PASSPORT; SIR LUDOVIC KENNEDY

The writer and broadcaster recalls the tension - and the laughter - of filming in Moscow in the Sixties

I've got one of those beastly new passports now, and it's empty. There are so many countries that don't stamp your passport these days.

Back in the early 1960s, it was different. I had a lovely old black passport. I was working on the BBC's Panorama programmes. When Robin Day and I went to Moscow, we were among the very first TV people allowed entry. In fact we got into trouble for filming vegetable queues and we were hauled up in front of the Board of Moscow Television. There were seven of them sitting in a row facing us. Their boss, in the middle, looking down on us, said: "The path you have chosen is the wrong one". Our producer, Jeremy Murray-Brown, just burst out laughing.

Some hilarious things happened to us in Moscow. One night, Jeremy was out very late at night by himself and he had no means of getting home. In fact he didn't know where he was. But suddenly he heard this huge rumbling noise: it was a Soviet tank coming up the street. So Jeremy decided to stick out his thumb and hitch a lift. The tank stopped. Jeremy asked: "Can you take me to the Hotel Ukraine?" And the tank driver agreed to take him home.

It was also pretty tense. Pretty grim. Climbing the steps to board the flight out we saw two men in trilbies. I thought we were going to be arrested. But they didn't stop us. An hour after take-off, the pilot announced that we were leaving Soviet airspace. The whole plane erupted into spontaneous cheers.

Another trip I did in those days for Panorama was to Saudi Arabia. The flight from Jeddah to Riyadh was extraordinary: there were sheep in the aisles and lots of clucking hens. When we arrived, a prince called Salman took me and my cameraman out into the desert and organised races for the retainers, using his starting pistol and a camera to snap them at the finish. It was like something out of Shakespeare.

We camped out, sitting under the stars with the prince, eating meat with our fingers. One sheep per night. The cameraman and I had a tent to ourselves. This may have been Saudi Arabia but there was a bottle of J&B and a pitcher of cold water waiting for us when we retired to sleep.

My first trip to India was another unusual experience. I was riding a taxi to Bombay when suddenly a man in a sky-blue suit and red teeth stopped the car, opened the door and got in. This was odd enough. Then he began asking questions. "What are you thinking of Harold Macmillan, Kingsley Amis and Charles Dickens?" he asked. There was a long pause. I asked what he was thinking.

"I am thinking of a poem about you," he said. "Happy in Love, Dauntless in Work, is Mr L Kennedy of the BBC."

I complained that it didn't rhyme, so he tried again:

"I seal with a kiss, our heavenly bliss," he began, but at that moment we arrived and I was spared the rest of his poem.

Sir Ludovic Kennedy's latest book, `All in the Mind' was published in January by Hodder & Stoughton, price pounds 18.99.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable