Interview: 20/20 (August 1989)

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

Scarborough Flair

by Steve Grant

"Because it was my fiftieth birthday in April we had most of the national press and six camera crews outside for the latest opening and we still only had 90 people in the next day! Maybe that's why I stay here [Scarborough]; everything's such a challenge and this place really is the end of the line. In winter you have to be an Eskimo with an ice axe just to find the front door. So I love them for just coming, you want to stand at the door with a kiss and a mug of punch and then send them home after the party with a good ghost story. That's what it's like for me; an event, a party. That's why it always has to be comedy and what can't be expressed in comedy can be left to someone else."

"I've never been comfortable working with stars. Mike's [Michael Gambon] a star now but he wasn't when we started together and he doesn't act like one. He mucks in. I've never had many run-ins in my time, but I did have a celebrated falling-out with Robert Morley during the first West End transfer of
How the Other Half Loves and maybe he was right; if I was getting him I was going to get his audience, so I might as well use him properly. But I don't know; I just never look after them properly. I think in all honesty that's why I've not worked with Peter Hall's new company in the West End. It wasn't really what I thought he had in mind, what with Vanessa and now Dustin Hoffman: which is all very well, they are great actors and obviously in a commercial set-up you have to pay the rent but I feel that the atmosphere in a 'one plus the rest' company isn't the sort I look for."

"One thing that does interest me now is writing for children again; I did
Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays last year which was quite fun and worked and now I'm doing my version of Saturday Morning Picture Club, because I think you have to really get children going, not just tell them jokes and yell at them for two hours. You have to scare them, intrigue them. I had this idea of maybe reworking some of my plays for a kids' audience; I had this idea of using the idea from Woman In Mind where she invents a whole dream family which finally takes over and transposing it to a young boy with an imaginary playmate. I had one called Tim. Now that would be a real cliff-hanger, wouldn't it?"