Gibson Square, Islington, London. 10 minutes from St. Paul’s, and 15 from Piccadilly. A house here will cost you from eight to ten thousand pounds, yet most people living here are working class. Seven years ago, you could afford one of these houses for a couple of thousand, and there weren’t too many takers. But since then, these late Georgian houses have become increasingly fashionable, and there’s been an invasion of young professional people. So now, the 400 people who live in these 70 houses, range across the social scale, the identical facades are misleading. Here you find rich and poor, old and young, workers and bosses, behind uniform front doors, all kinds of condition of men. Knock on these doors and you enter squalid rooms, or beautiful homes.
Opening Narration to "6 Sides of a Square", BBC documentary, 1966
Fifty years ago, a BBC documentary director knocked on the doors of Gibson Square to learn more about the residents that lived there. Across six episodes he told their stories, and through them the stories of London and Britain, with its housing, class, feminism, and family values. At the time it was groundbreaking, with a fantastic cast of honest and open residents. Newspapers praised the BBC for this documentary achievement, but little did they realise that it would also become a capsule, recording these moments forever. If you're reading this page, you've probably received a letter from me, and I need your help. I'm currently developing a new series, a remake of '6 Sides Of A Square', comparing the lives of those that lived here fifty years ago with those that live here now.
If you're a resident on Gibson Square, I'd greatly appreciate meeting you one evening, ideally at your home. I'll ask you some of the same questions that were put to the people that lived in your home in 1965. At this stage, it is just for research, and you'll be making no commitment to be on television. Hopefully I'll also be able to provide you with some more information about your home.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me on 07763626152.
If I don't answer, leave a message and I'll be sure to call back.
Until then, here is some more information about the original series, and a couple of episodes that I've uploaded to a private player (you'll need the password that was included in the letters I've sent out).
Episode 1 - An Englishman’s Home
One square in Islington - 70 houses - About 400 lives. People of very different kinds live here, some very wealthy, some in great need.
Episode 2 - World’s Of Their Own
Graham and Sabrina: two children who live there and play together - but from very different homes and going to very different schools, and with very different chances in life.
Episode 3 - The Leisure Myth
Three people on their way to work-Terry, the lorry driver; John, the architect; Agnes, the bus conductress. Do they enjoy work? What would they do with more free time? Two strangely similar reactions, but from Agnes a startling answer
Episode 4 - A Woman’s Place
Have women really won equality? Should a mother go out to work? The old remember past hardships; three young working mothers show that the present has its problems, too.
Episode 5 - The More We Are Together
The square reveals moving contrasts between rich and poor, loved and lonely. Tonight's programme shows the several faces of old age-at one extreme Mrs. Beecroft, the queen of her family, still dominating seven sons, eight daughters, and her teeming grand-children-at the other Mrs. Lyons, disowned and neglected by her family
Episode 6 - The Two Nations
The final programme in the series looks at the impact of the middle-class newcomers on the Square and on Islington generally. Clearly revealed are two nations-those who can plan and get their way, and those who neither know their rights nor can begin to defend them.