The pleasures and problems involved in adapting novels for the screen
Presented by Andrew Davies (Honorary Professor in the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies) in HO52 (Humanities Building) on Tuesday 12 October, 6.30pm.
Local screenwriter, and Honorary Professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Performance Studies at the University of Warwick, Andrew Davies will be conducting occasional workshops and talks on his writing at the University of Warwick.
Andrew, who lives in Kenilworth, is a unique figure in the history of broadcasting as he is the first writer to achieve significant recognition for adaptation of classic texts. Additionally, his dramatizations have stimulated and introduced new generations to the pleasures of reading texts they may not have considered reading before. Although he has won distinction for his original compositions, it his Andrew’s consummate skill in the serialisation and interpretation of classic and more recent texts for television that has brought him most acclaim. Although remaining faithful to the original text he often enhances it with a new perspective; and when adapting inferior texts, he is capable of major improvement on the source material.
Over the last thirty years Andrew has emerged as one of British television’s most prolific writers and adapters. His adaptations of Middlemarch and the ‘wet shirt’ version of Pride and Prejudice, in particular, have been credited with a revival of interest in television adaptations of classic novels and his name has become a guarantee of quality, controversy and craftsmanship.
Vanity Fair, Daniel Deronda, Doctor Zhivago, Anglo Saxon Attitudes and Wives and Daughters are just a few of Andrew’s recent adaptations. His ability to provide an original, even idiosyncratic take on the material he adapts has been the hallmark of his dramatizations. He has also introduced highly theatrical techniques into his adaptations. In House of Cards and To Play the King he successfully introduced the technique of direct address to the camera, a device also used in his recent Trollope adaptation, He Knew He Was Right.
Andrew has also created many original works for television, including the cult series A Very Peculiar Practice, while his recent retelling of Othello, set in New Scotland Yard, reframed Othello as the first black commissioner of the London Metropolitan police. He has written as well as for theatre and radio. His plays Rose and Prin have both been performed in the West End and on Broadway, with Glenda Jackson in the title role of Rose. His feature film screenplays include Bridget Jones’s Diary and Circle of Friends. He has also published several novels and a collection of short stories. He is currently adapting Bleak House for BBC Television.
Among the numerous awards that Andrew has won include: an Emmy, several BAFTA awards, three Writers Guild awards, three Broadcasting Press awards, and a Monte Carlo Television Festival award. He was also nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America award and a British Academy award in 2001. His unique qualities have also been recognized by a television documentary devoted exclusively to his work. A number of academic institutions, including the University of Warwick, have also recognized the significance of his work through the award of honorary doctorates.