Psychedelic Britannia

Psychedelic Britannia


If all that you can call to mind when you see the word psychedelia is lava lamps, kaftans and running backwards in videos, then tune in, if not drop out, to this colourful rock doc. Luminaries recollect five years when everything was questioned and much that was naughty was imbibed. Ironies prevailed amid all the Arcadian rhythms: just as the Beatles were cutting loose, proggers Pink Floyd were going all pop. And beneath the LSD intake and pseuds-corner cobblers were childlike lyrics and a return to innocence.

Among many fantastic nuggets - a trademark of these Britannia films - is a poignant explanation for Pink Floyd's 1967 hit See Emily Play, thought at the time to be about Emily Young, then a teenager and now a sculptor. Young argues the song was about its writer, Syd Barrett. “There were two Syds: there was one who got on with his life and the other one had become a star and was taking huge amounts of drugs, and he was losing his grip. His muse, his poetic spirit, he called that Emily. It was the feminine… creative part of him. And that side really needed help.”

The experimental express stops at Arnold Layne, Pepperland and Itchycoo Park en route to the inevitable end, when commercialism crumpled the flower of psychedelia in its grasping palm. If you find it all too hard to take seriously, then try Spinal Tap's Flower People, or almost anything by XTC alter egos the Dukes of Stratosphear. Groovy!


The rise and fall of arguably the most visionary period in British music history, when between 1965 and 1970 a handful of dreamers re-imagined pop music. The psychedelic era produced some of the most ground-breaking music ever made, pioneered by young improvising bands like Soft Machine and Pink Floyd, then quickly taken to the charts by the likes of the Beatles, Procol Harum, Small Faces and Moody Blues. This film, narrated by Nigel Planer, features contributions and freshly shot performances from artists who lived and breathed the psych revolution.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Nigel Planer
Director Sam Bridger
Executive Producer Mark Cooper
Producer Sam Bridger