Tom the Peeper

By Olivia Preston

Voyeurs and Peeping Toms have, for all the wrong reasons caught the attention of artists and filmmakers throughout history. The social phenomenon of spying on an unbeknownst individual is illegal now, but has inspired scores of creative arts, from music and art to film and television. The list below looks at Peeping Tom folklore, scopophilic oglers and inspiration for creatives in society.

Lady Godiva – 1949

“Peeping Tom” originates from later versions of this legend, in which a man named Thomas watched her ride and was struck blind or dead.

In Coventry stands the majestic Lady Godiva statue, that was built in 1949. The bronze figure stands proudly in the town centre as a tribute to the Countess of Mercia famous for, allegedly, riding on horseback naked through the West Midlands to garner favour from its people.

During the 13th century, she rode naked—covered only in her long hair—through the streets of Coventry to end the oppressive taxation that her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia had imposed on his tenants.

From the urban legend, all forms of creatives have used Peeping Toms for inspiration from art and music to film and television.

Peeping Tom – 1960

Directed by Michael Powell, Peeping Tom looks at the life of Mark (Karlheinz Böhm) a psychologically ill film-maker who murders women and records their dying moments. His neighbour, Helen (Anna Massey), becomes curious about his documentaries and watches one of them secretly and naturally is horrified by what she sees — especially when Mark catches her.

Looking down eerily quiet corridors or main

Peeping Tom- 1965

Cole was known for his Impressionist style and had a great love for the work of 19th-century salon painters. He often painted scenes of daily life, portraits and interior scenes, however Peeping Tom shows a more voyeuristic, hidden moment.

The engraver and etcher created an oil painting showing a man peering from behind bushes to look into a naked women’s bedroom window. The subtle brushstrokes tell a story on the canvas, a more secretive story that is intimate and quiet.

Peeping Tom – 2006

This band formed in American in 2000 and was an electronic rock group, led by Mike Patton. In 2006, their single”Mojo” reached top 40 in the United State’s alternative charts. ???

Inspired by director Michael Powell’s 1960 cult thriller of the same name, the band collaborated with various artists including  Norah Jones, Massive Attack, and Kool Keith to create a record that flirts with the esoteric while remaining accessible.

Also inspired by the voyeuristic phenomenon was the funk song “Tom The Pepper” by Act 1. The soul song was released Spring record label in 1973 and produced by Reaford & Gerald and talks about the local ‘peeper’ and his antics.

This Country – 2017

Television has given us various references to ‘Peeping Toms’, for a final vingette of peepers in pop culture is the Cotswold’s very own voyeur, Martin Mucklowe from This Country.

The BBC mockumentary started in 2017 and since has won BAFTAs and a Royal Television Award. This outstanding follows the lives of two young people living in a small village in the Cotswolds, Kerry (Daisy May Cooper) and Lee ‘Kurtan’ Mucklowe (Charlie Cooper). The accused Peeping Tom in this comedy is Martin Mucklowe (Paul. Cooper), Kerry’s father who is said to have ‘peeped’ in the “60s,70s, 80s on Kerry’s auntie Linda”.

From a little peek through the sliver of open curtain, human nature and nosey behaviour has inspired creativity in many mediums.

If you liked this article, why not check out Pooka See Me?