Ever since he was a tiny eight- stone toddler, Robbie Coltrane has dreamed of gunning a Cadillac across the States. Meridian Television helped him fulfil that dream. In an extract from the book of the TV series, Robbie explains the fascination of the greatest thing ever to come out of Detroit.
There are only two choices for a man with a Cadillac obsession: go and give a shrink 50 quid an hour for the rest of his life. or get hold of a Caddy and drive it
from Los Angeles to New York. I’ve never been totally convinced by psychiatry. it was time to have a
I’ve always had an affinity with America and, like most Glaswegians, I was brought up with the faint suspicion that New York was just like Glasgow only more so.
Cars have been a fascination for me since I built the Coltrane Convertible out of Meccano at the age of ten. and l have been deconstructing and driving them ever since. The great advantage of rebuilding old cars compared to. say, collecting stamps or making matehstick models of Chartres Cathedral is that you can’t get on a Penny Black and cruise the Strip. This was an opportunity for me to enjoy my obsession and at the same time see what was left of American
culture before the whole l‘nion became a Theme Park. I've always had an affinity with America and. like most (ilaswegians. l was brought up with the faint suspicion that New York was just like Glasgow, only more so. My head was filled with the images of America I had collected from a lifetime of loving its movies. books and music. A 35(Xi-mile road crossing of the country would tell me if any of my American dreams were near the mark.
I‘d been dreaming about a journey like this since I was a wee boy. While other short corduroyed Scots lads were scoring the winning goal for Scotland in the World Cup final. or finding themselves trapped all night in the Tttnnocks Caramel Wafer factory (()h dearie me . . . ) l was gripping a steering wheel twice my size seemingly made out of the same stuff as Granny's false teeth while trying not to be dazzled by a dashboard like the Golden Mile at Blackpool (with an ashtray in the middle. of course). Mile after mile of two-lane blacktop was being sucked under the bonnet (or was I llying'.’). It always gave me strange feelings which i didn‘t come to understand until later.
The four-ton mean machine (and his car)
Like the ones you got on the beach when all the girls had very few clothes on.
Now. many years later. those nice television people had actually listettcdto my ramblings and the dream was about to become something more tangible. nay drivcable . . .
It was just after 3pm Pacific titnc on Sunday. October 18th as I llew in over the never-ending but always neat sprawl of(ireater l.os Angelcs. I felt lagged already (those free cocktails always lag one. non?) as we descended from the brilliant blue sky into heavy cloud which left the town looking a dull mud colottr that you never see on Baywatch. Somewhere down there in the geometrically irritating suburban mammoth that is Los Angeles was a person who held the key to my dream. All I had to do was find the key and the ignition it fitted. and we would be in business.
'lakwr/i'um ('a/lram' in a (‘ar/i/lat' by RUbbfl’ ('a/Iram' wit/1 (I'm/tam Smart (I’aarllt lis'talt' [9.99 paperback). T/lﬂ TV series begins on Scottish an Yimwlay 4 May.
_ TV Eyrelooms
Playwrights may occasionally be loath to admit it, but it’s a very different discipline writing for television than writing for the stage. There’s the size of the audience for a start, along with the obvious considerations of location shooting, close-ups and special effects possible on the small screen.
fairly firm demarcation lines between the theatre and TV. it’s not impossible to make an effective crossover as, notably, John McGrath and Alan Bleasdale have demonstrated, but it’s
That’s perhaps why there do tend to be
Scottish hardman Frankie Miller.
not as common as might be thought. liichard Eyre, Director of the Royal National Theatre and former Artistic
Director of the respected Nottingham Playhouse, is regarded nowadays primarily as a stage bigwig. in the 705 and early 80s however, he produced or directed some of the more left-field and memorable one-off television dramas, some of which are being repeated in a 8802 retrospective season.
If there’s a thematic connection between Eyre’s TV productions (and there probably isn’t) it’s his fascination with outsiders, rebels or mavericks kicking against society’s expectations of how they should behave.
The first play in the season is a suitably gritty production of Peter Mcnougail’s Just A Boy’s Game, directed by John McKenzie in 1979.
Frankie Miller plays Scottish hardman Jake Mcuuillen, trying to emulate the violent reputation of his grandfather. It’s a sharp and memorable mix of the personal and the political that is about as far away from the ‘luvvie’ image of the theatre as you can get. The other standout production, Past Caring, united Eyre with experienced TV hands Kenith Trodd and Tom Clarke to create a blackly comic tale of two old codgers, Denholm Elliott and Emlyn Williams, determined to grow old disgracefully in their retirement home. It’s a more stagey piece, but a fine example of how wordy, character- driven plays can translate effectively to television. (Tom Lappin) Just a Boy’s Game is on 3802 on Wednesday 5 May at 9.25pm.
72 The List 23 April—6 May 1993