Walking on My Hands excerpt – The Husband, the Wife and the Stranger

Sayo Inaba and Adam Faith, in The Husband, the Wife and the Stranger. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an excerpt from Beth Porter’s autobiography, Walking on My Hands, Chapter 12, My Life in Comedy: Comedy in My Life, about her production of the drama:

The Husband, the Wife and the Stranger, BBC2 1986

“Waiting for me back in Birmingham was the chance to produce my first piece of drama. It was a studio piece based on an idea to adapt two Japanese stories by the actress who was to play the lead. I had no idea whether the head of department, Robin Midgley, had already explored the development of the piece, but I wasn’t shown any pre-existing material.

I did, of course, know that the stories had been filmed by one of my cinematic heroes, Akira Kurosawa as Rashomon. The premise is that a tale of love and betrayal is told from three separate points of view. The first challenge was to find a suitable writer. I fixed on the idea of asking Adrian Henri, one of the famer Liverpool poets whom I’d known for decades. It seemed to me that his sensibilities would be just the approach needed to confront the moral ambiguities of the premise as well as presenting the implied sex and violence without any prurient overtones.

I was delighted when Adrian agreed, and while he was writing I got on with finding a director. Robin suggested teaming up with Roger Graef, the brilliant American documentary maker who was keen to get into drama. But as much as I admired him, I wanted a safety net of a director whom I knew could juggle schedules, actors, and unforeseen trouble, should there be any. I really thought this would be a great opportunity to create a bonded company feel, and when Robin agreed to my suggestion that Andy Roberts take oversight of the music, I felt we were on the way.

I asked Gerry Mill who directed me so brilliantly in Howard Schuman’s Anxious Anne. He had a great reputation with actors and was familiar with the demands of drama. Because the whole project had been the idea of the Japanese actress, we were committed to her. So Gerry and I drew up independent lists of the two actors who’d complement each other on screen. On both our lists was Derrick O’Connor whom I’d appeared with all those years ago in the James O’Herlihy plays at The Bush Theatre. He was available and keen to be involved.

We wanted to try to get a name that audiences would recognise to raise the profile of a studio piece, and we hit on a great idea. At the time the ever-popular singer, Adam Faith, was appearing in the West End, having publicly declared he wanted to do more acting. He’d had a big success some years previously with his TV series Budgie. Both Gerry and I liked his open fresh-faced appeal which had the potential to turn a bit nasty. Whereas Derrick could do nasty in his sleep, but we knew he could also play the victim.

We went to see Adam’s play and took him out for a meal. Happily, he agreed to do Adrian’s play. Now, all we needed was the play! For whatever reason Adrian was stalling. Uh-oh!

Gerry and I set out for Liverpool as on a military mission. Come back with the script, lads, and don’t get caught by the enemy! Actually, it was a scene from a sit-com. I sat with Adrian talking through the next scene, and he set to work typing. As soon as he had a few pages, I’d take them to the next room for Gerry to read. On we went like that, through the night, till the script was ready.

Actually, it was bloody good! Adrian did know exactly what to do. I guest his reluctance was down to nerves and insecurity. Yes, folk, artists – even great ones – get insecure. It’s only despots who think they know everything. The trick is to acknowledge the vulnerability and work through it, trusting your instincts and experience.

Gerry was terrific with the cast, allowing them the space they needed to inhabit the characters. The crew were keen to enter into the spirit of this unusual studio piece. I was keen to incorporate some of the more recent digital effects that were being developed for cinema, and Gerry trusted me to liaise with the editor to ensure our vision was melded with Adrian’s. We also had the bonus of Andy Roberts in control of the music.

We got lots of publicity, mostly due to Adam’s presence. The Radio Times devoted a full page to him. The half-hour play went out at 10.15pm on BBC2 on Monday, 8 September 1986. We got lots of feedback. And I was probably having a mini-breakdown trying to adust to life as a reluctant singleton. An ageing reluctant singleton. An overweight ageing reluctant singleton.”

 

Thanks to the producer of the drama, Beth Porter, for sharing this excerpt.

Beth Porter’s (long and amusing) autobiography Walking on my Hands, is available for a couple of pounds on Kindle, on the link below. Chapter 12 includes Beth’s adventures with the BBC.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-My-Hands-responsibility-Streisand-ebook/dp/B01DUWNSRQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1460027101&sr=8-3&keywords=kindle+Beth+Porter

 

Below is the Radio Times entry for the drama, from the BBC Genome project:

http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/a0ac4ec29e33434fb1ad17ff13426474

“The Husband, the Wife and the Stranger

by ADRIAN HENRI after a story by RYUNOSUKE AKUTAGAWA
Sunlight. Strawberries. Champagne. The perfect lover’s tryst. Or is it?
A stranger intrudes. A mysterious business deal.
Passions run high and a man dies. Who is innocent and who is telling the truth? Who do you believe?
Vision control supervisor PETER HODGES
Lighting supervisor ALEC ROBSON
Composers ANDY ROBERTS, JOJI HIROTA Designer MICHAEL EDWARDS Producer BETH PORTER Director GERRY MILL BBC Pebble Mill
Contributors

Author: Adrian Henri
Director: Gerry Mill
Producer: Beth Porter
From Stories By: Ryunosuke Akutagawa: The Roshomon Gate
Vision Control Supervisor: Peter Hodges
Lighting Supervisor: Alec Robson
Musical Supervisor/Composer: Andy Roberts
Designer: Michael Edwards
Husband: Adam Faith
Wife: Sayo Inaba
Stranger: Derrick O’Connor”

 

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Faith in his future

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Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Radio Times interview with Adam Faith, talking to Gay Search, about his role in Pebble Mill’s The Husband, the Wife and the Stranger which went out in September 1986.

The drama was written by Adrian Henri, from a story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Peter Hodges was the vision control supervisor, Alec Robson the lighting supervisor, Michael Edwards the production designer, and Gerry Mill the director.

Thanks to the producer of the drama, Beth Porter, for sharing the article.

Beth Porter’s (long and amusing) autobiography Walking on my Hands, is available for a couple of pounds on Kindle, on the link below. Chapter 12 includes Beth’s adventures with the BBC.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-My-Hands-responsibility-Streisand-ebook/dp/B01DUWNSRQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1460027101&sr=8-3&keywords=kindle+Beth+Porter

The following comment was added on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Winnie O’Brien: ‘I worked on this drama, I did the opening title sequence and graphics, it was a fabulous project.’

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The Husband, the Wife and the Stranger, Radio Times

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Below is the entry from the Radio Times for 1986 drama The Husband, the Wife and the Stranger, from the BBC Genome project: http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/a0ac4ec29e33434fb1ad17ff13426474

‘Synopsis:

by ADRIAN HENRI after a story by RYUNOSUKE AKUTAGAWA
Sunlight. Strawberries. Champagne. The perfect lover’s tryst. Or is it?
A stranger intrudes. A mysterious business deal.
Passions run high and a man dies. Who is innocent and who is telling the truth? Who do you believe?
Vision control supervisor PETER HODGES
Lighting supervisor ALEC ROBSON
Composers ANDY ROBERTS, JOJI HIROTA Designer MICHAEL EDWARDS Producer BETH PORTER Director GERRY MILL BBC Pebble Mill

 

Contributors

Author: Adrian Henri
Director: Gerry Mill
Producer: Beth Porter
From Stories By: Ryunosuke Akutagawa: The Roshomon Gate
Vision Control Supervisor: Peter Hodges
Lighting Supervisor: Alec Robson
Musical Supervisor/Composer: Andy Roberts
Designer: Michael Edwards
Husband: Adam Faith
Wife: Sayo Inaba
Stranger: Derrick O’Connor’

Thanks to the producer of the drama, Beth Porter, for sharing her Radio Times copy.

Beth Porter’s (long and amusing) autobiography Walking on my Hands, is available for a couple of pounds on Kindle, on the link below. Chapter 12 includes Beth’s adventures with the BBC.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-My-Hands-responsibility-Streisand-ebook/dp/B01DUWNSRQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1460027101&sr=8-3&keywords=kindle+Beth+Porter

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Peter Vaughan 1923-2016

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

You and Me and Him. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The character actor, Peter Vaughan, died today (6th Dec 2016) aged 93. He is perhaps best known for his role as Harry Grout, in Porridge, although many people will recognise him as Maester Aemon in Game of Thrones. Vaughan also played the role of Coster, in the 1973 Pebble Mill  Thirty Minute Theatre: You and Me and Him. It was written by David Mercer, and directed by Barry Hanson. David Rose was the producer, and the production designer was Michael Edwards.

Thanks to Ian Collins for making the screen grab available.

Ironically, I was only messaging director Paul Vanezis last night about You and Me and Him, and he told me the following story about how he saved the TX tape:

“I found the tape in the basement [of Pebble Mill] in 1990; the spool number had been changed, but it was the original TX tape. It still had the VT card inside. John Lannin edited it and Tony Rayner was his assistant. I think they kept it because it was a very complex show to edit. I recall that it had written in red biro on the card 283 edits!!! That would have been a a lot for 1973. It had also been copied for the BFI in 1975, but then sent to be wiped, hence the VT guys intercepting it and changing the number so it couldn’t be wiped. When I found the tape I sent it to Windmill Road, but only when they promised to keep it safe.”

Fortunately the programme does still exist in the archive.

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Wendy Critchlow: ‘I remember watching this and Steve talking about the work that had gone into it in VT.’

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Oliver Twist

Photo by Neil Wigley, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Neil Wigley, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This publicity still is from the 12 part 1985 BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, which was a London production, hosted at Pebble Mill. The series was directed by Gareth Davies, and produced by Terence Dicks. Alexander Baron was the script writer, with Brian Wright the script editor. Bob Chaplin was the lighting director, Michael Edwards was the production designer, Al Barnett the costume designer and Alastair Askham the sound supervisor, with Mike Bloore the VT editor.

Ben Rodska played Oliver Twist, with Eric Porter as Fagin, and Michael Attwell as Bill Sikes.

Thanks to the BBC Drama Village for making the photo available.

The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Page:

Terry Powell: ‘Great show I looked after a young actor playing Olive who now is a pilot for Easy Jet with 2 grown up kids – time does fly’

Carole Haysom: ‘Make up assistant Carole Haysom……Made up Eric Porter, in fact I still have his Fagin teeth’

Carol Churchill: ‘Makeup designer was Susie Bancroft’