Back in 2015, about an hour after I sent Addlands to Clare Alexander (estimable agent), a friend named Josh Hyams (estimable producer) phoned to talk about an idea. This struck me as a good sign; I listened, was involved at once. The idea revolved around the early life of Richard Jenkins, who, over about two years during WW2, transformed from a no-good boyo working in the Co-Op in Taibach, Port Talbot, to a student at Oxford by the name of Richard Burton, already appearing on the West End stage. Josh and I read and conferred and visited and made up reasons to enter houses in Port Talbot. We drafted many, many times – I have about 200 versions on my computer – and slowly became more and more drawn to Philip Burton, the teacher who brought about the transformation and, ultimately, gave Richard his name.
The thing I remember best about our first conversation was Josh telling me quite how fast it was to write a screenplay, as against a novel.
Hmm. Anyway, nine years later, it looks as if we’re nearly there. As this article in Deadline explains, Mr Burton is due to be filmed this spring, directed by Marc Evans, with Toby Jones as Philip Burton, Lesley Manville as Philip’s landlady/ confidante Ma Smith, and Aimee-Ffion Edwards and Aneurin Barnard as Cis and Elfed: Richard’s sister and brother-in-law. This is a dream cast, as doesn’t need saying. More soon, and let’s hope it happens!