Robert Baden-Powell's handbook Scouting for Boys, written in 1908, may be largely forgotten today, but it is one of the most influential and best-selling books of all time. In the 20th century, only the Bible, the Koran and the Thoughts of Chairman Mao sold more. But they had fewer jokes, no pictures and were useless at important stuff like tying knots.
In this entertaining and affectionate film, Ian Hislop uncovers the story behind the book which kick-started the Scout Movement - a work which is very eccentric, very Edwardian and very British.
Ian discovers that the book is actually very radical and addresses all sorts of issues that we think of as modern, such as citizenship, disaffected youth and social responsibility. He explores the maverick brilliance of Baden-Powell, a national celebrity after his heroism in the Boer War, and considers the book's candid focus on health and wellbeing - from the importance of what Baden-Powell called a 'daily rear' to his infamous warning on the dangers of masturbation.
Contributors include his grandson Lord Baden-Powell, minister for culture and former cub scout David Lammy, biographer Tim Jeal and Elleke Boehmer, editor of the re-issue of the original Scouting for Boys