BBC Learning Zone Clips

CLIP 11148

Musical 'Hair' premieres in London, 1968 (audio)

Musical 'Hair' premieres in London, 1968 (audio)
Key Info
  • Musical 'Hair' premieres in London, 1968 (audio)
  • Duration: 08:59
  • Oliver Tobias remembers getting a part in the new musical 'Hair', which was to be performed in London's West End for the first time in 1968. The musical centres around a group of hippies and their subversive lifestyle. Plays were still subject to censorship by the Lord Chamberlain, who had the power to prevent plays being performed, or to have controversial content removed. 'Hair' included nudity, swearing, drug taking and negative attitudes to religion that would usually be enough to have a play cancelled. The producers delayed the show's premiere until after parliament had changed the law on censorship and the show could go ahead. Oliver remembers that the production style was also radically different - he interacted with members of the audience, climbing out into the seating. The audience mostly responded positively, dancing on the stage by the end of the show. The drama critic from 'The Times' newspaper gave the show a positive review, however 'The Daily Telegraph' did not approve. Oliver feels the show was important in challenging conservative social attitudes at the time and in protesting against the Vietnam war. This clip from ‘Witness’ is published on the World Service website: and was first broadcast on 28 September 2010. Please note this is an audio clip and only available in Flash.
  • Subject:



    British Life in the 20th Century

  • Keywords: musicals, theatre, actor, performance, counter-culture, hippy, censorship, controversy, Vietnam War, popular culture, oral history, primary evidence, Witness
Ideas for use in class
  • Use the 'swinging 60s' as an example of a period of great social change. This short clip totally encapsulates the whole notion of the ‘hippy movement’ and what many of the young were rallying against in the 1960s. This clip could also support learning about the Vietnam war - considering why attitudes changed towards the war. Group projects studying the ‘hippy movement’ or entertainment.
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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