RAYMOND BRIGGS Raymond Briggs, creator of When the Wind Blows, talks to Richard Reece.
‘Panorama did a programme on nuclear war. I had some friends round at the time and one of them said, “There’s your next book Raymond." It was said as a joke really, because it wasn’t at all like what I’d done before, but somehow the idea stuck.‘
So says Raymond Briggs ofhis original inspiration to write When the Wind Blows, his best-selling cartoon tale of the Bloggs, a simple, retired English couple, and of how their comfortable rural existence is shattered when the bomb drops, and the wind of the title blows. Since it was written in 1982 the book has been adapted into an enormously successful radio play, a stage play and now a full-length, animated feature film, produced by John Coates, who was also responsible for the Oscar-nominated screen version of a previous Briggs work, The Snowman.
While Mr Briggs does not directly consider it when writing, it seems that his books are eminently suited for transformation to other media: ‘I tend to start a book by writing the words, so at first it looks very like a radio script. When it comes to drawing it you‘re concerned with keeping things fairly simple. You try to keep it to one person in each frame, or else you only have one facing you, so although I didn’t actually have a film in mind the book
is virtually a complete story-board. It seems to convert very well.‘
So he’s pleased with the final result?
‘It‘s marvellous. I‘m more excited every time I see it. The animation is marvellous, so is the drawing, and the acting, ifyou can call it that. If there were Oscars for doing the voices to animation I‘m sure John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft would be up for them.‘
The story obviously took him onto more overtly political ground than he had ever covered before. The horrific fate which overtakes the Bloggs, despite their naive acceptance of ‘Govern-mental‘ recommendations, provides a strong
condemnation of British nuclear policy. Was that how it was originally conceived?
‘No. People thought I did the book as propaganda. Lady Olga Maitland phoned me up in the early days and claimed that it was arrant propaganda for CND and I said no, that I wasn‘t even a member. At the time I wasn’t, but since reading all the leaﬂets and books, and seeing the facts, which I had to do when researching the book. I have joined CND, because it seems like a breath of sanity. . . The whole myth ofcivil defence is based on absolute nonsenseo.’
When The Wind Blows opens 0 Feb at the Cameo, Edinburgh and the A BC Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
SEE PAGE 15 FOB WHEN THE WIND BLOWS COMPETITION.
FIDELIS MORGAN Actress Fidelis Morgan talks to Sarah Hemming.
Mystery has invaded Scottish theatres this month. While Winged Horse at Edinburgh‘s Traverse are keeping the entire identity oftheir play a mystery. the Glasgow Citizens‘ have shrouded their adaptation ofAnna Karenina in a veil of secrecy — mischeviously tweaked aside long enough to allow Fidelis Morgan to emerge. Tolstoy's great heroine — played by Fidelis in some unusual form — is not the sort of role an actress lights on every day. It is the sort of role the (‘itizens‘ habitually offer. however. and this is what has constantly drawn Fidelis Morgan back to the (‘itizens‘.
Over the last ten years, despite living in London. she has frequently been seen here. in roles that have ranged from the bizarre to the magnificent (including a wonderfully memorable Elizabeth I in Maria Stuart). She returns each time with unabated enthusiasm.
‘It‘s the one place you can be certain of doing marvellous plays. There do seem to be more strong women‘s parts. but that's partly because they do a classical repertoire. They don‘t water it down with rubbish like Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat. which means the odds are on there being more good parts for women . . .Up here they throw the gauntlet at you and it's your job to pick it up and have a bash.‘
It is a challenge to which one
suspects she is more than equal. A woman of tremendous vivacity and wit. she talks with a clarity and determination that suggest vast reserves ofenergy. It has clearly always been there. Though she cannot remember first deciding to become an actress — ‘it was before I can remember existing‘ — she does have theatre programmes detailing her performances at age 2. ‘l’ve certainly got one programme called Pixie Pip and the Pirate Ship, written. directed by and starring me as everything — pirates. captain of the pirate ship and Pixie Pip!‘ Throughout a varied acting career, Fidelis has also found time to write several books — the least glorious perhaps being The Bluffer's Guide to Theatre. This came about by chance. ‘I met somebody who said “I‘ve never ever known what this word Brechtian means. Will you explain it?“ And I said. “It means you
The List 6 — 19 February 1