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Last on

Mon 22 Oct 2012 20:00 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
28 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 22 October 2012

History tells us that Peter Rachman was a slum landlord; the evil head of an empire based on vice, violence and extortion. His festering heartland was Notting Hill - long before the rich and famous made it their home.

But can we really trust history?

On the fiftieth anniversary of Rachman's death, Joshua Levine goes in search of the man behind the legend. Looking beyond the tabloid headlines and the scandal of the Profumo affair, he asks whether Rachman deserves such a sordid reputation?

With no films or tapes, and only three photographs of the notorious 50s landlord, rumour and hearsay is all that remains. In an attempt to find the truth, Levine tracks down the key players who can shed light on Rachman's past. Mandy Rice Davis, famous for her role in the Profumo scandal, tells Josh about the generous, intelligent and vulnerable man she fell in love with as a 16 year old fresh to London; controversial modern landlord Nicholas van Hoogstraten shares how landlords like he and Rachman made money out of the slums; and noted psychologist James Thompson analyses the behaviour of Rachman in light of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.

With access to newly released Home Office documents and old Rachman tenants, Joshua Levine pieces together the puzzle to ask who is the real Peter Rachman?

Produced by Gemma Newby
A Goldhawk Essential Limited production for BBC Radio 4.

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