A one off documentary looking at Alan Bennett’s life, using his diaries as a springboard, airs on BBC-2 on Christmas Eve at 8.00pm
At 82 Alan Bennett shows no signs of slowing down. Inspired by his acerbic and often hilarious diaries, this 60 minute film shows Bennett as he’s never been seen before: following him to New York, the scene of his early triumph in Beyond The Fringe, to accept an award from the city’s Public Library; to Shepherd’s Bush to record an episode of Private Passions for Radio 3 and open up about the importance of music in his life; to his local community-run library in Primrose Hill which, he despairs, some would rather see turned into a Pizza Hut; to the East Coast railway line, which he’d like to see renationalised, and the village in Yorkshire he calls home.
Intimate encounters, filmed over the course of a year, reveal a writer who is bemused by his own popularity and is still as angry and irreverent in his 80s as he was in his 20s. Bennett speaks about his relationship with his partner of 23 years, Rupert Thomas, describes a recent trip to his barber in Camden Town, and confesses that he’s always wanted to keep a donkey.
Leafing through private photographs he reflects on his modest beginnings and his enduring gratitude to a Welfare State that paid for his education and looked after his parents in their old age. With a satirical force that has never left him, Bennett also attacks the politics of today.
Alan Bennett’s Diaries is directed by Bafta and Emmy Award-winning director Adam Low, produced by Martin Rosenbaum for Lone Star Productions, and commissioned for BBC Two by Mark Bell, Head of Arts Commissioning BBC.