Podcast episode 44 features a conversation with British journalist and documentary film maker Adam Curtis.

We met on the 16th December 2016 in the meeting room of the London production company where my producer friend Seamus works. In the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election the conversation often focused on a favourite theme of Mr Curtis: where the pursuit of individualism is leading us. We also talked about how Adam uses music in his films and I sneaked a bit of death chat in there too. You’re welcome! A few related links below.

Thanks to Nicky Waltham and her editor friend Doug Bryson for helping me put this episode together along with my regular production support pal Seamus Murphy Mitchel.


The two part podcast I mentioned featuring a great talk between the late journalist Mark Colvin and presenter Richard Fidler is HERE. Mark’s book ‘Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son’ is HERE.

This illustration is by Mark’s niece ANNA HIGGIE.


Lots of interesting bits and pieces from Adam HERE


Listen to a brilliant and varied selection of tracks used in Adam’s films (compiled by Chin Tee) HERE.


NOTE! Some of these have been edited slightly. The upload of Bitter Lake for example appears to be missing the very scene I spoke to Adam about :a piece of footage of an Afghani man in a tent, grinning at the camera and dancing about as the closing section of Runaway by Kanye West plays on the soundtrack. Part of the Kanye section is there, but not the best bit! The grinning man in the tent! Here’s documentary maker Errol Morris referencing the very same scene.

As I type you can still watch the full version of Bitter Lake (and probably other films by Adam) on the iplayer HERE. Grinning Man is about 1hr 19mins in.


I’d never seen the video for this song before I looked for it to post here. Gosh.





Posted by: Adam on @ 10:41 pm


  • I just wanted to say a quick thank you for this great interview and for introducing me to Adam Curtis’s work.

    Comment by Aaron Swain — May 19, 2017 @ 3:49 pm

  • Curtis and Buxton, my two favourite Adams. Really enjoyed this one.

    Comment by Jason Stubbs — May 19, 2017 @ 5:59 pm

  • Adam, can’t thank you enough for bringing my most favourite Adams together for the most wonderful ramblechat. I’ve loved everyone of your podcasts but that was by far the best yet. Thank you. Love – Robert

    Comment by Robert — May 19, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

  • wanker ????????

    Comment by Livi Bairn — May 19, 2017 @ 10:12 pm

  • Hey Buckles…i actually haven’t listened to this one yet…but i know i’ll enjoy it so i’ll just say right now…Hey that was one of the best ramblechats i’ve ever heard in my whole life. great work.

    What i actually came to say was i’ve been listening to your older Adam and Joe 6 music podcasts, and you mentioned in one a silly idea for a restaurant called Hey Pesto…well a few weeks ago i saw a catering van called Hey Pesto. Amazing!! I pointed it out to my son and everything. He wasn’t at all interested. Actually, now i’ve written it, it seems really shit and boring and i most definitely shouldn’t have really bothered. But, i am so much enjoying listening to the old 6 music show bits, i really do wish you would come back. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. I

    Comment by Sue Yates — May 20, 2017 @ 6:21 pm

  • Really interesting conversation with the most intriguing documentarian around. An absolute pleasure. Kudos!

    Comment by Michael Needleman — May 21, 2017 @ 10:48 am

  • Really very interesting chap. Excellent choice of guest.

    On another note… ever thought about a ramblechat with Matt Holness?

    Comment by Iain L — May 21, 2017 @ 9:26 pm

  • Great podcast as always.

    Just finished listening to the Mark Colvin interview, thanks so much for pointing it out.

    Comment by Rory — May 22, 2017 @ 7:13 am

  • I really enjoyed this episode. Curtis has some fascinating ideas, which, though I don’t agree with all of them, I found very interesting. By the by, re. Death. I’m a few steps nearer the grave than you and have found my approaching non-existence quite positive. Ambition has finally dissipated and I now only do things that I enjoy, or, at least, do not give me pain. Re. Larkin. I prefer ‘The Winter Palace’ to ‘The Old Fools’, which you quoted in an earlier podcast. It’s a far more benign depiction of old age and its final line is brilliant – ‘My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow’.

    Comment by David Sunderland — May 22, 2017 @ 7:39 am

  • Man alive, I love Adam Curtis – Thank you Buckles!

    Comment by P. Woodhills — May 22, 2017 @ 10:05 am

  • I think this is in my top 3 for sure, really fascinating and I’d happily hear more.

    Many, many thanks

    Comment by Stewart Birch — May 22, 2017 @ 1:32 pm

  • Buckulator 5000, this Adam x 2 podcast was the toppist. And same as Mr Curtis, I don’t do soshal meeja so this digital ouja is my only means of sending you my high praise.

    I concur 100% with Curtis’ take and could almost have written his script. It was the antidote to the technocratic bien pensant guff spouted by Eno 9who’s records have) in your earlier podcast. I wonder if that might be why Curtis was so bristly at the mention of Eno here?

    Lastly, your previous podcast with Mark Maron gave me an out of body experience. It’s so odd to hear you both using my name, in a music discussion about the late jazz legend.

    Cheers for all the chuckles Buckles!

    Comment by Lee Morgan — May 24, 2017 @ 2:07 pm

  • In case anyone was wondering I think the nine inch nails song Curtis mentions is called right where it belongs. Which side of the glass is in the lyrics.

    Comment by Jody — May 24, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

  • In Oh Dearism it’s featured as part of Charlie Brookers program – think Brooker would make a great guest on the show – what do you say Professor Buckles?

    Am a big fan of Adam Curtis my favourite being the Power of Nightmares which was fascinating so enjoyed the show

    Congrats on the comedy award – yours and Herrings are the two I look forward to listening to in the car or while resetting rooms.

    An old podcast but when you and Joe were talking about instead of a show called Skins one called Pens about the kids who behave themselves I was howling with laughter with your silly voices talking about the intro to Skins.


    Comment by Paul Cowen — May 26, 2017 @ 3:16 am

  • I’m probably in a small minority here, but I find Adam Curtis’s work somewhat verbose and not very compelling. I can see a basis for some of what he says, and it’s good to view everything with a questioning scepticism, but sometimes things just happen and the reasoning isn’t what you might think. Sure most of us get information via a media filter, which can skew the facts, but conspiracy theories are equally deserving of scepticism. I find Adam Curtis’s work veering close to conspiracy theory.The closer you look the more you find, and your interpretation is not necessarily correct.

    Comment by Vince — May 26, 2017 @ 10:09 am

  • Hi Adam, long time listener-lurker who had to sign up to say thanks for this episode. For me, Adam Curtis has always hovered somewhere between a kindly, slightly mysterious uncle who knows everything, and the character actor in the Avengers who lures Peel and Steed to his giant mad-mansion where he’s plotting to weaponise the common cold. (On the basis of this podcast, I’m imagining him in the second setting.) Lots of things I’d disagree with in his analysis, but there was one point of fact (i.e., not-fact) that really bugged me. It’s not correct for Mr C to suggest that civil rights took off in the U.S. in the 1960s because white liberals were brave enough to travel to the South and sit down/stand up beside African American protesters. The solidarity and cooperation of white students (especially in the ‘Freedom Summer’ of 1964) played a role in pushing forward the agenda, but it’s maddening to hear the story of civil rights dramatised in a way that identifies white solidarity/validation as a decisive factor. A ton of African Americans risked serious physical harm/death for more than a decade before the white kids came on board; and the African American drivers of change stayed at the table long after white students had gone home. If anything, white liberals and their hang-ups about race were more of a drag on racial justice than a force for positive change — something Martin Luther King Jr. recognised in his infamous observation that the “white moderate” was a bigger threat to equality than the Ku Klux Klan.

    I’m sorry to sound all heavy on you, but much of Curtis’s argument about the “oh-dearism” of today’s liberals depends on a romantic and historically-challenged view of liberals of yore. I fully expect to post more on this after future podcasts with Buxton-approved Thought Generals.

    Comment by Nick — May 30, 2017 @ 8:32 pm

  • Hey Adam,

    I thought you did really well in that interview, but I had to stop listening after an hour.

    I really like Curtis’ films and in that context his arguments are compelling and thought provoking. But talking to you he came across as rude, arrogant and massively condescending. Your comments in response to some of his more outlandish statements were extremely level-headed whereas he seemed to be patronising you, “Oh, you’re just a comedian”.

    Talking endlessly about “our time” and throwing out mass generalisations…I could almost hear you squirming in your seat.

    I’ve lost a little bit of respect for him after this unfortunately, but I thought you handled him with your usual grace and poise as well as keeping things humorous and honest.

    Top job Adam!

    All the best, Steve

    Comment by Steve Balls — May 31, 2017 @ 9:33 am

  • Hey – that was excellent! Many thanks. The more we hear from A Curtis the better; I’m glad he produced something relatively soon after Bitter Lake. He introduced me both to Burial and Dos Passos too, for which I am very grateful. Always worth listening to what he has to say. Yeah!

    Comment by MIKE RAE — June 23, 2017 @ 8:47 am

  • I have always found everything I have seen from Adam Curtis to be supremely engaging in a way that nothing else really matches up to. Thank you so much for this episode of your excellent podcast.

    Comment by Matt — June 29, 2017 @ 2:14 pm

  • He sounds like Tim Brooke-Taylor. Do Tim Brooke-Taylor! The perils of populist individualism are all very well, but what about Me And My Girl anecdotes?

    Comment by Chankles — August 7, 2017 @ 11:59 am

  • I doff my hat to both the good Adams and the fine work produced by both. However I aint so sure about the Burial, its as if a shit orb met a fucked up dead can dance and made some bollocks. Otherwise its ‘thumbs up’.

    Comment by Geraint — August 8, 2017 @ 6:52 am

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