Duncan Campbell's Secret Society - BBC Documentary Series - 1987
October 12, 2014 11:42 AM   Subscribe

This is Duncan Campbell's BBC documentary series Secret Society which shows the never broadcast episode on secret groups, committees and societies that operate silently within British government. The first episode about secret cabinet committees features author Peter Hennessy, Clive Ponting and MP Clement Freud amongst others. It also contains the infamous Zircon spy satellite epsode. [Warning - Vimeo - alternative links for four of these are at Archive.org.]

From the Website:

Episode 1: The Secret Constitution: Secret Cabinet Committees

The opening episode exposes a rampant culture of secrecy dominant in Westminster. These clandestine committees and groups yield untold influence on government policy and yet operate completely independent of public scrutiny or accountability.

Episode 2: In time of crisis

Since 1982, governments in every other NATO country have been preparing for the eventuality of war. In Britain, these preparations are kept secret. So what will happen when the balloon goes up?

Episode 3: A gap in our defences

Bungling defence manufacturers and incompetent military planners have botched every new radar system that Britain has installed since World War Two. Why? And can we stop it happening again?

Episode 4: We're all data now

The Data Protection Act is supposed to protect us from abuse, but it's already out of date and full of loopholes. So what kind of abuses should we worry about?

Episode 5: ACPO

ACPO have been making up their own law and policy. This episode investigates the Association of Chief Police Officers and how Government policy and actions are determined in the fields of law and order

Episode 6: Zircon

The infamous 'Zircon' episodes reveals the existence of a £500m British spy satellite programme kept secret from Parliament


Secret Society

Zircon Affair.
posted by marienbad (8 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

I can't see Clement Freud's name without remembering hearing him talking about how the dog in his famous 1960s dog food ads hampered filming by continually getting erections. Clement thought this was rather a good recommendation for the product...

(I'll watch the videos now, promise.)
posted by sobarel at 11:59 AM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

He didn't find out about the cabal, did he?
posted by chavenet at 12:05 PM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well sorta, chavenet.
posted by marienbad at 1:33 PM on October 12, 2014

Very exciting. I'm just learning about all this on Wikipedia now.

Is "Secret Cabinet Committees" the "Cabinet" episode that was never aired, and that Campbell was unable to obtain the rights for to broadcast on Channel 4? Wikipedia's Zircon Affair page includes an allegation that the Cabinet episode was regarded as even more dangerous than the Zircon one.
posted by grobstein at 1:36 PM on October 12, 2014

I am certain that Mycroft Holmes is at the heart of this.
posted by Ber at 1:56 PM on October 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's depressing to know how little has changed, as ACPO is still around and having a direct hand in policing policy, while profiting from it.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:17 PM on October 12, 2014

Is "Secret Cabinet Committees" the "Cabinet" episode that was never aired

Yes. The Zircon one, the bit where he tells the head of the PAC about Zircon is stunning.
posted by marienbad at 8:54 AM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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