The Mayfair Set

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The Mayfair Set
The Mayfair Set titles.jpg
Title screen
Written by Adam Curtis
Directed by Adam Curtis
Annabel Hobley
Theme music composer John Barry (theme from Vendetta, BBC 1966–68)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 4
Executive producer(s) Stephen Lambert
Producer(s) Adam Curtis
Annabel Hobley
Cinematography David Barker
Michael Eley
Running time 240 mins (in four parts)
Production company(s) BBC
Original network BBC Two
Original release 1999
Preceded by The Living Dead (1995)
Followed by The 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 looks at Britain's decline as a world power, the invention of asset stripping in the 1970s, and how buccaneer capitalists shaped the climate of the Thatcher years, focusing on the rise of 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]


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.[2]


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.[3]


  • 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)
  • 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.[4]


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.[5]



External links[edit]