Be seeing you

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 by

Lark Rise to Candleford is a splendid period drama, which will be livening up Sunday nights on BBC1 from mid-January. And I’m just back from the press launch at London’s Soho Hotel.

Inevitably, though, the most interesting aspect of this production for me – which stars Julia Sawalha, Dawn French, Mark Heap, Ben Miles and millions of others – was the writer, Bill Gallagher. Back in the ’90s, he penned one of my favourite ever police dramas, Out of the Blue. Naturally I took a moment to collar him once the roundtables were done. 

A very nice chap he turned out to be. Clearly, still proud of that series, he lamented its early demise at the hands of incoming BBC1 Controller Michael Jackson. 

“What are you working on next?” I asked. “The Prisoner“. Oh, shit, I’d forgotten about that. And, yes, filming is about to begin on that show in a village location somewhere in Namibia. My assumption was they’re not going to revisit the iconography of the original series, and that seems to be broadly correct – although homage will be paid at various points. One episode features an antiques shop where a penny-farthing is among the clutter, another has a character signing off with, “Be seeing you”. Most interesting of all, though, in episode two (if I’ve remember this right) the new prisoner will flee to an “Escape World” theme park, which will have clear echoes of … the original Village.

From talking to him, Gallagher is clearly an aficionado of the original series, remembering fondly (if that’s the right word) how disturbing he found it. He told me Patrick McGoohan (whose current illness has precluded his involvement in this version) starred in a Kafka-esque German play called The Prisoner before commencing the series. A fact new to me.

He has, however, decided to remain undaunted by the expectation that will weigh down on the project. “Sod the internet”, he said.


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