Episode 36

Soho Bites 36: The Optimists of Nine Elms (1973)

Everything changes but....

The changing faces of London neighbourhoods is our loose theme for this episode.

In the first half, the novelist, Christopher Fowler makes his second appearance on the podcast, talking about his latest book and about his memories of Soho - a neighbourhood which changes constantly but somehow always remains the same.

***UPDATE*** Christopher very sadly died a few weeks after we recorded this conversation. You can read an obituary HERE.

Follow Chris on Twitter and peruse his website.

Read about Chris's most well known charcters in The History of Bryant & May.

This episode features a snatch of original music composed by Des Burkinshaw. It was written as the theme tune for proposed TV adaptation of the Bryant & May series. Listen to it on this page of Chris's website.

Follow Des on Twitter.

Our featured film is The Optimists of Nine Elms (1973) in which Peter Sellers, playing a faded former music hall star, befriends - or is befriended by - two local kids. It's a beautiful portrayal of an unlikely friendship and of an area that has massively changed in the intervening 50 years. Our film chat guest, Robert JE Simpson, rather likes it.

Follow Robert on Twitter and check out his podcast Cinepunked. He is also engaged in some detailed research into Exclusive Films.

Definitely definitely definitely try to watch the Optimists of Nine Elms. It's available to stream on the BFI Player.

This clip will give you a flavour of it

Here's a set of lovely old lobby cards of the film.

Have a look at some of the loations from the film, then & now, on the every brilliant Reelstreets website.


In episode 33 we discussed The Sandwich Man with the aforementioend Christopher Fowler. That episode has just been included as a bonus feature on a new 4K release of the film. To win a DVD, answer the question: Who was Dora Bryan frequently mistaken for by members of the public? Winners will be announced in the next episode.

If you're not lucky enough to win a free copy, you can always purchase one from our friends at Network on Air

If you would like to support the show with a small financial contribution towards our running costs you can do that here. For every £1 donated, a kitten lives.

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Between March & May 2022, we ran a series of screenings of 1930s quota quickie films at the Kino Cinema in Bermondsey. Each screening was followed by a Q&A with our resident quickie expert, Dr Lawrence Napper of Kings College London and a specially invited expert guest. We will be returning to the Kino in the autumn for season 2 but, in the meantime, you can hear season one of the Kino Quickies podcast at KinoQuickies.com. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The originator of Soho Bites, Dr Jingan Young, has a new book coming out all about.... guess what? Films set in Soho! Get your copy at Foyles.

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Worked in Soho many moons ago and was always fascinated by its past. Really enjoy this show and didn't realize so many films were set there!
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