Of Volcanos and Baldrick; Dojo Films; Beckett, Clegg and Coleridge.


It’s a rainy day on Long Island, I got back here last week, after being stuck ” under the volcano ” in Britain for a week. It was irritating at the time. But, in fact, it worked out well. It gave me a few more days at home and enabled me to attend a meeting about a television documentary I am co-producing with my chum Stephen Hopkins, a man of wry humour and vast experience as far as TV is concerned, having been a producer at Granada in its heyday. TV looks a good bet at a time when the publishing/magazine industry is on its backside. And thankfully in Britain there is still a place for well-made, intelligent programming. As Steve is into Zen Buddhism we have chosen Dojo Films as our company name. At a meeting in London a few weeks, ” national treasure “, Tony Robinson, the actor formerly known as Baldrick ( from Blackadder) and now one of the UK’s top TV presenters, very graciously agreed to front the documentary we have created. I knew Tony way back when in Bristol, in the early pleistocene – I mean, the late 60’s – when he was working for a theatre company called Avon Touring and I, recently graduated from Bristol University, was trying to make it as a playwright ( If I tell you that the project I was working on at that time was a wildly obscure drama called Esteesee, about the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s scheme to found an Utopian communtiy, The Pantisocracy ( !), on the banks of the Susquehanna River, accompanied by William Wordsworth, Robert Southey and a motley crew of other young dreamers, male and female – Ah, the follies of youth ! – you will perhaps appreciate why my career in the theatre was short-lived). It’s nice to see the wheel turn full circle and that, after all these years, TR and I may end up working together again. If things go according to plan, we will go into production in the autumn. I will write & research the story and take a co-producer credit. A second production is already being planned.
Sadly, I will miss the British election – I will be voting by proxy in my local, Hereford constituency – but will be watching it here on BBC America. My points out of 10 for the three candidates at the last TV debate are: Cameron 8, Clegg 8, Brown 4. There was a very good piece in the Guardian today by Charlie Brooker about how disastrously awkward and ill at ease Gordon Brown is with real people – as opposed to Whitehall politicos and statistics. Which is just one reason why he is going to be punished by the electorate. People feel sorry for him – the loss of sight in one eye, the awkwardness etc. But everything I have read about him suggests he is a Whitehall Neanderthal of the worst sort: a nasty, ill-tempered, overbearing, bullying person who has been obsessed with gaining political power since he was a student at Edinburgh University in the late 60’s and will push anyone, friend or foe, under the bus if they get in his way. Personally, I think he belongs in a clinic not at No. 10 Downing Street. I simply don’t trust anyone who wants it that much. So it’s Nick Clegg for me. Anyone who says his hero is Samuel Becket gets my vote.
My own hero ? It’s another Samuel, the one I mentioned above: Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *