The Ipcress File

‘A plan to brain-wash the entire framework of the nation,’ said Jean, over the coffee and croissants. ‘It’s hardly credible.’

After a long hiatus, Tim and Lloyd are back with the (unlucky-for-some) 13th Curiously Specific Book Club podcast.

They start the new series with something that comes easy to them both – a leisurely stroll around Soho. Who knew Len Deighton’s classic 1962 spy novel The Ipcress File was the perfect excuse for a long lunch and a general loaf?

They head down to Gerrard Street to the supposed location of the fictional coffee bar ‘Lederer’s’ where talk turns to Buddy Holly, the Kray twins and Princess Margaret. On to another legendary coffee bar, the Moka (there are a ridiculous number of references to coffee in The Ipcress File). The talk is now of Gina Lollobrigida and William Burroughs.

An argument ensues on Old Compton Street about the precise dating of the book – does the action take place in 1959/60 or 1961/62? On Dean Street, they use the site of Franco and Mario’s La Trattoria Terrazza restaurant (much loved by spies, movie stars and ad execs) to continue the argument. Princess Margaret and The Beatles feature.

They have their actual lunch in a trattoria just off Charlotte Street, a few metres from Dalby’s offices of WOOC (P).  Whilst munching on spaghetti and Milanese in the heart of 1960s London adland, Lloyd offers insights into the serious business of brainwashing.  George Blake is mentioned.

Fuelled with chianti and pinot grigio, they trundle back on a bus to south London  on the trail of both Deighton and Michael Caine (the star of the film). Discussion is had about the Cold War, nuclear testing in the Pacific and the shocking details of how the Americans (with the support of the British) ruined atolls and the lives of those who lived on them. Somehow they still manage to shoe-horn in references to James Bond and garlic sausage.

Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & Credits

Pick of the Pops Soundtrack and Alan Freeman – and

The Ipcress File brainwashing scene –

Golden Wonder crisp advert –

Interview with Len Deighton –

The Shadows, Bongo Blues –

Fairey Band –

Paul McCartney, Summer of 59 –

Atom Bomb Explosion Aka Atom Bomb Test At Eniwetok (1956) –

Cadburys Drinking Chocolate advert –

Candid Caine – A Self Portrait of Michael Caine (1969) –

Theme Tune to The Ipcress File –


Len Deighton wikipedia –

Len Deighton London Dossier –

Town: A Day in the life of Len Deighton:

1962 Events –

Look at Life Coffee Bar 1959 –

Flamingo Club  –

William Burroughs and the strange demise of London’s first espresso bar –

La Trattoria Terrazza –

William Sargant –

Psychological Warfare: ‘Brainwashing’ –

George Blake –

Etinawok atoll /US nuclear testing –

Johnston Atoll –

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