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William Ivory

March 2011

HE may not have walked away with a BAFTA but William Ivory left with a head full of stories from last month’s ceremony, where his screenplay for Made In Dagenham had earned him a nomination.
“My wife can’t stand actors so I’d taken my daughter,” says the Southwell-born writer.
“She had her make-up done in the Savoy where all the actors go before the ceremony. She’s 16 and she loved it. Then we went to the do and she was spotting all these people that she recognised. Because she was getting excited, I was getting excited.
“We didn’t win which was a shame but I was ready for that and we went over to The Grosvenor for the party where Squeeze were playing. She didn’t know who they were but I loved it.
“We’d been given these wristbands for a Paramount party but we didn’t know where it was. Then we saw Gemma Arterton and asked her. We found it and there was Julianne Moore walking past. Then I was talking to this pretty young girl for a while about DH Lawrence and stuff. To be honest I thought she was one tin short of a four pack because I think she thought Lawrence was still alive and writing movies.
“Afterwards my daughter went ‘ that was Jessica Alba!’,” he laughs.
“I hadn’t got a clue.”
Next, father and daughter met Tilda Swinton, the Oscar-winning star of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Michael Clayton.
“My daughter, Tilly, is named after her and she was lovely to her. It was a great night. The only bit of the evening I didn’t like was when I saw Tilly smiling at this ginger haired youth across the room. I said to her ‘you can stop that’ and she said ‘it’s Rupert Grint, I think he likes me’.
“I said ‘well if he comes over here with his magic wand we’re going’”.
The success of Made In Dagenham, the story of female workers who downed tools at the Ford factory in Dagenham in their battle for equal pay, starring Jaime Winstone, Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins, raised Ivory’s profile and he’s since been offered a number of film projects.
“It was received really well which was really gratifying and there have been three or four things come in but most of them were dreadful,” he says.
“On the other hand I’m thinking it’s great that people want to work with me and it would be nice to be able to pay the mortgage for the next few months. But I know with the way I write that unless I actually have a real interest in it I’m knackered.”
He adds: “I do have my next film lined up which I cannot talk about at the moment.
“I’ve always wanted to say that,” he laughs.
It’s a feature film. He’s also two TV projects he hopes to finally get made.
“One of them, called The God Of Nottingham, I’ve been working on for nine years now.”
He’s also hoping to do stage a play at Nottingham Playhouse.
But that’s not why he’ll be at ScreenLit this weekend.

That’s for his new adaptation of DH Lawrence’s Women In Love. It will be screened at Broadway on Sunday, after which he’ll discuss the two-part drama, the first of which was screened on BBC4 last night. It stars Rosamund Pike, Rachael Stirling, Rory Kinnear and Joseph Mawle and is based on two novels by Lawrence, The Rainbow and Women In Love, which the Eastwood writer originally intended to publish as one. Ivory has melded the books together in line with Lawrence's original vision.
“I think Women In Love is the single greatest modern novel in the English language,” says Ivory, who was approached about the idea six years ago.
“I thought adapting the work of another writer was cheating. But I’ve always loved Lawrence as a writer. He wore his heart on his sleeve and therefore left himself exposed to the easiest (and most cruel) forms of criticism.
“That he is still so revered and so reviled in equal measure is indicative of the passionate, unapologetic approach he brought to his work. You might like him, you might not. He didn't really care.”
Ivory joined the cast for filming in South Africa last year.
“It had it’s moments. We had to shift baboons off a lawn before we could film. You don’t get many of them in Eastwood.
“And the some of the local crew would hire a boat at lunchtimes, throw a load of meat over the side to attract sharks, jump in to a cage and be lowered in to the middle of these sharks. That was their idea of a bit of fun. They were nuts. It was like working with Action Man.”
This year’s ScreenLit, which runs from Sunday to Wednesday, celebrates writing for British television. No-one locally knows that world better than Ivory.
After appearing as Eddie Ramsden in Coronation Street, he wrote Journey To Knock, the TV drama about his mother, starring John Hurt and David Thewlis. Then there were episodes of Minder and the award-winning Common as Muck, starring Edward Woodward, The Sins, starring Pete Postlethwaite, Faith; A Thing Called Love, starring Paul Nichols and Liz White, and war-based drama, Night Flight.
“I love doing feature films and plays but telly is where I feel happiest and where I get to extend myself the most,” he says.
And that’s despite its reputation in the industry:
“Dennis Potter said ‘if you say you’re a writer it’s fine, if you say you’re a television writer it’s like putting the word ‘processed’ in front of ‘cheese’”, he laughs.
And whenever possible he writes about Nottingham amd its people.
“And I’ll continue to do so until I get a blue plaque.”

William Ivory will be discussing Women In Love with director Miranda Bowen and Peter Preston, founder of the DH Lawrence Research Centre, at Broadway on Sunday after the screening at 1pm. For tickets call 0115 952 6611

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