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Charlie Nairn tells us about getting L. Ron Hubbard & Scientology on air in the 1960s

[L. Ron Hubbard bust, from 1967’s ‘A Faith for Sale’]

After we published some Scientology news clippings from 1960s London this week, we were delighted to hear from Charlie Nairn.

Charlie is the eminent documentarian who made two early films about Scientology for Granada TV’s World in Action program, and he told us we had a slight mixup.

We posted a 1967 news clipping that said that World in Action’s film about Scientology had been held up by a court injunction, which is true, Charlie tells us. What we got wrong was which of Charlie’s films was held up by the court filing.

It was his first movie about Scientology, “A Faith for Sale,” that Scientology managed to keep from being aired for a couple of weeks in 1967.

Charlie tells us that at the time, there was something in the air about new approaches to mental health, and along came this group from America selling what they said was a “new science of mental health.”


But after checking it out, Charlie says, he and his team realized there wasn’t any science going on at all, which is how they came up with their title.

“The Scientologists didn’t like that, and so they took out an injunction, which anyone could do. So while it was in court we couldn’t air it,” he told us by telephone from England this week. ‘

But once it was in court, he says, the Scientologists didn’t fare well at all.

“I was actually slightly embarrassed for them. They were hardly given the chance to speak when it was thrown out,” he remembers. “Our QC, a very eminent man, tore them to shreds. I almost felt sorry for them.”

After the short delay, the film aired. And you can see it today here…


Charlie says the controversy only made him more interested in the subject and the man behind it, L. Ron Hubbard. What happened next he told to Steve Cannane for his great book on Scientology, Fair Game.

Once again, here’s the wonderful excerpt from the book that we’ve posted previously, with Charlie’s account of meeting the Great Thetan himself…

At the time Hubbard was bouncing between Mediterranean ports aboard his ship the Royal Scotman. Nairn worked out through marine radio channels that Hubbard had dropped anchor in the Tunisian city of Bizerte. The World in Action crew hotfooted it to North Africa. When they arrived, Nairn headed straight for the docks. It was after midnight, and the filmmaker was alone. He looked up at the Scientology ship and saw the outline of an older man in a Captain’s hat smoking away. Nairn was sure it was Hubbard and decided to try his luck:

“I went up the gang-plank, up to the bridge. He was alone. I said, ‘Hello’. I made my excuses, told him that I wasn’t a Scientologist like all those sleeping innocently below but that I was a young film-maker fascinated by the process of inventing a religion. Immediately he seemed interested, intrigued – there was absolutely no whiff of a ‘what are you doing on my ship?’ response. I remember telling him about why I was interested in this – about my mother”

According to Nairn, Hubbard was undeterred by the provocative premise of his interest in him. He welcomed the conversation and the pair talked for over an hour. The filmmaker asked Hubbard why he invented Scientology. As around two hundred Scientologists slept in their bunks on the Royal Scotman, he gave Nairn an answer he could never have uttered if his followers were awake, “He said it started out purely as a way to make money,” says Nairn, “This did seem to me the most extraordinary and fascinating opening. There he was saying this – that the whole thing was just a ‘con’ – very simply – with two hundred, or whatever it was, Scientologists innocently asleep just below us.”

As the conversation developed, Hubbard told Nairn that making a buck was not the only motivating factor. “He did say that although the initial thing was money, he had also become fascinated by ‘catching’ people, especially clever people, at luring them in,” recalls Nairn, “I remember him saying it reminded him of fishing with his father. You cast out your line to fool a beautiful silvery fish – that was the whole fun of it – of tricking it and luring it in, deceiving it.”


Hubbard explained to Nairn that as a child, he and his father made fishing flies and lures together, experimenting with what would work, and what wouldn’t. According to Nairn, Hubbard said, “I never understood why a beautiful fish could be caught by a fake fly.” Hubbard was admitting his life’s work was, like fly-fishing, all about camouflage and deception. Hubbard mused about how intelligent people got caught up in Scientology. “I remember him specifically talking about two medical doctors, (who got involved in Scientology) as if they should have known better,” says Nairn. “I remember a sense of triumph from him over this idea – as if he felt some of his victims were maybe brighter than he was – but that they were needy, gullible – that he understood the human animal and its ‘needs’ – exploitable needs – backwards.”

But a sense of triumph was not all that Nairn got from Hubbard, “I also got a feeling of someone who didn’t actually seem to have much self-confidence, who was ‘boosted’ by the respect and reverence that people he thought more intelligent than he was were prepared to pay him. And I’d say there was a funny mixture of triumph over his victims but then, once caught, a lack of respect for them – and now I wonder if that was what he ultimately couldn’t stand – and so all those later stories of his towering rages…Did he kind of ‘hate’ his victims? I got that feeling pretty strongly.”

As their late night conversation continued on the bridge of the Royal Scotman, Nairn put forward his idea of why intelligent people were so easily conned. “It’s because you are filling up the god-shaped hole,” Nairn told him. It must have been a confronting conversation for Hubbard. A young upstart filmmaker turns up unannounced and wants to ask provocative questions about how he invented a religion and how he was conning all those sleeping below the decks. Nairn says at no point did Hubbard argue with him, or shout at him, or ask him to leave, “What he absolutely didn’t say is, ‘No, that’s not what I’m doing, you haven’t understood.’”

Charlie Nairn felt Hubbard wanted to keep talking about the very topic you would least expect him to want to discuss with a documentary maker. “He settled down, in relief I’d say, finally to be able to talk to someone about inventing a religion and conning people – and I’d now say the trap he found himself almost intolerably stuck in,” says Nairn.

A thought nagged away at the young filmmaker as Hubbard expanded on the theme, “I could well understand hopping into bed at night with one’s wife, rubbing one’s hands together and saying ‘we made $10,000 today dear’,” says Nairn, “but I couldn’t understand his own wife believing it all, believing in out-of body experiences and previous lives. I couldn’t imagine lying in bed with someone who ‘believed’ my con. And being surrounded all the time only by believers – all those people sleeping peacefully below us, all believing in him.” Nairn asked Hubbard whether he felt trapped. Whether his situation made him feel utterly lonely? “That’s when he said – very, very slowly and with a smile that I can remember still – that was the first interesting question he had been asked in 20 years.”

Nairn thought he had hit the jackpot. Not only had he tracked down the elusive Hubbard in a remote port, but he had got him to talk openly about the topic Nairn was so desperate to make a film about.

He asked Hubbard if he would be interviewed on camera. Hubbard agreed. Nairn went away and woke up his film crew. By the time they had returned it was around 3 am. But the mood, the entire scenario had shifted significantly. There were now around thirty Scientologists surrounding Hubbard. He could not repeat the kinds of things he had been so happy to talk about just hours earlier. “They were standing behind me, getting edgy if I pushed Hubbard,” says Nairn, “I did try asking him ‘the first interesting question I’ve been asked in 20 years’ again – but it didn’t work. He was back in front of the conned – so therefore back in his trap.”

Nairn could not replicate the frank and intimate conversation he had with Hubbard just hours earlier. The on-camera interview still provides extraordinary insights into the character of Hubbard. The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard is still quoted and used by journalists and documentary makers across the world. But over forty-five years later Nairn sees what he missed, not what he captured. “I’ve always hated the results because it was all a million miles from our conversation about dreaming up a religion and God-shaped holes of an hour earlier,” says Nairn. “Of course, thinking afterwards, he couldn’t possibly have said any of this in front of his disciples, could he? Thinking about it now, how could Hubbard have ever got away from the monster he created? What would have been in it for him to stand up and say he didn’t believe?”

The result of that encounter was Nairn’s second World in Action film about Scientology, “The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard.” Charlie tells us that Scientology didn’t try to put up an injunction against this film after the drubbing they’d received earlier. And you can see the film here…


We are so happy to hear from Charlie Nairn, and also to correct the record about which of his films was held up by injunction.

Hip, hip, hooray!



Technology Cocktail

“While fighting a cold front with Communism the US is violently co-operating with Communist aims by destroying her individual confidence and initiative with a Marxist tax reform. The basic principles of US income tax were taken from ‘Das Kapital’ and are aimed at destroying capitalism. Unless the US ceases to co-operate with this Red push, Communism could win in America. The reform of all income tax laws is needed for other reasons. (1) To increase government revenues in order to support defense. (2) To prevent spiraling inflation and another stock market collapse and (3) to return the US to the basic principles of democracy as opposed to economic tyranny. The following program should accomplish all desirable ends. The only ‘losers’ are the people now gaining tax bonuses and the Kremlin.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1959



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see


[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner


Source Code

“So you’ve got the other fellow’s universe and you got the physical universe. Now, the other fellow, in his universe, can cause you problems while communicating to you through the physical universe, and the physical universe itself can cause problems, and so we can get a thing called a present time problem that doesn’t have anything to do with a mental image picture. Doesn’t have anything to do with the reactive bank, but it can restimulate the reactive bank and make it harder to solve the present time problem. But a present time problem can actually exist. That’s one of the things that auditors don’t always notice.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 27, 1965


Avast, Ye Mateys

“CONGRATULATIONS to Bill Robertson and Nate Jessup on passing the Dianetic written examination 100 percent. Nate is the 3rd Staff student to pass the examination. Nobody on the ship part time course has taken the exam yet. You should quickly complete 3 times through the checksheet before your time expires so that if you miss out on the 100 percent you still have time to restudy and pass the exam within the 8 week period.” — Brian Livingston, July 27, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“If you’re a big enough Thetan and you stay on the bridge, you will be like floating, your postulates creating anything you desire pretty much and you will be completely protected from any other SP’s invalidation. It’s a mystery why in other planets Thetans can destroy all the people on them. I projected myself in full color from all around a planet and reached down and tortured all the people just before getting implanted and coming here. So there must be some sort of ‘protection’ around this planet so other Thetans can’t do that here – maybe a force screen? But still creating MEST out of thin air here is not possible and is a mystery as of yet.”



Past is Prologue

1998: More details about the warning shots fired by Bob Minton to trespassing Scientologists on his property in New Hampshire became available this week. “There were 2 visits by police, the first after the firing of the warning shots and all was OK with police except they suggested that a 911 call may be a better alternative. The 2nd visit was after dark about 30 minutes later, after the original single police officer responded when said 2nd officer heard another shotgun shell fired on or near my property. Both Stacy and me told the same story to different officers at the same time 200 feet apart that we did not fire the shotgun when the officer heard it. I was handcuffed because I was belligerent; firstly over the indignation of this hands up bullshit and secondly over being manhandled by the police. The police were doing their job to maintain their safety. My belligerence was clearly not helpful to the situation and I was handcuffed for it. The OSA trespassers said ‘Hi Stacy! How is it fucking Bob?’ I found this to be sufficiently over the top to leap out of the pool, run to the house and get my keys for the barn, open the barn, open my office, grab my shotgun, some shells and fire into 200 acres of hillside, at least 200 feet away from the OSA brown pants. Today, Sunday July 26, 1998, my wife Therese receives a hand delivered 6 page letter from Rinder in England attacking Stacy as a tramp who is fucking your husband; a woman who has sucked the life and money from a long list of men; and as a woman out to manipulate your husband to spend all the family money to attack Stacy’s arch enemy Scientology. Also, the letter included attacks on everyone I have helped, including according to Scientology, wife beaters, child molesters, whores and pornography editors. Four OSA picketers were there plus a PI named Middleton from NH. Mr. Middleton was hired by the Church of Scientology, on this occasion to video the picket. He has now twice confirmed his employment by the Church to the Sandown Police Chief. One of the OSA people asked Mr. Middleton to enter my property and video whoever and whatever was going on in the swimming pool. Mr. Middleton said he refused as he did not want any criminal trespass charge to mar his PI record in NH. Not only did he refuse to break the law, he left in his car. Only 4 OSA boys left so what do they do–they go ahead and break the law.”


Random Howdy

“The regs do all the fluffing in Scientology, but there are no happy endings. It’s all a tease.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.

David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing August 1.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Scientology trafficking case do-over: Both sides reload in light of ‘arbitration’ motions
[TWO years ago] A Scientology escape saga, which includes serving L. Ron Hubbard a bad meal
[THREE years ago] EXCLUSIVE: The real Tom Cruise — Leah Remini exposes Scientology’s biggest asset
[FOUR years ago] When your ex is into Scientology, a custody battle can get cosmically worse
[FIVE years ago] Why did a 26-year-old ‘Clear’ kill herself at Scientology’s spiritual mecca?
[SIX years ago] Derek Bloch on fighting Scientology ‘disconnection’ in an unaired TV series
[SEVEN years ago] How Scientology split up teen sweethearts who reunited more than 40 years later
[EIGHT years ago] A new look inside Scientology’s bomb-proof vaults, and a visit to Hubbard’s final rodeo
[NINE years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: The Nancy Cartwright countdown to godhood edition!
[TEN years ago] Jon Atack: A Case of Scientology Fair Game Deflected with Disinfecting Sunlight
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology’s Worlds Colliding: Bert Leahy and David Edgar Love Together in Oklahoma on August 25!
[TWELVE years ago] Tom Cruise Proves He Has a Sense of Humor, Signs Anti-Scientologist’s Guy Fawkes Mask


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,103 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,618 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,168 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,158 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,039 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,343 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,214 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,319 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,766 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,108 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,674 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,593 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,760 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,342 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,603 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,639 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,355 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,919 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,234 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,409 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,960 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,091 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,429 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,284 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,403 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,759 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,062 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,168 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,566 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,442 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,025 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,520 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,774 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,883 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 27, 2023 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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