I’m in the front room of Hilary’s old house, which she is probably going to sell. All around the walls, on shelves, in boxes, cabinets and crates she has stashed a great archive of the papers of Lumiere & Son, the theatre company we ran together from 1972 to 1992 when the still Thatcherised Arts Council withdrew our grant in response to our failure to attract large audiences. The V&A want the archive so we’re meeting to determine if there are any items that should be retained by us for any reason.
“Would you want this sort of thing?” Hilary says, reaching for an old folder. She opens it up and I can see some foolscap scripts secured with black plastic spines. She holds up a script. On the cover it says “Lots – a television play by David Gale”. I am staggered. My eyes fill with tears. “Lots! Lots?! My God!”
It is necessary to scroll up to 1983. A man called Roger contacted me. He was a producer from the BBC, had seen some of Lumiere’s work and wondered whether I would like to write a play for television. I was pleased to take on the commission that would make me a household name and, after my agent had fixed things up, I sat down at my typewriter in an abandoned house on the edge of Bath, amongst other places, and began wondering what I might dramatise for the nation. Roger had said “Just let your imagination go, David.” Right, then. I was drawn to a couple of characters I had come up with for a 1979 Lumiere play called ‘Jean Pool’. Max Cope and Jean Pool were private detectives – Max tending to the terse and pragmatic and Jean abstractedly to the abstract. I thought I had a good thing going between them and so would revive them for TV.
Given that the tale I will unfold is of enormous personal significance – yet of little public moment – I think I will serialise it. It needs a bit of care and attention and I don’t want to try to get it all down in one go. Also Morrissey is on ‘Later’ and I want to see Vivienne Westwood on Jonathan Ross.