.

0:32:050:32:11

Well...

0:32:110:32:14

that depends. Uh...

0:32:140:32:17

-I mean, you're not joining us, are you?

-No.

0:32:170:32:21

I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and that identity...I will never let go of my identity and my ideals.

0:32:210:32:29

'Since I last saw them, many of my recruits have become senior officers.'

0:32:290:32:35

You have to be a little bit of an adrenalin junkie to have done this job, in particular for all of us,

0:32:350:32:42

um...as women and Stefan as our first transgender, I mean, you...

0:32:420:32:49

It's something that, in our normal lives prior to coming in, we weren't used to, and, um...

0:32:490:32:55

But I think we all got bit.

0:32:550:32:57

I think, once you got that in your blood and that adrenalin was going, it was really quite thrilling.

0:32:570:33:04

The most significant change to law enforcement was integration -

0:33:040:33:09

integration bringing women, sexual minorities, racial minorities...

0:33:090:33:14

bringing everyone in to the ranks of law enforcement had the most profound impact.

0:33:140:33:20

It has radically, I think, changed the culture, the police culture.

0:33:200:33:26

'We moved on from San Francisco to look at the dominant role of guns in American life.

0:33:310:33:38

'The right to bear arms is enshrined in the American constitution,

0:33:380:33:43

'but that proliferation brings with it the growing threat of violence and death.'

0:33:430:33:50

Today, the threatening shadow cast across the world's most ridiculed, most envied outpost

0:33:500:33:55

is the everyday dread of casual violence.

0:33:550:33:58

Los Angeles lost its innocence ten years ago after the mass killings by the Charles Manson Family.

0:33:580:34:03

You have a problem. This man only needs that much time to kill you

0:34:030:34:08

so you only have that much time to respond.

0:34:080:34:11

Ready!

0:34:110:34:13

Point, fire! Point, fire!

0:34:130:34:14

Point, fire! Point, fire!

0:34:140:34:16

'We spent a week in a basement in Glendale watching frightened people learn how to kill.'

0:34:160:34:23

All you've got to do get a bullet in the man's chest.

0:34:230:34:26

You've got to kill him. Ready?

0:34:260:34:28

Go!

0:34:280:34:30

Take your time.

0:34:310:34:33

Each one of them had survived some challenge by an armed thug intent upon wounding or killing,

0:34:350:34:42

and these people were determined they would never be victims again.

0:34:420:34:47

If it's necessary, you've got to blow some sucker's chest out.

0:34:470:34:51

One would expect that a doctor would be concerned with saving life, not learning how to kill.

0:34:510:34:57

-What brought you here?

-We had a very, very serious accident a little over a year ago

0:34:570:35:04

when I was putting some things in the trunk of my car after making rounds at the hospital which I attend.

0:35:040:35:12

A fellow came up to me and, as I slowly turned around and asked him, "What the hell do you want?"

0:35:120:35:19

he shot me. Shot me in the chest.

0:35:190:35:22

The bullet went in a downward position where it went through my liver and renal artery and kidney.

0:35:220:35:28

Right now you look in fairly good shape.

0:35:280:35:31

Well, it took months of recovery.

0:35:310:35:34

So now you've come here to learn to shoot first?

0:35:340:35:37

So it never happens again.

0:35:370:35:39

I was very avidly against guns

0:35:390:35:42

and I've never allowed a gun or anything in the house, but I feel differently now.

0:35:420:35:48

I don't ever wish to be in that position, and it's taken me a lot of guts to come here!

0:35:480:35:54

Go!

0:35:540:35:56

'I joined a Wild West training session and got closer to the action than I intended.'

0:36:000:36:06

Go! Move! Go into the water.

0:36:060:36:09

-What's the matter with you? Go!

-Duck!

0:36:090:36:12

-Was that a duck?

-No, it was me.

0:36:190:36:22

I didn't mean that at you.

0:36:220:36:25

That was me who'd to duck. Well done.

0:36:250:36:30

This is the judge, checking up on your...

0:36:300:36:32

-Handiwork.

-..your handiwork.

0:36:320:36:35

-How's she doing?

-She scored a nine and a zero.

0:36:350:36:38

A nine and a miss.

0:36:380:36:40

That means you're dead again. When you get psyched up like this, you're quite excited, really.

0:36:400:36:46

Isn't this the kind of thing...?

0:36:460:36:49

-Aren't you going to go out on the streets looking for a target?

-No.

0:36:490:36:52

I'll be more aware, you know. You never know who's going to crawl up and grab you or something.

0:36:520:36:58

It's constant fear but that's what today is nowadays - fear. You don't know who's going to do what.

0:36:580:37:04

Carol and Russell O'Rear know all about self-defence for they run

0:37:040:37:09

that most popular target for stick-up men looking for ready cash at night - a liquor store.

0:37:090:37:14

However, it seems some little old ladies can look after themselves.

0:37:140:37:19

This fellow, a white fellow, came in,

0:37:190:37:22

nobody around.

0:37:220:37:24

Just me and him. He came in the store and I was kind of jittery.

0:37:240:37:28

It seems like your heart beats when you see something like that.

0:37:280:37:31

He came in the store and I said, "Can I help you?"

0:37:310:37:34

And he says, "I want a pack of cigarettes, a pack of Camel."

0:37:340:37:39

When I went to pick up the Camels, here he had a 9mm German Luger automatic.

0:37:390:37:45

I tell you, I just froze when I saw that.

0:37:450:37:48

I thought, "He's gonna shoot me in the back of the head."

0:37:480:37:52

So, er...so then finally... He said, "Get down on the floor."

0:37:520:37:56

The floor was so darn dirty, I wasn't going to get down on the floor for him. Anyway, I said, "Oh, all right."

0:37:560:38:02

So there's still that gun on me and I thought, "Oh, boy," and he was such a mean-looking thing.

0:38:020:38:08

So I put my finger in the trigger...

0:38:080:38:10

Under the counter, we had a 3840, you know, one of those large old-fashioned guns?

0:38:100:38:16

So I put my finger in the trigger and I said, "Gee... I got to do something. Either him or me."

0:38:160:38:23

So I put my finger in and I went bang and I shot him right between the eyes.

0:38:230:38:28

Still there's nobody around. Nobody heard me.

0:38:280:38:31

So I thought, "Oh, heck, I'll take another chance and shoot him,"

0:38:310:38:34

so I shot him in the neck.

0:38:340:38:37

And down he went.

0:38:370:38:39

So I went around to see what...

0:38:390:38:41

I wanted to get a towel to wipe his face because, you know,

0:38:410:38:45

he was bleeding so bad, and he only took 39.

0:38:450:38:50

So I went to search his pocket, you know, to get the 39 back.

0:38:500:38:54

Before you knew it, I had seven cop cars and the television

0:38:540:38:58

and everything there and he was on the floor, but he was already dead.

0:38:580:39:05

So I said, "Say, listen, take that money out of his pocket. He's got my 39."

0:39:050:39:10

And it was bloody, so I took it and put it in the cash register, and they took him, and that was that.

0:39:100:39:16

When the bullet enters the skull, those dum-dums,

0:39:160:39:19

it flies to pieces, it flies into hundreds of pieces and just pulverises the brain.

0:39:190:39:25

-Yeah.

-So you didn't really need the second shot in the throat?

0:39:250:39:28

No, I did not. I just wanted to see how it feels!

0:39:280:39:31

-Was that the first time you'd killed anybody?

-Yes.

0:39:310:39:34

There was a few more.

0:39:340:39:37

A few more after that. But I shot two shots.

0:39:370:39:41

That's all I shoot. The third time I don't shoot.

0:39:410:39:44

And if I can't get 'em in those two, then I quit.

0:39:440:39:46

-You give up?

-I give up. Yeah.

0:39:460:39:48

Remember, California's said to be just a few years ahead of the world outside so, for the rest of us,

0:39:480:39:55

is this the way it's going to be?

0:39:550:39:57

'Los Angeles is a nowhere city.

0:40:030:40:07

'It's like living in a vast motel where everybody's about to leave.'

0:40:070:40:12

No-one has a past or a present or cares what you do.

0:40:120:40:17

There's no chance of establishing a relationship with the other guests

0:40:170:40:21

for they're all due to check out in a day or two.

0:40:210:40:24

Despite such restlessness, such indifference,

0:40:240:40:27

its residents talk more than any other people in the world about "meaningful relationships",

0:40:270:40:34

yet I suspect would not know how to handle one if it took them by the throat.

0:40:340:40:40

# Well, I'm standing on the corner watching every kind of car

0:40:510:40:56

# Friendly people come and say they want to know... #

0:40:560:41:00

'In my 1979 California series, we filmed an entire show on Sunset Boulevard,

0:41:000:41:05

'covering its extremes from the mountains to the shining sea.

0:41:050:41:09

'That single street said everything there was to say about the city and its way of life.

0:41:090:41:16

'We took a look at Plato's Retreat West, a private club for swingers in Hollywood.'

0:41:180:41:25

Everything in that club was then allowed, except alcohol and unescorted males.

0:41:310:41:38

The police had just raided the club and, after some puzzled hesitation,

0:41:380:41:43

cited management for operating pinball machines without a permit.

0:41:430:41:49

In this drab side street, the club was active until dawn.

0:41:490:41:54

Many of its 5,000 members kept busy having sex with strangers.

0:41:540:41:59

# Night fever, night fever

0:41:590:42:02

# We know how to show it... #

0:42:020:42:04

The orgy centre was called the mat room

0:42:080:42:11

as though part of some gymnasium which in a way I suppose it was.

0:42:110:42:16

After crossing its mattresses, I decided to burn my socks.

0:42:160:42:21

I talked to a couple who'd been married for three years.

0:42:240:42:28

Michael, an electrician, aged 27, and Susie, a nurse of 23, were regulars.

0:42:280:42:35

I would think bringing a woman in here would be paying her something of an insult, really.

0:42:350:42:40

Sex exhilarates me.

0:42:400:42:42

I feel good afterwards.

0:42:430:42:46

But what about the other women in a place like this? Are they as young as you or are they not older?

0:42:460:42:49

I saw some much older women outside.

0:42:490:42:52

There's... I once met a lady and...

0:42:520:42:56

I made her show me her driver's licence just to prove the age she was, but she was 82,

0:42:560:43:02

-and she...

-In a swingers' club?

-Yeah, but she...

-How was she doing?

0:43:020:43:08

She acted like about a 37-year-old lady. Her mind was as sharp as a razor.

0:43:080:43:14

A man who sleeps with a lot of women is supposed to be a gay dog,

0:43:140:43:18

-but a woman who sleeps with a lot of men is supposed to be a tramp.

-Yes.

0:43:180:43:22

Would you sometimes go with more than one man in an evening?

0:43:220:43:24

-Sometimes.

-How many?

0:43:240:43:26

I think my maximum is...three? Three.

0:43:260:43:30

Three in one evening.

0:43:300:43:32

I mean, men, perhaps it's another thing, but doesn't it devalue women totally?

0:43:320:43:38

I don't see why.

0:43:380:43:40

Women complain about being sex objects.

0:43:400:43:42

Well, I'm not a sex object. I'm an individual.

0:43:420:43:45

I wondered why the founder Larry had chosen to call his swappers' club Plato's.

0:43:540:43:59

It was just that we wanted to use a name that was either Greek or Roman

0:43:590:44:04

because it's very erotic, so I just decided, Plato's was a simple name. It was the only one I could spell!

0:44:040:44:09

After that, I found out that Plato was gay but it was too late.

0:44:090:44:13

All over the world, there's wars and everything else.

0:44:130:44:17

That doesn't bother anybody, but Plato's Retreat people get furious about. For what reason?

0:44:170:44:22

We're here happy, having a good time.

0:44:220:44:24

When we leave here, we go back to society,

0:44:240:44:26

'Plato's Retreat closed down within a year of my visit.

0:44:280:44:32

'Today, it's a less controversial club though I suspect its past is more interesting than its present.

0:44:320:44:40

'In Hollywood, women have always had a powerful presence on-screen,

0:44:490:44:52

'yet it was not until 1980 that there was a female studio head,

0:44:520:44:56

'when I shared breakfast with Sherry Lansing, then the most powerful woman in the film industry.'

0:44:560:45:04

How does a little school teacher get to be a big shot so quickly?

0:45:040:45:09

Because you've done it very rapidly,

0:45:090:45:12

-and you haven't done it by the casting-couch route.

-No!

0:45:120:45:16

I also don't think that exists any more, the casting-couch route. Um...

0:45:160:45:21

All my ideals are going.

0:45:210:45:23

All the reasons why you're here have just disappeared.

0:45:230:45:26

-What can you believe in any more?

-I don't think the casting-couch route exists at all any more.

0:45:260:45:31

There's too much money being spent on movies, too few movies being made, to take a risk on something like that.

0:45:310:45:38

'Sherry had a clear philosophy about life in Hollywood's fastest lane.'

0:45:380:45:43

The woman who is a housewife - I feel so strongly about this - who has no working life,

0:45:430:45:50

but who has a husband and two children, which I don't have, has certain things that I don't have.

0:45:500:45:58

I have certain things that she doesn't have.

0:45:580:46:01

You give up certain things to get what you want, but you don't get it all.

0:46:010:46:07

I mean, I work very hard and I like it, but I do go home alone

0:46:070:46:11

and I don't have children, so I don't have everything.

0:46:110:46:14

And if she's envious of me, then I'm envious of her because she has things that I don't have.

0:46:140:46:19

The mistake that everybody makes is that they want everything.

0:46:190:46:22

I learned you can't have it all.

0:46:220:46:25

'Sherry ran Paramount for 12 years and in that time also got married, so maybe she DID have it all.

0:46:280:46:35

'My old friend Joan Collins created a powerful television monster and became world-famous.'

0:46:480:46:56

Her role in Dynasty made Joan Collins a sort of template for the '80s.

0:46:560:47:01

With its kitsch story lines and impossibly handsome cast, the series attracted huge audiences.

0:47:010:47:08

Professional and brilliant at playing Joan,

0:47:080:47:11

she achieved through television the international super-stardom that had eluded her on film.

0:47:110:47:18

Always perfectly turned out, she played the part of Alexis Carrington to the hilt

0:47:180:47:24

and that character was to follow her forever.

0:47:240:47:27

It seems to me that there are only two kinds of people on television

0:47:270:47:32

in terms of women, and that's the bitch or the wimp.

0:47:320:47:36

There's nothing in-between. It's rather pathetic. Women are so categorised.

0:47:360:47:41

They should be able to cross over.

0:47:410:47:43

They should be able to be both because nobody is just one thing.

0:47:430:47:46

And if Alexis was a man, they would not call him a bitch.

0:47:460:47:51

They couldn't dare call him a bastard cos you can't say that word on TV.

0:47:510:47:55

Um, I don't know. They'd probably say, "A strong, tough, aggressive man, isn't that wonderful?"

0:47:550:48:00

But because I'm a woman, "She's a bitch," and it's just...that.

0:48:000:48:03

MUSIC: Theme from Dynasty

0:48:030:48:05

When we talked on the Dynasty set all those years ago, you said that,

0:48:110:48:15

in real life, you believed a strong, assertive woman got a bad deal.

0:48:150:48:21

It's true, but, um...I mean, look at Maggie Thatcher.

0:48:210:48:24

I thought that she was absolutely wonderful, that she was strong and assertive. She was loathed.

0:48:240:48:29

Look at Hillary Clinton.

0:48:290:48:31

And, um, people do not like very assertive women that know their mind

0:48:310:48:36

and that, you know, have a tendency to tell you off.

0:48:360:48:40

Now, Hollywood is a notoriously cruel place.

0:48:400:48:45

How did you survive?

0:48:450:48:47

Cos I'm tough.

0:48:470:48:49

No, I survived because I don't take any of it too seriously.

0:48:490:48:53

I suspect that it was easier being a star in the old days when the stars were all protected by the studios.

0:48:530:49:02

I think it's really true. I don't know how those people

0:49:020:49:07

who are really on the cover of all the magazines and just so famous, I don't know how they cope.

0:49:070:49:13

Like Angelina Jolie. She's pregnant, she's carrying one child,

0:49:130:49:17

there's another one in her hand, she goes out, she gets flash, flash.

0:49:170:49:21

She never complains. I have great admiration for that cos I think it must be really tough.

0:49:210:49:27

-Really tough.

-Being famous for being stunning

0:49:270:49:31

must be a considerable burden to you.

0:49:310:49:35

You can't slip out to the newsagent's to buy a paper unless you're looking your absolute best.

0:49:350:49:41

I think that people today want to see their stars looking, you know, worse than them.

0:49:410:49:47

I went out with my daughter once, Tara, in disguise to Bermondsey antique market, five in the morning,

0:49:490:49:54

and I had no make-up, I was very dressed down, I had an old headscarf on,

0:49:540:49:59

an old mac, and I'm going along and looking at the stalls.

0:49:590:50:02

Tara's following after me and she comes up and says, "Mummy, do you know what that man just said?"

0:50:020:50:08

I said, "No, what?" He said, "Here, Ida, that was Joan Collins. You look better than she does!"

0:50:080:50:15

So I can look really horrible if I want to.

0:50:150:50:19

Looking back then, is there anything in real life that you wish you had done differently?

0:50:190:50:26

Life is a series of lessons and, um...you know, everybody makes mistakes.

0:50:260:50:32

Show me a person who hasn't made a mistake and I'll show you somebody who hasn't lived properly.

0:50:320:50:37

Beverly Hills houses today's over-achievers,

0:50:560:50:59

though, once you stop achieving, nobody talks to you.

0:50:590:51:04

California is so familiar from films and television that we know it well, even if we've never been here.

0:51:040:51:10

Palm trees and beautiful people, endless sunshine,

0:51:100:51:14

the good, the bad and the totally nutty, where everything is "now".

0:51:140:51:19

MUSIC: Theme from The Pink Panther

0:51:190:51:22

Piccadilly Thircuth, there you are, there's Eroth.

0:51:270:51:30

Now, just by shaking it, we can see it in the storm.

0:51:300:51:35

There you are, do you see the snow?

0:51:350:51:36

It's lovely to have. You see, when you get all this sun out here,

0:51:360:51:40

it's lovely to see a bit of snow cos we never see snow in Los Angeles.

0:51:400:51:44

And I have Buckingham Palace also in the same situation.

0:51:440:51:49

I first met Peter Sellers in the old Tonight days

0:51:530:51:57

when, one evening at Lime Grove, I interviewed his mother, a forceful lady to whom he was devoted.

0:51:570:52:03

That stood in my credit.

0:52:030:52:05

Years later, I spent a day with him in Beverly Hills, in a splendid rented house on Summit Ridge

0:52:050:52:12

where he was living with his latest wife, the beautiful Lynne Frederick.

0:52:120:52:17

He was then at the peak of his film career and had a reputation for being difficult

0:52:170:52:23

but, that day, he was a delight - funny, perceptive and engaging.

0:52:230:52:29

He was happy, though in the harsh California sunlight, his skin looked a little grey.

0:52:290:52:35

He'd stumble as he walked down a flight of steps and my director said, "This may be his obituary."

0:52:350:52:42

So it proved.

0:52:420:52:45

A few weeks later, Peter flew to London and suffered a fatal heart attack.

0:52:450:52:49

Ours was probably the last interview he gave.

0:52:490:52:53

I happen to be one of those sort of people that...

0:52:530:52:56

was born and will die in England because I've got sort of London in me.

0:52:560:53:01

I was born in Yorkshire, but I've been living in London all my life, and there's something...

0:53:010:53:06

Although I can't stay there all the time, there's something about the place that, er,

0:53:060:53:11

I can't get away from and, you know, I don't want to get away from.

0:53:110:53:16

So I could never actually live here.

0:53:160:53:18

So what is it then that gets up your nose about working here?

0:53:180:53:21

It's difficult to answer that now.

0:53:270:53:29

I don't know.

0:53:290:53:31

I don't know. They say the British are rude, I suppose.

0:53:330:53:36

I've heard that said many times.

0:53:360:53:39

I'd sooner...

0:53:390:53:42

for example...be at home and have somebody say to me,

0:53:420:53:50

"I saw your last film, mate. It was a load of shit,"

0:53:500:53:54

which I've had on several occasions, so excuse me!

0:53:540:53:58

Or... I mean, I'd sooner put up with that than I would the sort of thing that happens here.

0:53:580:54:06

I remember very well going through a very bad patch at one time in my life, living in this town for a bit,

0:54:060:54:14

and several well-known people were crossing the road in order not to bump into me.

0:54:140:54:20

So you really know when the skids are under you, you know.

0:54:200:54:24

I know one thing, that...it's fine to work here.

0:54:240:54:30

Spike and I, when we were doing the Goon Show, we used to call them "herns".

0:54:300:54:34

If you can't hear what they're saying,

0:54:340:54:37

it's like a rhubarb sound, they're saying, "Hern, hern, hern.

0:54:370:54:42

"What do you think, hern, hern, hern?"

0:54:420:54:45

A lot of the Goon Shows had the herns in them. Hern, sir, hern.

0:54:450:54:51

Hern, Lieutenant, hern.

0:54:510:54:53

-So...

-The goonery is a joy of lost youth for you, isn't it?

-Oh, yes, the best, happiest days of my life.

0:54:530:55:00

You can live wherever you want to in the world. The fact that you're here for what, a year, two years...?

0:55:000:55:05

Er, no, I'm going back to Europe.

0:55:050:55:10

I'm going to have a holiday next, a much-needed holiday.

0:55:100:55:14

I'm going back to Europe and I'll probably stay in Europe

0:55:140:55:17

till I do another movie, which will be in Paris.

0:55:170:55:21

-Nobody seems to have any friends here.

-No. You see, the British tend to keep together

0:55:210:55:27

because they have these parties down the road and all of that,

0:55:270:55:32

and they all sort of get together and talk about Harrods and all that.

0:55:320:55:38

And that's about it, really, unless you want to get caught up with the Hollywood set

0:55:380:55:45

and get mixed up with those parties, but forget it, you know. Not for me.

0:55:450:55:50

Very private person. Very private.

0:55:500:55:54

A lot of people think I'm a right twit because I'm very quiet, but I can't take it, you know.

0:55:540:56:01

I work so hard when I work that I like to be very quiet

0:56:010:56:06

and just think and meditate and...

0:56:060:56:10

wander round taking photographs.

0:56:100:56:13

There is an argument that, wherever you live in the world - in Gstaad or in Port Grimaud or London or here -

0:56:130:56:21

that you only have about five or ten friends anyway,

0:56:210:56:24

and you'll surround yourself with five or ten chosen people wherever you are.

0:56:240:56:30

So you've got your five or ten friends here.

0:56:300:56:33

You've also got the best that the world can provide in everything -

0:56:330:56:37

in food and cars and wine and...

0:56:370:56:41

But I don't have any friends here.

0:56:410:56:44

Real friends. I don't have any people I'd really call...

0:56:440:56:48

I've only got...two really good friends - no, three at the most - in my life.

0:56:490:56:57

And, er...

0:56:590:57:01

..and they're all in London.

0:57:030:57:05

May I show you, just before we leave, a little twick I learnt from an American.

0:57:050:57:12

I'll do it with the Union Jack

0:57:120:57:15

because it's better to start with it than end with it, if you know what I mean.

0:57:150:57:19

As they said when they left India!

0:57:190:57:21

So here we go. Um, now...

0:57:210:57:24

My head is in the tea cloth.

0:57:260:57:29

Ready?

0:57:310:57:33

My head has gone. Brilliant.

0:57:330:57:37

Thank you so much.

0:57:370:57:38

'Some months after Peter's final happy interview, ITV asked me to present his obituary.'

0:57:410:57:48

So we've lost Peter Sellers.

0:57:480:57:51

We've lost the clown who made the world happier than he made himself.

0:57:510:57:55

Peter Sellers, who spent his life imitating others,

0:57:550:57:58

was an accumulation of all the roles he'd ever played, all the people he'd ever met.

0:57:580:58:03

So, to every one of you, Peter, goodbye and thanks.

0:58:030:58:08

'Next time, the journey continues as we cross America

0:58:100:58:13

'and I can finally catch up with one of my favourite couples.'

0:58:130:58:16

My dear chap.

0:58:160:58:18

You haven't changed a bit, except you're a bit younger.

0:58:180:58:22

And Kathy! Excuse me.

0:58:220:58:23

You look fucking great!

0:58:230:58:26

Don't let that be on!

0:58:260:58:28

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.


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