1960

January 2 – John F. Kennedy announces his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

January 10 – Harold Macmillan makes ‘The Wind of Change’ speech for first time, signalling the British government’s intention to press ahead with the granting of independence to many of its imperial possessions.

March 3 – Elvis returns to US after 2 years draft duty.

March 21 – Sharpeville Massacre – 69 killed and 180 injured when police fire on a large crowd. The event was a catalyst in the move from passive to active resistance against the white minority government.

April 4Ben Hur, starring Charlton Heston, wins a record haul of Oscars (11, not equalled until Titanic in 1997).

April 17 – Eddie Cochran killed in a motor accident near Chippenham, Wiltshire whilst on a British tour. A hugely influential figure, he was only 21.

April 18 – A crowd of 100,000 assembles in Trafalgar Square for a CND rally.

April 27 – The first performance of Harold Pinter’s play ‘The Caretaker’, at The Arts Theatre, London, starring Donald Pleasance and Alan Bates.

May 6 – Wedding of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones. July – ‘Apache’, by The Shadows is released.

August 6 – Cuba nationalises all foreign and American holdings in the country.

August 10 – ‘Beyond the Fringe’ satirical revue debuts at Edinburgh Festival, starring Alan Bennett, Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller.

September 15 – The first traffic wardens are deployed in London.

SeptemberSituation exhibition opens at RBA Gallery, London.

October 30 – The first successful kidney transplant in the UK takes place at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

November 2 – Penguin Books found not guilty of obscenity in the ‘Lady Chatterley’ trial, a verdict that helped to liberalise publishing in Britain.

November 8 – John F. Kennedy elected 35th President of the United States, beating his rival Richard Nixon in an extremely close-run vote.

December 9 – First episode of Coronation Street broadcast.

December 31 – The farthing ceases to be legal tender in the UK.

December 31 – National Service ends in the UK.

FILMS

The League of Gentlemen – April 1960 – Director: Basil Dearden. Stars: Jack Hawkins, Nigel Patrick, Roger Livesey, Richard Attenborough. Jack Hawkins heads up a group of ex-army men who, feeling cast off and unwanted by society, plot and execute a bank raid with military precision. The characters offer a very interesting insight into the way society was changing and the way middle-aged men who had been born into the end of empire and a very stratified society coped with the fluidity of the new times.

Peeping Tom – May 1960 – Director: Michael Powell. Stars: Karlheinz Böhm, Anna Massey, Moira Shearer. Powell’s film of a voyeuristic serial killer was incredibly harshly judged by critics of the time, effectively ruining his career, yet the treatment of the subject has come to be seen as a powerful statement from a time when such subject matter was scarcely touched in British film.

The Entertainer – July 1960 – Director:Tony Richardson. Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Roger Livesey. Olivier plays Archie Rice, a third-rate music-hall performer whose life and family are falling apart. Set against the backdrop of the Suez crisis, the declining music hall world and the shift towards different and perhaps less communal entertainments, Archie tries to juggle his personal life, affairs, career and relations with little success and is a fine performance from Olivier.

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning – November 1960 – Director: Karel Reisz. Stars: Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field, Rachel Roberts. Finney’s depiction of Arthur Seaton, a belligerent young man was a ground-breaking presentation of working class life and the escape from weekday drudgery through drinking, affairs and the reluctance to be told what to do.

 

1961

January 20 The Rebel, a film starring Tony Hancock, is released.

January 7 – The first episode of The Avengers is aired on ITV. Starring Patrick Macnee as John Steed, its high-action, rather camp formula was notable for its presentation of strong female figures such as Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman) and later Emma Peel (Diana Rigg). It was hugely popular across all generations.

February 9 – The Beatles perform for the first time at The Cavern Club, Liverpool.

March 6 – Death of George Formby.

March 14 – A Jaguar E-Type is driven overnight from Coventry to Geneva to ensure the car is present at its public launch the following morning at the Geneva Motor Show.

March 15 – South Africa withdraws from The Commonwealth.

April 12 – Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human in space, orbiting the earth once in his ship, Vostok 1. The competition between America and Russia for supremacy in ‘the space race’ intensifies.

April 17 – Bay of Pigs Offensive begins, with the CIA backing a Cuban counter-revolutionary force. It fails.

May 8 – George Blake, revealed as a Russian double agent within MI6, is sentenced to 42 years for spying.

June 4 – J.F.K and Nikita Krushchev meet in Vienna. Discussions are dominated by the future of Berlin and East Germany.

June 29 – ‘Runaway’ by Del Shannon goes to No.1 in the British charts. It would become the best-selling single of the year.

August 10 – Britain applies for membership of the EEC.

August 13 – Construction of Berlin Wall begins, cutting the city in two with a heavily guarded and armed boundary.

August 17New London Situation exhibition opens at Marlborough New London Gallery.

September 18 – Dag Hammarskold, Secretary-General of the United Nations, is killed in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia.

October 18 – The film of West Side Story is released. Incredibly popular, it would win 10 Oscars, the most ever won by a musical.

October 25 – The first edition of satirical magazine Private Eye published in London.

November 10 – Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch 22’ is published. Its subversion of bureaucracy and authority makes it a huge success and it has never been out of print.

November 18 – President Kennedy sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.

December 15 – Adolf Eichmann sentenced to death for his role in the Holocaust. Having escaped to Argentina after WWII, he was captured and smuggled out of Argentina by Mossad agents and taken to Israel for trial.

FILMS

The Rebel –March 1961 – Director: Robert Day. Stars: Tony Hancock, George Sanders, Paul Massie. Hancock’s masterly lampooning of the pretentions of artists and the art world developed well to film from his more familiar persona on the small screen. His portrayal of the talentless would-be artist is a marvellous piece of tongue-in-cheek mockery.

Victim – August 1961 – Director: Basil Dearden. Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms, Dennis Price. To make a film dealing with homosexuality, and especially the potential for blackmail and scandal, in early 60s Britain was a brave move, especially considering it would not be until 1967 for it to be decriminalised. Bogarde’s character, a married barrister but with a gay past, takes on the prejudices of the time with admirable conviction.

A Taste of Honey – September 1961 – Director: Tony Richardson. Stars: Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan, Robert Stephens. The film that really launched Rita Tushingham’s career, A Taste of Honey followed a young girl who meets and becomes pregnant by a black sailor, her uneven relationship with her mother, and her friendship with a gay man. All topics guaranteed to raise eyebrows in early 60s Britain, it was very much part of the body of social realist film that marks this period.

The Young Ones – December 1961 – Director: Sidney J. Furie. Stars: Cliff Richard, Robert Morley, Carole Gray. A jaunty bit of fluff centred round the efforts of the members of a youth club to save their building from the clutches of a millionaire property developer. Naturally they do, and it’s all go for Cliff and his chums to belt out lots of the kind of songs that made him the biggest thing on the British music scene until the arrival of The Beatles which is probably why it was the second most popular film of the year in Britain after The Guns of Navarone.

 

1962

January 1 – The Beatles audition for Decca Records. Dick Rowe, from Decca, later tells the band’s manager Brian Epstein, ‘Groups of guitars are on the way out’.

January 11 – Cliff Richard and The Shadows release ‘The Young Ones’, the title track from the film of the same name. It goes straight to No.1 in the charts. 

February 4 – The first Sunday Times colour supplement is produced. Focussing on style, design and fashion, it would be a crucial taste-maker throughout the decade.

February 21 – Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev dance together for the first time, in a Royal Ballet production of Giselle.

March 25 – Ken Russell’s short film, ‘Pop Goes the Easel’, broadcast on BBC TV, featuring artists Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips.

April 4 – James Hanratty hanged for ‘A6 Murder’. The  public clamour that Hanratty was not guilty contributed to the move towards the abolition of the death penalty. 

May 26 – ‘Stranger on The Shore’ by Acker Bilk becomes  the first British recording to reach number one in the US  Billboard Hot 100.

June 2 – Britain’s first legal casino opens in Brighton. 

July – The Rolling Stones play their first gig, at The  Marquee Club, London. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts  would join shortly after.

July 5 – Algeria gains independence from France.

April 4 – James Hanratty hanged for ‘A6 Murder’. The  public clamour that Hanratty was not guilty contributed to the move towards the abolition of the death penalty. 

May 26 – ‘Stranger on The Shore’ by Acker Bilk becomes  the first British recording to reach number one in the US  Billboard Hot 100.

June 2 – Britain’s first legal casino opens in Brighton. 

July – The Rolling Stones play their first gig, at The  Marquee Club, London. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts  would join shortly after.

July 5 – Algeria gains independence from France.

July 10 – ‘Telstar’ satellite launched into orbit and begins  transmitting the next day.

July 13 – ‘The Night of the Long Knives’ – Prime Minister  Harold Macmillan replaces 1/3rd of his cabinet.

July 26 – ‘I Remember You’ by Frank Ifield tops the  British charts.

August – Robert Fraser Gallery opens at 66, Duke Street,  London.

August 5 – Marilyn Monroe found dead.

August 16 – Pete Best, drummer of The Beatles, is fired  and replaced by Ringo Starr.

October 4 – ‘Telstar’, by The Tornadoes, goes to No.1 in  the British charts.

October 5 – Dr.No premieres in UK cinemas. It launches  James Bond as one of the most enduring characters in film.

October 5 – ‘Love Me Do’ released in UK.

October 14 – Cuban Missile Crisis begins, the ensuing USA/USSR stand-off threatening the world with nuclear war.

November 6 – UN General Assembly condemnation of the racist ‘apartheid’ policies of South Africa.

November 24 – Satirical current affairs programme ‘That Was The Week That Was’ launches on BBC TV.

November 29 – Britain and France sign the agreement to  build the Concorde supersonic airliner.

December 10 – ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ premieres in London.

December 13 – ‘Return to Sender’ by Elvis Presley goes  to No.1 in the British charts.

December – A group of friends from Manchester play a  gig under their new name, The Hollies.

December – Anthony Burgess’ novel ‘A Clockwork  Orange’ is published.

FILMS

A Kind of Loving – April 1962 - Director: John  Schlesinger. Stars: Alan Bates, June Ritchie, Thora Hird.  A number of films around this time investigated the domestic situations that were a long way from the ideal. Bates and Ritchie’s characters work together, sleep together, find out she is pregnant, get engaged and move in with her domineering mother. Not exactly a recipe for harmony, they eventually find a compromise, ‘a kind of loving’, which was in fact, at that time, a brave statement of acknowledging the realities of life.

Dr No – October 1962 – Director: Terence Young. Stars: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Bernard Lee.The start of a legend. Adapted from Ian Fleming’s books, Bond’s film persona as the ultra-spy would become ever more fanciful in later outings, but in these early presentations the suave and manly portrayal by Sean Connery still has a foot in the real world.

The L–Shaped Room – November 1962 – Director: Bryan Forbes. Stars: Leslie Caron, Anthony Booth.Illegitimacy was still a touchy subject in the early 60s, so when Leslie Caron’s character moves alone and pregnant into a London boarding house, her position is immediately clear. The film charts her relationship with fellow lodgers, and touches on contentious issues such as abortion and living outside the perceived norms. 

The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner – September 1962 – Director: Tony Richardson. Stars: Tom Courtenay, Michael Redgrave, James Fox. A beautiful early performance from Tom Courtney as Colin Smith, a young man fighting his home life and poor prospects but is drawn to petty crimeand the brutality of the borstal system. 

Lawrence of Arabia – December 1962 – Director: David Lean. Stars: Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn. Lean’s sweeping epic telling the story of the mercurial Lawrence was an enormous success at the time and has come to be seen as a hugely influential landmark in British cinema. It also provided a very  effective launch pad for the career of Peter O’Toole.

 

1963

January 14 – ‘The Flying Scotsman’ makes its last  scheduled run.

January 18 – Labour Party leader Hugh Gaitskell dies unexpectedly and is replaced by Harold Wilson.

January 29 – Charles de Gaulle, President of France, vetoes the entry of UK to the EEC.

February 11 – The Beatles record their first album, ‘Please, Please Me’, in a single day at Abbey Road Studios.

February 11 – Sylvia Plath, poet and wife of fellow poet Ted Hughes, commits suicide.

March 27 – Release of Dr Richard Beeching’s report, ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, soon to be known colloquially as ‘The Beeching Axe’. The outcome of Beeching’s reforms slashes Britain’s public transport capacity and helps to shift the emphasis on to road traffic.

April 8Lawrence of Arabia wins Oscar for Best Picture.

April 18 – Kasmin Ltd. opens with an exhibition of the work of Kenneth Noland.

May 2 – ‘From Me To You’ becomes the first No.1 by The Beatles.

May 23 – Fidel Castro visits the Soviet Union.

May 27The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan released in US.

June 1British Painting in the Sixties exhibition opens at Tate and Whitechapel Galleries.

June 4 – John Profumo, Secretary of State for war, admits lying to the House of Commons, resigning the following day. ‘The Profumo Affair’ would become a major landmark of perceived sleaze and unprincipled goings-on amongst the privileged classes, as well as offering a major example of the influence of the Press on public opinion.

June 11 – Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc commits suicide by self-immolation in Saigon. Pictures of his act quickly appear in newspapers worldwide.

June 12 – ‘Cleopatra’, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison released in USA, its UK release coming on July 31.

June 26 – President John F. Kennedy gives his ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech in West Berlin.

July 30 – Soviet newspapers reveal that British spy Kim Philby has been given asylum in Moscow.

August 8 – ‘Sweets for my Sweet’ by The Searchers goes to No.1 in the British charts.

August 8 – ‘The Great Train Robbery’ takes place in Buckinghamshire. £2.6 million pounds is stolen (approximately £45,000,000 at today’s values). 

August 28 – Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his ‘I have a dream’ speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington.

September 25 – Lord Denning’s report into the Profumo Affair published. It was a surprising best-seller, with over 4,000 copies sold in the first hour.

October 10From Russia With Love opens in UK.

October 18 – Harold Macmillan resigns as Prime Minister, to be replaced by Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

October 31 – ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers hits No.1 in the British charts.

November 18 – The Dartford Tunnel opens, connecting the north and south banks of the Thames Estuary.

November 22 – John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

November 23 – First episode of ‘Dr Who’ shown on BBC TV.

November 24 – Lee Harvey Oswald, suspected killer of President Kennedy, is assassinated by Jack Ruby live on US television.

 

FILMS

This Sporting Life – January 1963 – Director: Lindsay Anderson. Stars: Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts.Set in the rough world of professional Rugby League in the north, Frank Machin (Harris) falls for his landlady, a widow who has her own emotional problems. The film still appears shockingly brutal, both physically and emotionally, so its impact must have been intense on release. Modern audiences will find Machin hard to sympathise with, but the intensity of the performances still impress.

Summer Holiday – 18 February 1963 – Director: Peter Yates. Stars: Cliff Richard, Lauri Peters, Melvyn Hayes.Cliff and friends’ semi-innocent musical romp seemed to capture the mood of the times, perhaps reflecting the growing enthusiasm for the cheap package tour to the sun. However,few of Cliff’s audience would have made their journey by a red Routemaster bus!

Billy Liar – June 1963 – Director: John Schlesinger.Stars: Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie, Wilfred Pickles.Billy is a young man in a boring and lowly clerical job in a northern town. He yearns for escape to London and a career as a script writer, but his only form of escape is conjuring up marvellous fantasies for himself and stringing along his girlfriends.

Cleopatra – 31 July 1963 – Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison. One of the most expensive films ever made in real terms, Cleopatra had mixed reviews but was loved by the public, with huge crowds flocking to see it. The on-screen chemistry between Burton and Taylor sizzled and the incredible production values made this sword and sandals epic a benchmark of a blockbuster.

 Tom Jones – September 1963 – Director: Tony Richardson. Stars: Albert Finney, Susannah York, Edith Evans. The adaptation of Fielding’s novel of mideighteenth century hijinks was a big hit with audiences, and included some innovative techniques, such as characters addressing the viewer directly.

From Russia With Love – 11 October 1963 – Director: Terence Young. Stars: Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya. Connery was really getting into his stride here, and the elements are all falling into place – exotic locations, girls, shadowy super-villains, and in Ali Kerim Bey one of the best Bond sidekicks. Robert Shaw is suitably cold and calculating, and Lenya’s portrayal of the distinctly lesbian Rosa Klebb feels rather daring for the time, if perhaps a rather heavy-handed caricature. 

The Servant – November 1963 – Director: Joseph Losey. Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig, James Fox. Undermining and subverting the social structure is a theme in many films of the period and here the uneasy and manipulative relationship between Bogarde’s manservant and Fox’s employer allows for themes of power, servitude, class and snobbery to be masterfully developed. You clearly just can’t get the staff any more…

 

1964

January 1 – The first episode of Top of the Pops is broadcast on BBC TV. Initially intended to have a short run, it eventually ended after 42 years.

January 16 – ‘Glad All Over’ by The Dave Clark Five goes to No.1 in the British charts. 1964 would mark the point where the domination of the British music scene by American acts would end, with only Roy Orbison and The Supremes the only non-British outfits to hit the top spot through the year.

February 4 – The Beatles’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ goes to No.1 in the US charts.

February 7 – The Beatles arrive at JFK Airport to begin an American tour, heralding the start of global ‘Beatlemania’.

February 19 – Peter Sellers marries Britt Ekland, just 10 days after their first meeting.

February 25 – Muhammad Ali beats Sonny Liston to become world boxing Heavyweight Champion.

March 15 – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton marry in Montreal.

March 29 – Radio Caroline becomes Britain’s first pirate radio station, broadcasting from just outside British waters

April 16 – The Rolling Stones release their first album, The Rolling Stones.

April 20 – BBC2 starts broadcasting, concentrating on programmes covering more specialist interests.

May 11 – Terence Conran opens the first Habitat store.

May 18 – Mods and Rockers clash at Margate. Other seaside towns would also see such activity. Although much covered by the Press with suitably sensationalist headlines, serious injuries were few, but the general sense of ‘youth gone wild’ was very much of the moment.

June 12 – Nelson Mandela and seven others sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa.

July 2 – President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, abolishing racial segregation in the USA.

July 9 – ‘House of the Rising Sun’ by The Animals goes to No.1 in the British charts.

August 12 – Death of Ian Fleming.

September – Barbara Hulanicki opens her first ‘Biba’ store in Kensington.

September 4 – The Forth Road Bridge opens. At the time of its construction it was the longest suspension bridge in the world outside the United States.

September 17Goldfinger opens in London.

October 2 – The Kinks release their first album, The Kinks.

October 14 – Nikita Krushchev deposed as leader of the USSR.

October 15 – Harold Wilson’s Labour Party win the parliamentary elections in UK.

October 21 – The film of My Fair Lady is premiered in New York.

November 9 – The House of Commons votes to abolish the death penalty in Britain.

December 3 – ‘Little Red Rooster’ by The Rolling Stones goes to No.1 in the British charts.

FILMS

Zulu – January 1964 – Director: Cy Endfield. Stars: Michael Caine, Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson. As the Empire was disappearing and many felt Britain’s position as a significant power was slipping, so the past became a topic often treated in film. Based loosely on the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, the film is both a ‘Boy’s Own’ fantasy of heroism as well as raising some uncomfortable questions about the Victorian relationship with the indigenous peoples of its Empire. It might also be worth wondering if it is entirely coincidental that the fashion for Victoriana and particularly militaria seems to start around now.

Séance on a Wet Afternoon – June 1964 – Director: Bryan Forbes. Stars: Kim Stanley, Richard Attenborough, Margaret Lacey. A chilling and disturbing film, Attenborough plays a dominated husband who assists in his wife’s scheme to kidnap a child and then use her ‘skills’ as a medium to assist in the return once the ransom has been paid. However she becomes increasingly unhinged and instructs Attenborough to kill the child. 

A Hard Day’s Night – July 1964 – Director: Richard Lester. Stars: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. Most films starring pop stars tended to be wooden vehicles for exploiting passing popularity, but Dick Lester’s vigorous picture managed to escape the clichés and successfully secured the popular image of The Beatles and their individual personas. It had a few good tunes too.

Dr. Strangelove – August 1964 – Director: Stanley Kubrick. Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens. The prospect of accidental nuclear holocaust might not be the best premise for a comedy, but Dr. Strangelove managed it marvellously. Sellers on top form playing the US President, a British RAF officer and the mad Dr. Strangelove ties the film together, and the combination of humour, fatalism, satire and Kubrick’s superb visual styling make this one element of the Cold War that’s still good to have around.

Goldfinger – September 1964 – Director: Guy Hamilton. Stars: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman. Connery is really getting into his stride as the ultra-smooth Bond, and Goldfinger remains for many the archetypal Bond film. Girls, gadgets, cars, villains and gold – what more could a 60s audience want? 

Carry on Cleo – November 1964 – Director: Gerald Thomas. Stars: Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Kenneth Connor. The Carry On! team take on the leviathan of Taylor and Burton’s Cleopatra with aplomb, creating one of the best outings from this peculiarly British outfit. Sid James as Mark Anthony shouldn’t really work, but it just does. 

 

1965

January 24 – Death of Sir Winston Churchill. 

January 30 – State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.

February 6London: The New Scene exhibition opens at The Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis.

February 21 – Assassination of Malcolm X in New York.

April 23 – The Pennine Way walk officially opens.

May 31 – British racing driver Jim Clark wins the Indianapolis 500, and goes on to win the Formula One championship later this year.

June 11 – ‘International Poetry Incarnation’ held at The Albert Hall.

July 25 – Bob Dylan ‘goes electric’ at the Newport. Folk Festival. Dylan’s influence on the emerging British folk scene was strong, and his decision to start using electric instruments split opinions, but ultimately paved the way for the emergence of bands such as Fairport Convention later in the decade.

August 1 – Cigarette advertising is banned on British television.

August 15 – The Beatles play Shea Stadium.

September 30 Thunderbirds debuts on ITV.

October 7 – Ian Brady arrested and charged with murder. Myra Hindley charged on October 11.

October 8 – The Post Office Tower opened in London. On completion it was the tallest building in Britain. It featured a revolving restaurant, ‘The Top of the Tower’, run by holiday camp magnate Billy Butlin, and which made a complete revolution once every 22 minutes. Until 1993, the building was officially ‘secret’ and thus did not appear on Ordinance Survey maps.

October 24 – Harold Wilson travels to Rhodesia. British policy was that independence would not be granted to imperial colonies unless there was an established majority rule. The white minority government of Rhodesia had no intention of doing this, and Wilson’s visit was intended to enforce the British position.

November – David Bailey’s Box of Pin-Ups published.

November 8 – BBC TV withdraws ‘The War Game’, a fictional documentary about the effects of nuclear war in Britain.

November 11 – Rhodesia declares itself independent of Britain, completely ignoring British and international entreaties. 

November 13 – Kenneth Tynan becomes the first person to say ‘fuck’ on British television.

November 25 – Indica Gallery opens at 6, Mason’s Yard, St. James’s. Run by John Dunbar, Barry Miles and Peter Asher, it was also supported by Paul McCartney and was to become perhaps the leading avant-garde gallery in London at this time.

December 3 – The Beatles release Rubber Soul.

December 8 – Introduction in Britain of the Race Relations Act.

December 22 – The 70mph speed limit is introduced on British roads.

FILMS

The Sound of Music – March 1965 – Director: Robert Wise. Stars: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker. Hugely popular even now, this film of Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical tale of the Von Trapp family has the feel-good optimism that many just can’t get enough of, and as the soundtrack album became the biggest selling album in Britain during the 60s, it seems they wanted to keep the magic alive at home too.

The Ipcress File – March 1965 – Director: Sidney J. Furie. Stars: Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Guy Doleman.Caine’s Harry Palmer is the complete antithesis of Bond – subordinate, cultured and ingrained into the grubby reality of espionage, and this tale of kidnapping and doublecross still holds up remarkably well, mostly due to Caine’s great presence. The innovative cinematography gives it a feel entirely of its own, and which now seems very much a forerunner of the gritty films of the next decade.

Dr Zhivago – April 1965 – Director: David Lean. Stars: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin.Like his Lawrence of Arabia, Lean’s ability to draw a wide and complex narrative into a compulsive drama makes this film a compelling voyage through the tribulations of Russian history in the period of the Revolution and after. It also stars Sharif and Christie at the zenith of their youthful promise.

The Knack… and How to Get it – June 1965 – Director: Richard Lester. Stars: Rita Tushingham, Ray Brooks, Michael Crawford. Very much a ‘Swinging London’ film, and complete with John Barry soundtrack, the film now looks rather dated in its attitudes of the three male characters to the female lead. However, this in itself is quite informative, and Dick Lester’s use of direct address, humorous subtitles and other unusual techniques give the whole thing a very definite period feel. It also featured the film debuts of Charlotte Rampling, Jacqueline Bisset and Jane Birkin, all as extras! 

Help! – July 1965 – Director: Richard Lester.Stars: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. The success of A Hard Day’s Night probably made the expectations for Help! rather too high, and whilst it features a good supporting cast and some fun moments, it somehow never hits the bullseye. However, Lester still creates some wonderful images, the band play some great songs and there are definitely surreal elements that would resurface in their own Magical Mystery Tour in 1967. 

Darling – September 1965 – Director: John Schlesinger. Stars: Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey. The freedom with which Christie’s character casts off lovers as she moves up the social ladder but loses real happiness marked a real shift in the portrayal of women in film of the time. 

The Collector – November 1965 – Director: William Wyler. Stars: Terence Stamp, Samantha Eggar, Mona Washbourne. Stamp was perhaps the most glamorous young British actor of his generation, and in this dark story of a disturbed young man unable to build a normal relationship without coercion, we see a performance of chilling power.

Thunderball – December 1965 – Director: Terence Young. Stars: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi. The Bond juggernaut was really gaining speed by this fourth instalment, and the public response made it the highest grossing of the series so far. Stylish and featuring lots of nifty underwater action, as well as a belting title tune sung by Tom Jones, it still has a lot going for it.

 

1966

January 19 – Indira Ghandi elected Prime Minister of India.

January 31 – Britain institutes a total trade embargo of Rhodesia.

February 23The Daily Express publishes the first photographs of Leslie Hornby and announces her ‘The Face of ‘66’. She would become better known as Twiggy.

March 4 – In an Evening Standard interview, John Lennon notes that The Beatles are ‘more popular than Jesus now’. Ignored at the time in Britain, the quote resurfaced months later in the USA out of context and caused huge controversy.

March 9 – Ronnie Kray murders George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub. He will be convicted for this crime in 1969.

March 20 – The Jules Rimet Trophy, the World Cup, is stolen from an exhibition in London. It is later found under a hedge in South Norwood by a dog, Pickles.

March 31 – Harold Wilson’s Labour Party wins the General Election with a 96 seat majority.

April 11 – The Marquess of Bath opens Longleat Safari Park at his ancestral home. 

April 15 – Time magazine publishes their ‘Swinging London’ edition.

April 21 – Myra Hindley and Ian Brady go on trial at Chester Crown Court for the murder of three children, soon to be known as ‘The Moors Murders’.

April 28 – ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ by Dusty Springfield goes to No.1 in the British charts.

April 30 – The regular cross-channel Hovercraft service between England and France begins.

May 16 – The Communist Party of China issues the ‘May 16 Notice’, marking the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

May 16 – Two legendary albums are released in the USA, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, and Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan.

May 26 – ‘Paint it Black’ by The Rolling Stones goes to No.1 in the British charts.

July 11 – The FIFA World Cup starts in Britain, initially to a relatively low level of public interest.

July 30 – England beat Germany 4-2 after extra time in the final of the World Cup. Public interest rather higher now!

August 5 – The Beatles’ Revolver is released.

August 29 – The Beatles play Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It will be their last ever formal public concert.

September 15 – HMS Resolution, Britain’s first Polaris submarine, is launched.

September 16 – The Metropolitan Opera House opens at the Lincoln Center in New York.

September 24 – Jimi Hendrix jams with other musicians at ‘The Scotch of St. James’ club, his first performance in Britain.

October 14 – The underground newspaper International Times is launched with a gig featuring Pink Floyd and Soft Machine at The Roundhouse, in Chalk Farm. 

October 21 – The Aberfan Pit Disaster.

October 22 – George Blake, convicted spy, escapes from HMP Wormwood Scrubs, and is next seen in Moscow.

October 29 – The first ever regeneration of Doctor Who, as William Hartnell is succeeded by Patrick Troughton.

November 4 – The River Arno floods in Florence, leading to huge damage to the architecture and works of art in the city.

November 28 – Truman Capote hosts The Black and White Ball in New York, often known as ‘The Party of the Century’. 

FILMS

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – January 1966 – Director: Martin Ritt. Stars: Richard Burton, Oskar Werner, Claire Bloom. Burton won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Alec Leamas, a British agent who appears to be turned by the Communists yet this is in fact a carefully staged deception. Shot in black and white, it has an authentic austere Cold War feel, and like the Harry Palmer films, offers a sobering alternative to Bond.

Blow Up – January 1966 – Director: Michelangelo Antonioni. Stars: David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Peter Bowles. Antonioni wanted to get a real feel of mid-60s London, and with Hemmings behind the lens as the Bailey-esque photographer who may or may not have witnessed a murder, we get a film that swings from hyperactivity to the disconnected coming-down of a dawn the morning after.

Funeral in Berlin – February 1966 – Director: Guy Hamilton. Stars: Michael Caine, Oskar Homolka, Paul Hubschmid. Keeping up the gritty feeling of The Ipcress File, Harry Palmer becomes involved with smuggling a high level Russian general across the Berlin Wall. Full of double-cross among the agents of the different nations, Michael Caine is excellent. 

Alfie – March 1966 – Director: Lewis Gilbert.Stars: Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin.Another great performance from Caine, placing him firmly at the head of the generation of young British film actors of the decade. The amoral Alfie passes through the lives of the women of the film in variously destructive ways, and starts to show the rotten underside of the ‘birds and geezers’ image of the mid-60s. Superb soundtrack by Sonny Rollins too.

A Man For All Seasons – December 1966 – Director: Fred Zinnemann. Stars: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw. Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture in 1966 (as well as five others), this film centred around the life of Sir Thomas More, who clashed with HenryVIII over his divorce and split with Rome in early 16th Century England. More is portrayed as a tragic hero, fighting political expedience with the strength of his conscience. Schofield and Shaw turn in marvellous performances in the leading roles.

1967

January 18 – Jeremy Thorpe becomes leader of the Liberal Party.

January 23 – Milton Keynes is founded. Although there were new towns built during the 1950s, Milton Keynes was seen as ‘the birth of a new city’. Built around a loose grid system, it came to typify urban planning in the period, and has proved a more successful venture than some contemporary projects .

February 12 – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Robert Fraser arrested at Richards’ country house for drug possession. The local police were almost certainly tipped-off by sources from the News of The World

March 1 – Queen Elizabeth Hall opened in London.

March 18 – The oil tanker Torrey Canyon runs aground off the Cornish coast with a cargo of 120,000 tonnes of crude oil. The world’s first supertanker disaster, no-one really knew how to deal with it and various methods were tried, including setting the oil on fire, and bombing the wreck.

April 8 – Sandie Shaw wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Britain with ‘Puppet on a String’.

April 28 – Muhammad Ali refuses his U.S. military service draft.

April 29 – ‘14 Hour Technicolour Dream’ event held at Alexandra Palace.

May 1 – Elvis and Priscilla Presley marry in Las Vegas.

June 1 – Release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles. Once again the band used their amazing ability to pick up on the seismic vibrations of emerging trends and turn them into something special. The album became almost the shorthand definition of the new ‘psychedelic’ style and those that remember the summer of ’67 often recall it as the soundtrack to those months.

June 8 – ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procul Harem goes to No.1 in the British charts. Although they would never match the success of this debut record, it has taken on iconic status as a record that reflects its time.

June 27 – The world’s first cash machine is installed in Barclay’s Bank, Enfield.

July 1 – BBC2 begins colour TV broadcasts with coverage of Wimbledon.

July 4 – British Government decriminalizes homosexuality.

August 5 – Pink Floyd release their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

August 9 – Joe Orton murdered by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell.

August 15 – Offshore radio broadcasting made illegal in Britain. Radio Caroline defies the ban and continues broadcasts.

August 27 – Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles, found dead. 

September 30 – The BBC launches its new radio stations, Radios 1,2,3 & 4.

November 18 – Devaluation of the pound.

December 7 – Apple Shop opens in Baker Street, London.

December 11 – Concorde, the world’s first supersonic airliner, is unveiled in France.

December 26 – The Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour, is premiered on BBC TV.

FILMS

Casino Royale – April 1967 – Directors: Val Guest, Ken Hughes, 3 more credits. Stars: David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Ursula Andress. Bond only in title, this starstudded cast romp through a frankly silly escapade that is totally of its time. 

You Only Live Twice – June 1967 – Director: Lewis Gilbert. Stars: Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama. Mostly set in the Japan and its seas, this was the last of Sean Connery’s first clutch of Bonds, and involves some rather splendid set-pieces, including the massed ninjas abseiling into the crater of a fake volcano. It also seems to be the film that finally makes it clear that large groups of evil henchmen will always wear coloured jumpsuits. 

To Sir, With Love – October 1967 – Director: James Clavell. Stars: Sidney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts. Racism was a significant issue in late 60s Britain and thus Poitier’s portrayal of a black teacher battling wills with his pupils in a tough East End school had a topical resonance. Of course sense and moderation win out, but there are plenty of moments that remind one how educational techniques have changed! 

Far from the Madding Crowd – October 1967 – Director: John Schlesinger. Stars: Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates. The hunger for historical settings for films grew towards the end of the decade and adaptations of Hardy, Lawrence, and others pulled the crowds. Hardy’s tale of love and rival suitors provided another great vehicle for Christie, Stamp and Bates.

Poor Cow – December 1967 – Director: Ken Loach. Stars: Terence Stamp, Carol White, John Bindon.Ken Loach’s first feature film follows Carol White as Joy from an unwise early marriage and child through various problem relationships and dead-end jobs in a spiral of poor choices.

Bedazzled – December 1967 – Director: Stanley Donen. Stars: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Welch. Loosely translating the Faust legend to 60s London, Peter Cook is a marvellously sardonic Devil, offers Moore seven wishes in return for his soul and then deliberately skews his interpretations to create some great moments.

 

1968

January 5 – Election of reformist Alexander Dubcek as leader of Czechoslovakia, heralding the hopes of a more liberal regime in the countries under Soviet influence.

January 5 – First episode of Gardeners’ World on BBCTV.

March 15 – George Brown resigns as Foreign Secretary. 

April 4 – Martin Luther King Jr. shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee.

April 7 – Jim Clark killed in a motor race at Hockenheim, Germany.

April 20 – Conservative MP Enoch Powell makes what would become known as the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham. Touching on the potential for future unrest in the light of large-scale immigration into Britain, the speech effectively ended Powell’s mainstream political career, but actually seemed to carry a great deal of support from the public at large.

April 27 – The Abortion Act 1967 comes into force.

May 13 – Student riots break out in Paris.

May 14 – At a press conference in New York, The Beatles announce the creation of Apple records.

May 16 – Ronan Point disaster, four people are killed when part of the tower block collapses. It was to mark a shift in public attitudes towards the construction of high-rise public housing.

May 29 – Manchester United become the first English football team to win the European Cup.

June 5 – Robert F. Kennedy, brother of John F. Kennedy is shot. He died from his wounds the following day.

July 9 – Hayward Gallery opens as a new large-scale public exhibition space in London.

July 30 – Thames Television begins transmission to the London area.

August 11 – The last steam passenger train services are run by British Rail.

August 14 – ‘Fire’ by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown goes to No.1 in the British charts. 

August 20 – Almost 750,000 Warsaw Pact troops move into Czechoslovakia, ending the ‘Prague Spring’ of political liberalization.

September 17 – The MCC cricket tour of South Africa is cancelled when the South Africans refuse to accept the inclusion of Basil D’Oliveira in the team. 

September 25 – ‘Those Were The Days My Friends’ by Mary Hopkins goes to No.1 in the British charts.

October 5 – Unrest and demonstrations in Derry, Northern Ireland, marks the beginning of what would become known as ‘The Troubles’.

October 27 – Anti-Vietnam war demonstration in Grosvenor Square.

November 5 – Richard Nixon wins the U.S. presidential election.

FILMS

2001: Space Odyssey – May 1968 – Director: Stanley Kubrick. Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester. Long, complex and received with an element of puzzlement at the time, the scope of this film and its unusual technical approach have come to be seen as hugely influential, and of course its tale of a powerful computer turning malignant perhaps now carries an even greater resonance. 

The Charge of the Light Brigade – April 1968 – Director: Tony Richardson. Stars: Trevor Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud. A fantastic cast, both young and old, unfold the story of a military blunder that is still a byword for inflexibility and futility. So much social history of the sixties is concerned with the shift from old order to the new, especially in the wake of Profumo and the fall of Macmillan that is it is hard not to see at least a sense of critique here. 

Performance – 1968 British crime drama film – August 1970 – Director: Donald Cammell/Nicholas Roeg.Stars: James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg.Although not released until 1970, Performance is a film that possibly epitomises the combination of criminals, rough glamour and drugs that was London in 1968 for some. Fox makes a chillingly realistic gangster, Jagger plays a reclusive rock star like he never wants to leave character, and the unwinding personalities of the protagonists give this film a very sharp edge.

Oliver! – September 1968 – Director: Carol Reed Stars: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed. Already a hit musical, the film version allowed Ron Moody to reprise his wonderful Fagin, and with Oliver Reed memorable as the violent ruffian Bill Sykes and a host of sing-along numbers, Oliver! picks up the baton from The Sound of Music

Carry on up the Khyber – November 1968 – Director: Gerald Thomas. Stars: Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey. Carry On in the 60s managed to successfully pick up on the same themes that mainstream cinema was exploring, so if Carry On Cleo lampooned Cleopatra, Carry On Up The Khyber was taking on the Victorian Empire exploits of films like Zulu and The Charge of The Light Brigade. The usual doses of innuendo and slapstick still work in that cheeky seaside postcard way.

If… – December 1968 – Director: Lindsay Anderson.Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan. Set within the confines and protocols of an English public school, the film investigates the barbaric and archaic practices in the context of the changing world outside the school, leading to a denouement that every schoolboy wishes he’d thought of.

Where Eagles Dare – December 1968 – Director: Brian G. Hutton. Stars: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure. The urge for filmmakers to rework the then relatively recent events of WWII became more frequent in the late 60s and this is a classic of its time.

 

1969

January 2 – Rupert Murdoch purchases the News of the World.

January 8 – ‘Lily The Pink’ by The Scaffold goes to No.1 in the British charts. The year would be marked by a number of unusual or catchy singalong records achieving popular success, including ‘Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)’ by Peter Sarstedt, ‘Blackberry Way’ by The Move and ‘Sugar, Sugar’ by The Archies, the biggest selling single of the year.

January 30 – The Beatles play unannounced on the roof of Apple Records, London, their last ever public performance.

March 5 – The Kray Twins are sentenced to a minimum of thirty years in prison for murder.

March 12 – Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman marry in London.

March 20 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono marry in Gibraltar.

April 1 – The Hawker-Siddeley Harrier enters service with the RAF. Like Concorde, the Hovercraft and The Post Office Tower, the decade had seen some extremely fine British engineering innovations.

April 20 – British troops arrive in Northern Ireland. 

May 2 – The maiden voyage of the QEII en route for NewYork.

July 1 – Investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales.

July 3 – Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones drowns in his swimming pool. Somewhat side-lined by the rest of the band as drug use had made him increasingly erratic, Jones was just one of the music stars of the time who found his exposure fame and money a difficult mistress.

July 16 – Apollo 11 lifts off on its mission to the Moon.

July 20 – Neil Armstrong sets foot on the surface of the Moon.

August 14 – British Troops deployed in Derry.

August 15 – Woodstock Festival begins.

October 5 – First episode of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ is broadcast.

December Leige & Leif by Fairport Convention is released. Whilst many bands had experimented with electric instruments and traditional British folk music, Leige & Lief took this further, combining self-penned songs in a folk style with full rock instrumentation and thus heralding the ‘folk-rock’ style that would become so prevalent in the early 70s. 

December 6 – The Rolling Stones host The Altamont Speedway Free Festival. Marred by drugs, violence and the death of Meredith Hunter, it has often been cast by later commentators as marking ‘the end of the sixties’.

 

FILMS

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – 24 February 1969 – Director: Ronald Neame. Stars: Maggie Smith, Gordon Jackson, Robert Stephens. Based on Muriel Spark’s novel, Maggie Smith plays the inspiring and individual Edinburgh schoolmistress of the title, but her success at bringing culture to her charges masks a certain overpowerful influence which can prove damaging, all of which is played against the backdrop of Miss Brodie’s own complicated private life. 

The Italian Job – 2 June 1969 – Director: Peter Collinson. Stars: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill. Blessed with one of the great opening sequences as we ride inside a Lamborghini Miuri along winding Italian roads to the strains of Matt Munro, The Italian Job takes the try-anything spirit of Britain in the 60s and uses it to run a heist under the noses of the Mafia. Launching some oft(and wrongly)-quoted lines that continue to be heard today and featuring a marvellous cameo by Noel Coward, the entertainment value here is still high.

Women in Love – September 1969 – Director: Ken Russell. Stars: Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson.Adapted from D.H.Lawrence’s novel, what some regard as Ken Russell’s best film touches on many issues, especially love and sex amongst the middle and moneyed classes; something that must have struck a note with the audiences who had benefitted from the affluence and social mobility of the sixties. Famous now primarily for the naked wrestling scene between Reed and Bates. 

Battle of Britain – 15 September 1969 – Director: Guy Hamilton. Stars: Lawrence Olivier, Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, Trevor Howard, Christopher Plummer. Patriotism runs riot as this unbelievable cast bring the summer of 1940 back to life. Whilst obviously the exploits and sacrifices of ‘the Few’ loom large, the tactical battle behind the scenes and the human tensions are handled with aplomb.

Kes – November 1969 - Director: Ken Loach.Stars: David Bradley, Brian Glover, Freddie Fletcher.Almost documentary in its treatment of a young boy from a Yorkshire mining community who nurses a kestrel back to health, this simple, moving and pure film still feels incredibly modern.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 18 December 1969 – Director: Peter R. Hunt. Stars: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas. With Sean Connery feeling he wanted to escape from the Bond role, George Lazenby had this single outing as 007. Intended to have a more realistic feel than previous films, the reception was rather mixed, and in spite of the success of the action scenes, many felt it just wasn’t really ‘Bond’ enough. The fact Bond gets married and, mercy, sometimes even looks a little scared still splits opinions.

 

 

 

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