Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Year of the Sex Olympics, The (1968)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In the near future, society is split into two strata: The 'low-drives' make up the zombie-like majority, mentally anaesthetized by an incessant diet of television, largely consisting of pornography. This includes Artsex and Sportsex, in which grinning 'athletes' attempt to win trophies such as the 'Casanova Cup' and thereby qualify for the Sex Olympics.

Television, and by extension the masses, is controlled by the 'high-drives', an educated class who remain servile through their perpetual quest for better ratings and audience subjugation. However, it is becoming clear that the low-drives are growing uninterested in the dross which has been served them for so long. Realising a new kind of programme has become necessary to maintain the public's attention, Co-ordinator Ugo Priest turns to comedy, but old fashioned slapstick fails. Yet audience reaction soars sky-high when an accidental death is screened live, and a new concept emerges: reality television. Encouraged by his heartless, ambitious subordinates, Priest resolves to place a group of volunteers in a remote house where their every move will be monitored as they fight, fall in love and fend for themselves.

Meanwhile, high-drive Nat Mender is growing disillusioned with society and resents the fact that he is forbidden to grow too attached to his lover, Deanie Webb. Along with their child, they become the first participants on Priest's 'Live Life Show'. After a difficult start to the experiment, the family begin to adjust to an existence divorced from society, meeting other outsiders and relishing their liberty. The low-drives become captivated by the show but Mender's child falls ill and dies. Shortly afterwards, Deanie is murdered by a crazed outsider, introduced by television executives to add interest to the programme. Furious and distraught, Mender kills him, with viewers finding these uncensored, harrowing scenes gripping and completely hilarious. The Live Life Show is deemed a triumph.

More such programming is promised, but recognising the insanity of the situation, Priest has become half-mad, and usurped by a younger executive, he is left to reflect that despite his torment, Nat Mender is at least fully alive.