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BFI National Archive

Joan Littlewood Pleasure Roll 54 - underground station, people

2m 52s


Going underground.

Take a trip on the tube in 1963 with this neatly recorded journey from ticket machine to exit gate between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

After some shots of people shopping, this film takes us onto the Tube, following the whole process – buying a ticket, through the barrier, down the escalator, on the Piccadilly Line train, up the escalator, out the exit gate. It’s a short trip – Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square – but hugely enjoyable, not least because of our fellow passengers, like the chap in a top hat. Filmed by Joan Littlewood in 1963 for a film about Londoners’ pleasures.

Selected by London's Screen Archives on behalf of the BFI National Archive

Further information

Joan Littlewood was an English theatre director best remembered for her work in such productions as A Taste of Honey, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used t’Be and Oh, What a Lovely War! Her interests, however, went far beyond the world of theatre. In collaboration with the architect Cedric Price she came up with the idea of Fun Palaces. Their idea was to create a moveable construction that would become a space where people of all ages could come together to explore and learn about arts, science and culture, a “university of the streets”.
In order to promote this venture she made a film which was reportedly shown at the National Film Theatre in the early 1970s but has since disappeared without a trace. This short film is part of the rushes shot as part of that project in London and the South East. Shot in pubs and clubs, galleries and museums, air shows and stock car races, the 16mm films are a window on life in 1963, from mixed couples dancing in backstreet clubs, striptease acts in East End pubs, and life in the new tower blocks which were springing up out of the postwar ‘slum clearance’.
Although sadly the Fun Palaces did not come to fruition during her lifetime, in October 2014, the weekend before her centenary, hundreds of fun palaces appeared across the UK and beyond. During the weekend, over 150 venues and companies enlisted along with independent artists, scientists and community events organisers. Fun Palaces are now very much a community event created by and for local people. They are held in a variety of locations, ranging from libraries, shopping centres, schools, parks, village squares, community halls, swimming pools, etc.

This film is part of the following galleries:
London Untold
Joan Littlewood - The need for Fun Palaces


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United Kingdom; England; London; Westminster; Piccadilly Circus



Documentary; Travel/travelogue; Women's filmmaking


Director: Joan Littlewood
Camera operator: Walter Lassally


Archive name Format LSA ID Archive's identifier Sound
BFI National Archive ProRes digital file LSA26410 Mute
Available from BFI National Archive on ProRes digital file
More info...
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