The Year Of The Sex Olympics [DVD] 
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In a world where gluttony and sex are dealt with by television programmes and language and conflict have become almost redundant due to the dominance of television, executives have found that audience numbers are beginning to decline. That is until Ugo Priest (Leonard Rossiter) comes up with a new concept; reality tv where a couple are left on a deserted island and filmed 24 hours a day to see how they survive (familiar theme nowadays).
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However, it poses all the usual questions - can you comprehend an emotion , even if you don't have a word for it? (Kneale's answer is ultimately reassuring - YES!)Is there such a thing as moral goodness in a corrupt world? Again the same answer. Is there escape from endless banality? Yes, but at a price...
I'll be honest, my partner found this a bit difficult, so he went to bed before the "scary bit" - which was, after the very long scene setting, extremely scary and seriously upsetting. It's as if the writer was saying "Well, you want to be frightened - this is the ultimate price of your whim". And you find yoursef thinking - er- we are no better than the people/society we think we are criticising - and that is truly unsettling.
I really think it would be very interesting to re-do this with the kaftans replaced by Armani suits (will look as dated in 20 years) the "Brighteners" replaced by cocaine and PERHAPS the language changed a bit. Having said that, well, the man knows, that's all I can say!
PS Forgot to mention the lead, Leonard Rossiter. He was good. But a surprisingly poignant moment was when one of the vapid presenters was told to tell a joke - and she tried, bless her, but it just didn't work.Much as it doesn't with presenters today.
Year of the Sex Olympics is set in an unspecified amount of time in the future in a world of over-population and totalitarianism. Society is divided into an intellectual class and the rest of society "the low drives" who are the audience. In this the "nanny state" has complete control of the media, using it as a tool to coerce people away from negative thoughts "tension" and into apathy. Censorship was removed at some point in the past but thanks to the need to keep the audience entertained and watching the shows, the content of television has become reduced to titilation and endless gameshows.
After the on screen death of an "artsex" director causes a huge audience surge, a young executive suggests that the random nature of the incident might have caused the audience to show interest, given that modern life is so controlled. A new show is suggested in which contestants are forced to live like the "old days", on an island and as a family. They will be left to fend for themselves and the show will be screened on a channel 24 hours a day, every day - something that we've all becomed accustomed to.
As the "high drives" and their child struggle to get to grips with the totally new environment away from their luxury living quarters, the director and "the audience" revel in the delight at the plight of the on screen family. To an audience born into a world without suffering, pain or violence they react with delight at the increasing amount of on-screen misery. Treating the whole programme as an experiment in audience psychology, oblvious to the emotions and lives of the characters on screen, the director tweaks the concept of the show to induce even more hardship on the family culminating in a final ten minutes of television that are possibly some of the most horrific and harrowing scenes I've ever watched.
All in all, the programme left me flabbergasted. This is a piece of marvelous television, saved from being all but a memory by the luck of being recorded by a crew member for their own use. Alas the DVD has also been deleted but I'd strongly recommend this to anyone who revels in dystopian sci-fi and also as a cautionary tale to the ultimate end of the dumbing down of television and society in general.
First broadcast in 1968, surprisingly I had never seen this TV play until today, but being a fan of the Quatermass tales and of The Stone Tape, I expected something very special. Did I get it? Yeah definitely, although I will admit that some elements seem horribly dated at times and the scene setting in the first half does drag occasionally.
Set in a not too distant future, The Year of the Sex Olympics takes the basic premise that gross over-population demanded some sort of mind-control over the masses. The powers that be (or high-drives) discovered that the common people (low-drives) can be kept placid and in their place by a constant diet of TV pornography. After a while though, even low-drives can become blasé and need something new. Clumsy attempts at slapstick humour fall well wide of the mark, but the accidental death of a protesting studio worker shown live on TV, becomes an instant hit with the public. What next? Well the controllers put their heads together and, quite simply invent reality TV - decades before now commonplace TV shows such as Big Brother, Cast Away 2000 and Survivor. Don't worry, no further spoilers, but I will say that the outcome is genuinely disturbing.
In fact, The Year of the Sex Olympics not only predicts over-population and reality TV, but sensationalist and irresponsible media in general, mobile communication devices, personal stereos, chess computers, people seeking gross diversion on media such as Youtube and even a form of truncated text speak (e.g. "that gives me the creeps" becomes "it shudders me" and "for the rest of their lives" is "til boneout". Obviously, some elements of the film look horribly dated - most notably the clothes and hair-dos but Kneale certainly got more predictions right than wrong.
Please don't be put off by the cheesy title or the slightly laboured opening half an hour. This is a very important piece of TV history that demonstrates, once again, what a visionary genius Nigel Kneale was.