Interview: The Guardian (22 April 1975)

This page reproduces some of Alan Ayckbourn's significant quotes from the interview.

Wooster Source

by Tom Sutcliffe

"Most musicals aren't very interesting dramatically, I've tried with Jeeves at least to make it dramatically viable. I said to Andrew [Loyd Webber], 'The only thing I can do is to write a book I could put on the stage if your music didn't happen to arrive in time. I've just got to write something that will work regardless and hope the music comes as a bonus. This might be the wrong way to go about it. It may be that the music's going to unbalance it. But I've tried mentally to include the music in what I was planning so it became part of the dramatic action"

"People have always failed to adapt Wodehouse successfully, even Wodehouse failed to do it, because he's a very evasive gentleman when you actually come down to it. Who the hell is Jeeves? I mean he's just a figure who says lines. Everyone's got an image of him, but to try to nail down the salient qualities of what he might look like, or even his age, is very difficult

"The difficult ones [songs] were the romantic ones. Andrew had already sewn up two very nice romantic songs when I came in on the project. But none of Wodehouse's characters is particularly romantic, although they get a bit gooey occasionally, sort of stuck on each other. Bertie's always horrified at the thought, he couldn't have any romantic numbers. He's the arch cynic, runs a mile from women. But writing these feeling numbers was very difficult, because you suddenly realised that everyone had written them already. June does in fact rhyme with moon. One suddenly realised why there were so many turtledoves around in lyrics. I managed to write a love song without the word love in it, by a sort of devious thing of my own. There's the curse of being pretentious that always seems to come over you soon as you start the old metres going; you're inclined to write 'O'er the hill.' Yet you're not even trying to write good poetry, because that demands much more careful listening."

"Next time, I want to instigate the project, be much more in control, write the book and the songs, or where I want the songs, and then go to Andrew and chew it up from there. I started a bit late on this one. Things had already been thought of.not in definite terms. But Andrew and Tim had been thinking about it for years. I had so many preconditions with Wodehouse: your own chaps are much more interesting. It's a good job in a way that I haven't been able to use the musical to try out new things in."