Home truths are best Sellers

Home movies made by the late Peter Sellers, including one of him doing a spoof conjuring trick with Princess Margaret, were shown for the first time yesterday, revealing an obsessive side to the comedian, writes David Lister.

Sellers documented much of his personal and professional life on he been obtained by the BBC after 12 years of negotiations. Many are of him with his family, some with the Goons, others with co-stars such as Sophia Loren.

The most extraordinary is where he disappears behind a screen, promising to transform himself into Princess Margaret "in 11 seconds flat". Eleven seconds later, the princess does indeed appear, dancing about in Goon Show-style and wearing a skirt and socks. That particular home movie was made as a birthday present to the Queen in the early Sixties. In others, he does a commentary on his son, Michael, in the voice of his Goon Show creation Bluebottle, and of the gadget-obsessed Sellers cavorting around in a fork-lift truck on the set of I'm all right, Jack.

Excerpts will be shown in a three-part Arena series on Sellers' life on BBC 2 next month. While BBC head of arts Kim Evans claimed the showing of private home movies added a new dimension to the usual television biography, the memories for Sellers' family were not necessarily happy ones.

His former wife, the actress Britt Ekland, refused to allow the BBC to show intimate moments between her and Sellers. She told the Arena director Peter Lyden it was an unhappy part of her life and she did not want to be seen as the ex-Mrs Sellers. But moments from their wedding will be shown.

Sellers' son, Michael, recalls: "I remember he always had a light meter round his neck; I was light-meter height." His mother, Sellers' first wife, the actress Anne Levy, who was at yesterday's press launch with veteran British stars such as Liz Fraser, Herbert Lom and Ian Carmichael, recalled: "He became besotted by Sophia Loren. He then treated me as his mother. It got very difficult. Every character he played, he brought home, he'd come home as the Indian doctor or some little Welshman. It was unnerving, a bit like living on the edge of a precipice."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones