Directed by Michael Elliott
In the near future, society is split into two strata: The low-drives make up the zombie-like majority anaesthetized by an incessant diet of television, largely consisting of pornography. Television, and by extension the masses, is controlled by the high-drives, an educated class who remain servile through their perpetual quest for better ratings and audience subjugation. When the low-drives start to become increasingly uninterested in the programming on offer, co-ordinator Ugo Priest (Leonard Rossiter) ends up accidentally happening upon a new entertainment concept reality television.
First broadcast in 1968 The Year of the Sex Olympics is one of the most original pieces of television drama ever written and would foreshadow the likes of Big Brother and the phenomenon that is Love Island.
Feature-length audio commentary by actor Brian Cox: recorded for the BFI’s 2003 release
Nigel Kneale in conversation (2000, 71 mins, audio only): the writer looks back over his career with Professor Julian Petley
Kim Newman introduction (2003, 5 mins): the writer, critic and broadcaster guides us into the world created by Nigel Kneale and Michael Elliott
Joyce Hammond’s Costume Designs (2020, 8 mins): a gallery of designs and drawings including the original colour swatches
Le Pétomane (1973, 31 mins): a this short comedy biopic of Joseph Pujol, penned by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and starring Leonard Rossiter
Fifty Years of Broadcasting (1972, 5 mins): an episode of the COI’s cinemagazine This Week in Britain, looking at the work of the BBC on its anniversary
UK | 1968 | black and white | 103 mins | English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | original aspect ratio 1.33:1 | DVD9: PAL, 25fps, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio (192kbps)