Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


BBC Panorama LSD experiment 1955

In one of the most famous unbroadcast television programmes of all time, the very jolly Christopher Mayhew MP ingests 400mg of mescaline hydrochloride for the cameras. The documentary, ultimately, didn’t see the light of day for over thirty years.

Incidentally, this footage is spoofed hilariously in this segment from The Day Today (see after the jump), in which Alan Partridge is filmed being “fellated by a young girl, known as a ‘groupie’..”

“It’s an interesting feeling, and certainly quite relaxing,” he reports. Later, those feelings of euphoria have been replaced by ones of inadequacy and gloom. “It’s not an experience I can see catching on,” he concludes. “But neither is it one which I regret.” (17min 15sec onwards.)

March 3rd, 2010.

15 Responses to “BBC Panorama LSD experiment 1955”

  1. David Says:

    I was only telling someone about that BBC thing over the weekend! Fantastic.
    Pat Kenny was examining some of those legal drugs from head shops on the Frontline last night, I was hoping a similar “experiment” would ensue, sadly not.

  2. Eoin Says:

    Actually, when those head shops came in first circa 2006, I took pretty much all the drugs they sold and reviewed them in an article for Mongrel. Can’t remember what my conclusions were now though.

  3. DD Says:

    Well that sounds like a good idea.

    Love the plummy Brit guy. Good show old fellow!

  4. Eoin Says:

    @ DD – yes he is a damned good chap.

  5. Colin Says:

    Excellent videos.

    I enjoy the frank and honest way that Mayhew discusses his experience. That he accepts the explanations given to him but that none of this matters as it was a deeply personel and profound moment for him. All related to Aldous Huxley.

    These experiments always remind me of this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-rWnQphPdQ . The best nation for taking experimental drugs were the Britsh of the 40s/50s. That stiff upper lip just adds to the comedy.

    Still waiting on the “Four Lions” film from Chris Morris. Rumour had it that it was going to be the “Surprise film” at the Jameson festival. But no, that ended up being Greenberg, a Noah Baumbach movie starring Ben Stiller. Arse!

  6. Eoin Says:

    @ Colin – Four Lions is shit apparently (although, can’t remember where I heard that now…)

  7. Colin Says:

    @Eoin: NOOOooo!!! Yer lying!! You heard it from someone with no understanding of humour. Won’t believe it till I see it.

    Btw lies hurt.

  8. Eoin Says:


    P.S. The writer has a PhD in Humour Studies.

  9. Colin Says:

    @Eoin: FUUUuuuuck!

    Really wanted to slate the guy who wrote that review, Jeremy Kay. But it all read fair enough, with probable good points.

    That and when I read what he thought of Hurt Locker I was in full agreement. Guess I cant argue with that PhD.

    Damn and damn again. Ah well, meh… hear “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is good.

  10. Eoin Says:

    What did he say about the Hurt Locker? I really liked that film but I see since the Oscar campaign turned dirty the knives have been out for it.

    Interesting piece in the NY Times yesterday, basically saying that since the film isn’t a 100% accurate representation of what its like to be a soldier in Iraq it is therefore not a valid piece of art.


    Which is bullshit, obviously.

  11. Colin Says:

    He said: “The Hurt Locker is far and away the best movie in what has been a rather poor year for English-language fare; it deserves to win three major prizes [at the Oscars].”

    As for the NY Times piece and other similar ones I’ve seen, action movies tend to step on accuracy in favor of dramatic tension, story structure and pacing. Cause it’s a movie not a documentary, hell U-571 replaced British troops with Americans and a decapitated Jon Bon Jovi. You could make the gripes he made about every single war movie.

    There’s also plenty who are critical that the movie had an ambiguous message, as in it didnt shove the moral signposting the critic wanted down our throats. Pity, cause I always enjoy when Hollywood does that.

    Bullshit indeed.

  12. Eoin Says:

    No film, not even The Battle of Algiers, is 100% accurate or even close. And it would be unwatchable if it was.

    P.S. You’ve just ruined U-571 for me.

  13. Colin Says:

    “You’ve just ruined U-571 for me.”

    No, my brother, I just jumped on a grenade for you.

  14. Eoin Says:

    You think I’m gonna miss seeing Jon Bon Jovi get decapitated? No way, my friend!

  15. Darragh Says:

    Glad the Hurt Locker got Oscars in the end. I’m with you Eoin, watching it on DVD before all the hype (with my mam actually) I was pretty much pummeled by it.

    The morally presumptuous weirdness about whether Kathryn Bigelow should make some sort of politically monochrome statement about Iraq was a ghastly indicator of Hollywood’s sheepish and meaningless liberalism. Especially seeing as the film’s moral ambiguity served a key role the viewer’s impressions of the main characters.

    And as for suddenly pedantic critic creeps calling it out on not being technically true-to-life, well, an obvious retort would be to ask them if they apply the same realism rule to their opinions of the likes of Schindler’s list (was WWII really in black and white apart from an emotionally red balloon carried by a child?), Apocalypse now (were the carpet bombing of Vietnamese villages a visceral choreographed display of disembodied limbs set to Wagner?) the Deerhunter (were the Viet Cong genetically sociopathic loons drunk on torture, gambling and screaming in high voices), and Forrest Gump (Does being liberal give you AIDS?).

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