32 Londoners 2014 - Charlie Chaplin with Bryony Dixon

Bryony Dixon on CHARLIE CHAPLIN - Actor b.1889, London

On May the 1st 2014, the EDF Energy London Eye hosted a unique event where each of its 32 capsules was given over to a talk by a well-known authority on a famous Londoner. To commemorate the occasion, this podcast series has been made of all the talks.

Charlie Chaplin was one of the greatest filmmakers and comedians of all time and his legendary slapstick routines are recognisable to this day. His father was an alcoholic, his mother suffered from bouts of insanity and Chaplin was sent to the workhouse at the age of seven. The theatre gave him an escape from a life of grinding poverty in the South London slums. After early success on the music hall stage he was signed up by Keystone movie studios while on tour in the USA and by 1915 his Tramp persona had made him one of the most famous actors in the world. In 1919 he founded United Artists with D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. He went on to direct and star in seminal films such as City Lights, Modern Times and the Great Dictator. In later years he was exiled from Hollywood after personal scandals and persecution for his left-wing politics during the McCarthy Era. He died in 1977. 

Bryony Dixon is Curator of silent film, BFI National Archive. She has researched and written on many aspects of early and silent film and co-directs the annual British Silent Film Festival, as well as programming for a variety of film festivals and events worldwide. She organised the first International Charles Chaplin Conference in 2005 and was lead curator on the BFI’s recent film restorations of all nine surviving Hitchcock silent films.