When we first visited the BFI Southbank’s new exhibition, the first quote we heard gasped from the lips of a startled BFI archivist was “every time I walk past, I seem to be seeing Alan Whicker standing on a giant penis!”
No need to cover the kids’ eyes for more than few seconds, it’s all part of the fun of the exhibition, where visitors can watch Alan reporting from the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset (otherwise known as the Giant Penis man) and test their knowledge of some of his best work with our interactive quiz ‘Around Whicker’s World in 13 Guesses’.
As well as caring for one of the world’s richest moving image collections, the British Film Institute National Archive holds world-class Special Collections of scripts, posters, designs, photographs and other documents, including the archives of some of Britain’s most important film and programme makers. Alan Whicker’s vast personal archive was donated to the BFI in March 2016 by his partner Valerie Kleeman, with some of its historic content now being showcased for the first time ever at the Mezzanine Gallery.
Presenting highlights from some of their most exciting recent acquisitions, the exhibition also includes the papers of costume designer Jenny Beavan (of Mad Max: Fury Road, The King’s Speech and Sherlock Holmes) and S John Woods, the man behind many of the best-loved Ealing Studios posters. In the Whicker section, fans can marvel at some of Alan’s original scripts, passports, photographs and letters transported from his former home in Jersey. Items include a BBC Audience report for series Whicker Down Under and interview question cards from some of his best known documentaries including Papa Doc: The Black Sheep (1969) and The World of James Bond (1967).
Think you know Whicker’s World? Well think again. Our film quiz of Alan’s life and work will be playing alongside the display throughout its duration and boggling the minds of film-loving visitors. TV-savvy participants will be transported from gun-guarded palaces in Haiti to quiet nunneries in England as we remember the best moments from a broadcasting career that spanned over almost six decades.
The display and film will be accessible from Thursday the 15th September to Sunday 23rd October 2016 at the Mezzanine Gallery, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XT during BFI opening times. Entry is completely free of charge and open to everyone.