Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Perfectly '60s

This is a great '60s photograph of British broadcaster Joan Bakewell with Harold Pinter, probably from that pioneering BBC show LATE NIGHT LINE UP, on the new BBC channel BBC2 which was compulsive viewing back then. We only had 2 channels (and in black and white) here in England up until BBC2 arrived circa 1967 and it became the channel to watch, and had to wait until the early '80s for the 4th channel, the even more innovative Channel 4. This may seem hard to believe now with the endless plethora of channels available ....

LATE NIGHT LINE UP was quite an intellectual show and Bakewell was their leading interviewer. The '60s were a tricky time to be a woman in broadcasting: she was one of the pioneers; comedian Frank Muir could label her "the thinking man's crumpet" without fear of a backlash; as she interviewed writers and others, often twirling her pencil and wearing short op art dresses. (She also interviewed Bette Davis on stage that time I saw Bette at the National Film Theatre in 1972).

Bakewell has written about her long affair with Harold Pinter, when both were married to others - his wife was actress Vivien Merchant, who later committed suicide. Harold had by then married Antonia Fraser. His play BETRAYAL charts the affair with Bakewell, and is often revived. Bakewell's affair with Pinter ended in 1969 because the secret was getting out, but she and Pinter remained friends. She interestingly says such an affair would be impossible now with the plethora of mobile and cellphones, constant media intrusion as part of our celebrity culture, and people having to be available all the time. (probably also why Sarah Miles and Laurence Olivier were able to get away with their hotel trysts - as per my post on Sarah below).

Bakewell was made a Dame in 2008, has sat on numerous arts committees, was chairman of the British Film Institute, is a fully paid-up member of the great and the good as well as being a prospective national treasure. But she doesn't want to be defined by that either. "I'm a hack," she says, "a hack for hire by whoever will pay me, to do things I enjoy doing. I'm a journalist and a writer, and I'm often here and there on television. I've made some good programmes, and I've made programmes I believed in. These are all good things for me to do, but I haven't changed the course of history or been the first woman on the moon. I'm pleased with where I am and I'm pleased with what I'm doing, and the fact that I'm still doing, as opposed to just being, is quite important for me." Now in her late 70s she has taken to writing fiction (I must try her ALL THE NICE GIRLS) and has been a champion of older peoples' rights. Pinter died on 24 December 2008. He acted in Losey's ACCIDENT and in that version of Austen's MANSFIELD PARK as well as doing all those scripts (like THE SERVANT and that interesting thriller THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM) and of course all those other plays like THE HOMECOMING and THE CARETAKER, he also directed the film of BUTLEY.

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