Peter Wyngarde – Hippie And The Skinhead

20th November 2021 · 1970, 1970s, Music

Everyone my age must have grown up with Peter Wyngarde’s two TV shows – Department S and Jason King. Few have heard his only album.

In that era of shows about “gentleman adventurers” – The Saint, The Baron, The Persuaders, The Protectors – Wynarde was Jason King – a suave womaniser supposedly based on Ian Fleming.

With his luxuriant hair and droopy moustache, flapping collars and cravats, gold medallions nestling in a forest of chest hair, he was enough of a style icon to win Best Dressed Personality of 1970.

That same year Wyngarde – real name Cyril Goldbert – recorded his only album, a collection of spoken-word oddities produced by Vic Smith, who had engineered Honky Tonk Women for the Stones and went on to work with The Jam.

The single picked from the album by RCA, rather incredibly, was a track entitled Rape. I’m not joking.

With the probably exception of that track (which I have never heard – even YouTube has drawn the line there), the album, later re-released under the title When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head, is a hoot.

This track, Hippe And The Skinhead, is a reminder of his marvellously plummy voice. It gets much madder when Wyngarde – nicknamed Petunia Winegum in the acting community – starts singing (I use the term loosely) about ‘Billy The Queer’.

In real life, after the success of Department S and its sequel Jason King, Wyngarde’s career suffered a blow when he was convicted in 1975 of gross indecency with a crane driver in a public lavatory.

In a postscript that can only be described as bathos, before his death in 2018, he became friends with Morrissey.