Kenilworth-based screenwriter backs Observer campaign - The Leamington Observer

Kenilworth-based screenwriter backs Observer campaign

Leamington Editorial 18th Nov, 2017   0

By Steve Chilton

ANDREW Davies, the Kenilworth-based screenwriter, found international fame and fortune reworking classic novels for period drama TV, is backing a bid to save George Eliot’s former Coventry home.

His acclaimed work for the BBC 1995 epic series Pride and Prejudice, featuring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, and Eliot’s Middlemarch for the BBC the previous year.

But he needed just one word to sum up our sister paper The Coventry Observer’s campaign ‘Bring George Eliot Home’ – “Brilliant!”




The Bafta-winning writer is a huge fan of the Victorian novelist and revealed he owes her a massive debt.

He said: “I first read Middlemarch at university and later taught it at Warwick University. I was very glad to have the chance to adapt it for television.


“MIddlemarch sort of launched my career as an interpreter of classic novels.

“I followed it up with Pride and Prejudice. But I have always been very grateful to George Eliot.”

After hearing of the Observer campaign’s proposal to turn the author’s forgotten Coventry home into an attraction for international visitors and suitable educational and cultural activities, he couldn’t contain his delight.

“It’s a brilliant idea and could tie in with Coventry’s City of Culture ambitions. I am very much in favour and give it my full support.”

Like many observers of Coventry’s cultural heritage he is puzzled by its seeming reluctance to shout about its famous literary sons and daughters.

And at the very top of the A-list of overlooked stars he would put Mary Anne Evans, who as George Eliot championed social change and broke down barriers for women writers.

“I would put MIddlemarch as one of the contenders for the greatest English novel of all time,” he said.

“But I have a soft spot for Mill on the Floss too.”

Davies, whose own writing career began with children’s books while a lecturer at Canley Teacher Training College, later absorbed into Warwick University, shows no sign of slowing down despite recently celebrating his 81st birthday.

His prolific screen output includes House of Cards, A Very Peculiar Practice, Brideshead Revisited, Bridget Jones’ Diary and War and Peace.

He recently put the finishing touches to a TV screenplay of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and expects filming to begin in January.

And he now has the daunting task of adapting the best-seller A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth, one of the longest novels ever at 1,349 pages.

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