Paul Gorman is…

Documentaries: Up pops Tommy Roberts in Three Swings On A Pendulum (1967)

//Roberts, right, tries on a military greatcoat at I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet.//

Look out for an appearance by Tommy Roberts – subject of my new book – in the 1967 documentary Three Swings On A Pendulum, currently available for viewing (in the UK at least) on BBC iPlayer.

//Exterior, I was Lord Kitchener's Valet, Portobello Road, Notting Hill, west London.//

//John Paul, left, and Charlie Simpson.//

//Outside John Stephen's Male W1, Carnaby Street.//

Roberts is among the crowd at I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, along with Charlie Simpson, his partner in central London boutique Kleptomania, and John Paul, the Kitchener’s owner who became Roberts’ partner in the second incarnation of Mr Freedom.

The film hangs on visits to Swinging London hotspots by three outsiders: the great Australian art critic Robert Hughes makes an early media appearance with exiled South African writer Lewis Nkosi and Paris-based journalist Olivier Todd.

//Robert Hughes working at home.//

//Lewis Nkosi reads from The Wonder Book Of Empire at Gear, Carnaby Street.//

//Olivier Todd considers a guard's jacket.//

Although their investigation is laced with the casual sexism of the era and a selection of shooting-fish-in-a-barrel observations, the trio nevertheless get to grips with a city undergoing seismic social and cultural change; Hughes, lest we forget, was already contributing to Oz and they are blessed with a selection of charming respondents to a King’s Road vox-pop, among them the actress Geraldine Chaplin.

Visiting boutiques in Carnaby Street and Kensington – among them Gear and Biba – and stalls in Portobello Road, Hughes homes in on the appeal of Victoriana and Edwardiana during this period. “Camp transforms the past into theatre,” says Hughes, before he and his pals indulge in such curious episodes as the cartoon destruction of a vintage car.

//Car smashing interlude.//

/Female customer in Biba, Kensington.//

//Male Biba customer.//

//Actress Geraldine Chaplin.//

//Interviewing playwright Arnold Wesker at The Roundhouse, then home to his Centre 42 drama group.//

Check out Three Swings On A Pendulum here.

Thanks to Ben Olins for alerting me to it’s availability as part of the BBC’s London Collection.

Buy a signed copy of my Tommy Roberts book here.

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Author: / Published: Jul 31st, 2012 / Category: Boutiques, Documentaries, Film, London, Tommy Roberts: Mister Freedom / Comments: 1

One Response to “Documentaries: Up pops Tommy Roberts in Three Swings On A Pendulum (1967)”


  1. Robert Hughes 1938-2012 « Paul Gorman is…
    on Aug 7th, 2012
    @ 10:50 am

    [...] I mentioned him just last week in passing in relation to his appearance in the 1967 documentary Three Swings On A Pendulum. [...]

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