Problems Viewing Adam Curtis’s BBC series The Century of the Self and Why You Should Find a Way to View It

Adam Curtis: The Century of The Self. An award winning BBC mini-series (2002) everyone should know.

Adam Curtis: The Century of The Self. An award winning BBC mini-series (2002) everyone should know.

On ‘The Century of The Self’ Availability.

Newest development: 29 August 2013 – today I’ve posted an embed of the Vimeo post – FULL SERIES NOW AVAILABLE HERE AT THOUGHTSFROMTHEWELL:  Adam Curtis’ The Century of Self (video).

Previous notes, etc:    This post is about how access to this valuable series is now limited to such an extent it’s hardly available – with added notes on what it’s about. If you’re hoping to view the series, as of late August, 2013, it is now available ‘out there on the web’ only at Vimeo. Best YouTube link is 22 second post that explains “YouTube won’t allow us to show you this but you can view it at link below – and in ‘post info text’ gives the Vimeo link!!

To make sure there’s no confusion about where to find it ‘out there on the web‘-  Century of Self, is available at this VIMEO  LINK. (Also available at ‘topdocumentaryfilms‘ – as an embedded Vimeo.)

My computer system has ‘issues’ with Vimeo videos – slow to load, and long buffering pauses.  If viewing re-appears on YouTube, I’ll post the new link here. At present it looks as if YouTube has successfully reduced Century of Self to very small ‘snippets’ posted by an assortment of people.

Dear Readers!

When someone visits one of my blog posts published some time ago, I often ‘follow their lead’ and go the the post again. Sometimes I find I’d like to make editing changes. Sometimes I find an editing change is essential – such as a link that no longer works. I don’t find many ‘bad’ links but when I do, I try to find a working link immediately, or to in some other way refer readers to what I hoped they’d find at the link I gave.

Unfortunately, one of my favorite, most ‘revered’ links is now almost (but not quite) unavailable. Adam Curtis’s “The Century of The Self” BBC mini-series has practically vanished!

I’ve posted links to this excellent – even critically important – series “all over the place”. Links to this series are embedded in a number of my posts and pages. I’ve also posted links in comments sections of much social media in the last several years.

I’m not the only one who’s done so. Many, MANY people value Curtis’s The Century of the Self as an essential ‘quick trip’ into our own psychology, into understanding how our impulses work and are manipulated.

I personally think a copy of the series belongs in every home, along with the proverbial ‘bible and Shakespeare’ that at one time were always named as essential. I think every person from age 14 to 104 should see it today if they’ve not seen it before. I think every middle school teacher should share it with students for discussion. The Century of The Self should be reviewed in secondary school, as well as at least once in post-secondary education or by every person entering the work force, even if they don’t continue formal schooling.That’s how important I believe the series is!

This summer I’ve learned the documentary has been removed from a few ‘free documentary’ websites for reasons of copyright disputes. I don’t know if the dispute is with the series, perhaps infringement on rights of BBC, or with material used within the series. But at one time, Century of Self was widely and freely available. Now it is not.

Today, (6 August 2013) I’ve researched it’s availability. I post this, and will eventually set it up as a page, so that I can from now on reference this information rather than try to summarize and re-summarize every time I find another ‘bad’ link I may have posted to the series in a published piece.

Here’s what I’ve learned re availability of The Century of The Self series:

Still Available: (Late August 2013 changes noted above with bold link to Vimeo) Am leaving these in case video becomes available again on YouTube. Vimeo and ‘topdocumentaryfilms’ links here are same as above.)

Offered but NOT available(Lets us realize how ‘unavailable’ this series has become! Many who’ve linked to the series to ‘spread the word’ of its value are like me until very recently. They don’t realize viewing is largely blocked.) – plus some sites with only notes on the series:

  • No longer available at, (one of my favorite Century of Self links – posted ‘everywhere’, The site remains excellent for other documentaries)
  • Focus on The Century of Self series with excellent brief ‘per episode’ summaries – but viewing is blocked.  (
  • Extensive notes on the value of the Century of Self series. (Video links not-working), with a reminder the series is available via Amazon. (
  • Very (VERY) extensive notes on each of the 4 programs in the series here, (
  • Netflix: – not available – I don’t subscribe to Netflix but found this when searching for “purchase dvd of Century of self”. Very strange – read what Netflix users say about Century of Self and it’s ‘non-availability’! (Netflix user comments on The Century of the Self).
  • IMBD (a well-known Amazon film company) offers this on The Century of Self: (
  • BBC archive notes here on The Century of the Self, (BBC web archive).
  • Wikipedia notes on The Century of The Self.
  • I tried to locate a supplier to purchase the series on DVD other than Amazon (who it seems to me already have enough market share) but could not.

Additional: Copyright issues and intent of series author, Adam Curtis:

(1)The best information I can find without spending hours and hours searching is that there is a copyright dispute by BBC Worldwide in the second hour of the series, (“Due to a copyright claim on the second part of this series, made by BBC Worldwide …”) is noted by several who’ve posted on YouTube.

(2) Note on Adam Curtis intent with the series: While trying to track down information on why the once widely viewable series is now so unavailable, I coincidentally caught comments that the series “shows how an elite manipulates us”. This is NOT how I understood the series, and from what Adam Curtis, (documentarian who made the series) says, it is also not what he meant to explore.

Adam Curtis describes his intentions here.  (Scroll down to “Dear David  I’ll answer the points you made in your letter to me but first I just wanted to make a point ….”)

Why – if you’ve not seen this series – you ‘should’ give yourself 4 hours to view it. (Or take it in portions.)

From what I understood (and understand from other studies also) us human folk – all of us – are hard-wired geared in ways that let us respond to assorted manipulations (and to use these on one another). Everything I’ve observed, learned, and experienced in human behavior supports this understanding.

The series to me is not about ‘bad guys and victims’ . It’s more a head’s up that “we” – us human folk – are both. The series helps us be more aware of how and why language and image manipulations work,. It invites us  to consider how and why language and images are so powerful an influence.

To the extent we understand this about ourselves – about everyone, including ourselves – we can develop greater self-guiding wisdom. With better understanding of normal psychology built into our human-ness, we can more directly confront and reject manipulations that come our way

(Or we can more easily reject manipulations we deliver to ourselves in our own thoughts! We have many ‘self-reinforcing manipulations’ due to our exposure to, and unexamined acceptance of, “popular truths”!)

I don’t know if anyone or several of us can appeal to BBC to allow this series to again be widely and freely distributed, (I certainly can’t tackle that project today), but I do think it would be a valuable contribution to do so, and for BBC to allow its free, wide, viewing.

In the meantime, and perhaps even if the series becomes available on-line, we can consider purchasing copies, sharing them, donating them to schools and public libraries, etc.

My Best! -MaggieAnn

Yes, I know I’m inconsistent in the title – ranging from a simple “Century of Self” to “The Century of The Self”. Other sources also are inconsistent in this – so I’ve decided to ‘be OK’ with it myself unless I find someday I have absolutely nothing in all the world’s choices to do but edit for consistency in giving the title of this series!) 🙂


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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4 Responses to Problems Viewing Adam Curtis’s BBC series The Century of the Self and Why You Should Find a Way to View It

  1. Roxanne says:

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return yet again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

    • maggieannthoeni says:

      Money and freedom? I’m fine with “mutually supportive beliefs, practices, and social structures that nurture individual as well as whole group promise”. 🙂

  2. Vicki says:

    Hey, thx maggie, for tracking this down. Guess i better watch now while i can! I’ve seen parts of the Century of the Self and think i will start with The Trap this time.

    • maggieannthoeni says:

      I’ve seen both Century of Self and The Trap – happened to see them in that sequence (Self followed by Trap) and was mightily impressed. In some ways I found a few more flaws in The Trap – as if there could have been a few more ‘transition guides’ or ‘stitching together’ of featured elements. Maybe I’ll write on that sometime but take it from your note The Trap might also be less or barely available?

      One reason I think Century of Self is so vital is that it takes us to the beginning of ‘the science of public relations’, lets us see how we are manipulated, how we’ve built a society on manipulated memes, and – importantly – lets us also consider what it is in our normal human psychology that lets this manipulation work.

      I think a full ‘consumer psychology’ course, at least one semester long, could be developed around Century of Self. If I have a chance in next week or so will re-visit The Trap. Might even break my resistance to Amazon and purchase some of Curtis’s work – starting with Century of Self. (Used copies also avail on EBay I think).

      Great to hear from you! Thanks for visiting! I’ve been busier at this blog for a time, but as per my ‘announcements’ section on main page, I need to be out with shovel, etc., and may soon disappear into the outdoors until summer ‘closes’!

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