This is a short film of the title story from my collection. We filmed it with 20 willing volunteers at Liverpool St Station a few years back. This was a very different experience to the story, as everyone seemed to get hooked on cuddling after the first few nervous sessions. By the end of the day the grinning cuddlers wouldn't go home, and were sad when they grabbed their goodbye hugs. Andy did a great job editing the footage into a moving film, incorporating the embrace sculpture at St Pancras. It did well at festivals and made it into the top 20 TCM shorts.
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Alan Simpson and Ray Galton signing books after Q+A session
I went along to this sold out event on a sentimental journey as I interviewed Ray and Alan when I was an art student in the mid seventies. At that time I wasn't sure wether I wanted to write or make art and it was an influential meeting. I'd got a stack of Hancock records and knew a few scripts off by heart. So I when I rang their Brook St office and Ray answered the phone I was a bit nervous, but he invited me to tea and they were very kind. For all they'd achieved, over 150 Hancock episodes and Steptoe etc, they were modest men, compared to the fragile ego artists who were role models at the Royal College of Art where I was studying. Coincidentally, their office was decorated by abstract paintings used in 'The Rebel' and when I asked about them they were fairly off hand as if they had no where else to put them and didn't want to dump them as they cost good money. I asked who painted them, and they scratched their heads as Ray said,'what was that blokes name, you know, he teaches at the Royal College of Art, mm, Al, Alistair Grant.' He was my head of department. I later mentioned to Alistair seeing some of his work in Mayfair. He smiled, but when I said they were 'Rebel' paintings at Galton and Simpson's he changed the subject. But, he was a nice man.
Anyway, the reading of 'The Day Off' was remarkable, mainly because it stood up well, some of it resonated strongly with today and it had the hallmark of a Hancock script. Written in the sixties it was rescued from a rusty filing cabinet in Ray's cellar. Rejected by Hancock after 'The Rebel', the script was never read or looked at again until their biographer asked to see it. Tom Goodman Hill was excellent as Hancock, his voice was perfect with great timing, often milked with the live audience lapping it up. So it was well worth queuing for a returned ticket and the discussion after showed the intimacy and good humour between G+S.
'How has you relationship developed since you stopped writing?' someone asked.
'Well,' Simpson looked up. 'He helps me up the stairs and I tell him what day it is.'
Modest, self effacing comedy giants with the audience in the palm of their hand.
One last note - Emma Kennedy asked them about Harry H Corbett who was a member of the labour party. Harold Wilson prime minister, was a keen fan of Steptoe and promised Harry H Corbett an MBE in the new year honours, and when he saw him a few months later he assured him all the bureaucracy had been dealt with and to prepare himself. Unfortunately, the civil servant who dealt with it omitted the H in Harry H Corbett when making the listings, so Sooty was very happy. Alan assured Emma this was true and we shook our heads in disbelief at misdirected honours. I guess that's what a lot of people were thinking with the endless entertainment awards and american aspirations contemporary comedy starts and writers have.
Thanks to Ray and Alan, such distinguished gentleman.
'Ray Galton & Alan Simpson - The Masters of Sitcom compiled by Christopher Stevens
A good comedy study book to trace their development through script extracts, with amusing anecdotes.