Today, I offer you a survey of Beryl’s work for TV and film, with as many links to clips as I can find…
During the early part of her career, Beryl was an actress. In 1961, she famously appeared in one episode of Coronation Street as the peace-protesting girlfriend of Ken Barlow. See BB in Corrie.
She wrote several plays/screenplays for the TV, notably one for the popular BBC strand of single dramas Play for Today called Tiptoe through the Tulips in 1976. Sadly none of these appear to be available to view clips of. Beryl’s IMDB page lists them all.
Three of Beryl’s novels have been adapted for the big screen. The screenplay for Sweet William, as I mentioned in my review of the novel yesterday, was written by Beryl herself, and the film was released in 1980.
This was followed in 1988 by other writers’ adaptations of The Dressmaker, starring Joan Plowright, Billie Whitelaw and Pete Postlethwaite, and in 1995 by An Awfully Big Adventure with Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant and newcomer Georgina Cates.
Cates originally auditioned under her real name for the role of Stella, but didn’t get it. So, she went home, dyed her hair red, thought up a new name and re-auditioned winning the part. I’ve only seen the last of the three films, and remember enjoying it, however it’s only available as an expensive import DVD at the moment; the other two not having any better availability either. However I can offer you the trailer (with American voice-over) for An Awfully Big Adventure if you click through to Beryl’s IMDB page, and scroll down a bit.
BBC2 Arena – Doctor Johnson’s Body Parts a short clip from the documentary According to Beryl, which accompanied the publication of her penultimate book According to Queeney about the last years of Dr Johnson.
Beryl was convinced she was going to die aged 71 – many of her family died at precisely that age. Her eldest grandson, Charlie Russell, made a documentary of her during that year (2007). I remember seeing it, and being fascinated by her. This clip is mostly of Charlie talking about the programme, but there are snippets from it in there.
P.S. Many thanks to Margaret at Books Please who found this wonderful archive programme from 1983 of Beryl talking to psychiatrist Anthony Clare. It shows how autobiographical her early novels are – in particular A Quiet Life. Click here to watch.