The Mayfair Set

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The Mayfair Set
The Mayfair Set titles.jpg
Title screen
Written byAdam Curtis
Directed byAdam Curtis
Annabel Hobley
Theme music composerJohn Barry (theme from Vendetta, BBC 1966–68)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes4
Executive producerStephen Lambert
ProducersAdam Curtis
Annabel Hobley
CinematographyDavid Barker
Michael Eley
Running time240 mins (in four parts)
Production companyBBC
Original networkBBC Two
Original release18 July (1999-07-18) –
8 August 1999 (1999-08-08)
Preceded byThe Living Dead (1995)
Followed byThe Century of the Self (2002)

The Mayfair Set, subtitled Four Stories about the Rise of Business and the Decline of Political Power, is a BBC television documentary series by filmmaker Adam Curtis. It explores the decline of Britain as a world power, the proliferation of asset stripping in the 1970s, and how buccaneer capitalists helped to shape the climate of the Thatcher years, by focusing on Colonel David Stirling, Jim Slater, Sir James Goldsmith and Tiny Rowland—members of London's elite Clermont Club in the 1960s. It won a BAFTA Award for Best Factual Series or Strand in 2000.[1]

Curtis wanted to engage with the moral ambiguity of figures such as Goldsmith.[2]


Part 1. 'Who Pays Wins'[edit]

The opening episode focuses on Colonel David Stirling and the birth of the global arms trade in the 1960s.

Originally broadcast on 18 July 1999.[3]


Part 2. 'Entrepreneur Spelt S.P.I.V.'[edit]

The rise of accountant, game theorist and asset stripper Jim Slater, who became famous for writing an investment column in The Sunday Telegraph under the nom de plume of The Capitalist.

Originally broadcast on 25 July 1999.[4]


  • Sir Anthony Grant, Conservative MP 1964–97
  • Jim Slater
  • Malcolm Horsman, Executive, Slater Walker 1965–71
  • Andrew Coote, Manager, Cork Manufacturing 1965; son of Colonel Coote
  • Christopher Fildes, financial journalist since 1963
  • Una Mary Parker, Mayfair socialite, 1960s
  • John Aspinall
  • Brian Basham, financial journalist, 1960s
  • Eric Armitage, Chief Accountant, Lonrho 1969–72
  • Tiny Rowland (interviewed 1973)
  • Col. A. J. Aylmer, nephew of General Spears
  • Dr Mathias Mpande, Deputy Minister of Mines, Zambia
  • Terry Smith, City analyst
  • John Bentley, Head of Slater Walker satellite 1970–75 (archive)
  • Sir James Goldsmith (archive)
  • Maj. Colin MacKenzie, member of Lonrho board 1961–73
  • Douglas Hurd, political secretary to Edward Heath 1968–75
  • Capt. Bill Wilming, Tiny Rowland's pilot 1968–91

Part 3. 'Destroy the Technostructure'[edit]

This episode tells the story of how Sir James Goldsmith, through a series of corporate raids, became one of the world's richest men, and a victim of his own success.

Originally broadcast on 1 August 1999.[5]


Part 4. 'Twilight of the Dogs'[edit]

By the late 1980s, the day of the buccaneering tycoon was over. Tiny Rowland, Sir James Goldsmith and Mohamed Al-Fayed were the only ones left.

Originally broadcast on 8 August 1999.[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BAFTA Winners 2000". BAFTA. Archived from the original on 19 October 2004. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Can't Get You Out of My Head w/ Adam Curtis". Red Scare Podcast (Podcast). 16 February 2021.
  3. ^ "The Mayfair Set - BBC Two England - 18 July 1999". BBC Genome. Retrieved 21 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "The Mayfair Set - BBC Two England - 25 July 1999". BBC Genome.
  5. ^ "The Mayfair Set - BBC Two England - 1 August 1999". BBC Genome.
  6. ^ "The Mayfair Set - BBC Two England - 8 August 1999". BBC Genome.

External links[edit]