Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Gormenghast



Crew Bios
Estelle Daniel, Producer | Christopher Hobbs, Production Designer
Andy Wilson, Director | Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Costume Designer



Andy Wilson
Director


Gormenghast director Andy Wilson first read Mervyn Peake's fantasy novels when he was 16. "My older brother had gone to university, and I was at home on my own for the first time, without somebody to play with, and this book came along," says Wilson. "I was there for two months, over a long summer holiday where we didn't go away. And every night I wanted to get back to Gormenghast. That's still the sort of magic that it has."

Like his hero, director Federico Fellini, Wilson began his career with an unlikely start in the circus, where he performed as a clown. "[The circus] was never my life. It was something I did because I stumbled upon it, but I think the things I learned about how you entertain an audience -- simply being funny -- have stayed with me. I do clown on set. Part of how I get people to work is by being funny to them so they're funny back."

Involved in the project from the outset, Wilson always saw Gormenghast as a television series rather than a movie. "Television is the perfect medium for it for two reasons," he explains. "Firstly, it is too long, and you couldn't possibly squeeze that entire story into a two-hour film; and secondly, television is character-driven. Here is an extraordinary gallery of characters almost without parallel in English literature. Mervyn Peake and his family had always felt that the BBC, with its tradition in classic drama, could bring things to it that no one else could."

Wilson knew the production was heading in the right direction when he and producer Estelle Daniel got together for their first design meeting. "I had found a painting by Max Ernst called The Entire City," recalls Wilson. "It looked Oriental, like some high-plains Chinese city, Lhasa or something. By coincidence Estelle had been in India with her husband. She brought back a picture of a Ladakhi monastery in the high plains of India. We both had the same idea."

Wilson knew that the production would require military precision. He had hundreds of minutely detailed storyboards created, outlining every shot and every camera angle he intended to film. More than a year and a half before the cameras were set to roll, he and Daniel were joined by production designer Christopher Hobbs, costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux, and director of photography Gavin Finney.

After studying drama at Birmingham University, Wilson worked as an actor for three years before establishing the Rational and the Hidden Grin Theatres, which are based in London and have toured extensively in the United Kingdom and Europe. In 1984, he began writing and directing for film. He has directed the British television shows Bad Boy Blues, An Evening with Gary Lineker, The Mushroom Picker, Dread Poets Society, Anything for a Quiet Life, and Cracker, which won the Silver Nymph at the 1994 Monte Carlo TV Festival and the 1995 Cable Ace Awards for Best Show, Best Director, and Best Actor. He has written screenplays for Concrete Island, Fiddle City, Rococo, and teleplays for The Sentinels, The Wolves, Underground, and Anything for a Quiet Life. His first feature film, Playing God (1997), starred David Duchovny and Timothy Hutton. Most recently, his stint as the director of Channel 4's Psychos earned the series a 2000 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nomination for Best Drama.

Wilson is currently at work writing a film based on the traditional Welsh story of King Arthur. "It's a sort of Braveheart meets King Arthur, a story about the Celtic tribal people fighting against the Saxons after the Roman withdrawal from Great Britain," he says. "The working title is Pendragon, which is the name that Arthur and his father adopted, and it's also the red dragon on the Welsh flag."

While Pendragon might sound radically different from Gormenghast, Wilson has found parallels between the two projects. "Actually, the real Arthur story is a family saga, too."


 Crew Bios:
Estelle Daniel, Producer | Christopher Hobbs, Production Designer
Andy Wilson, Director | Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Costume Designer

 Synopsis | Frivolous Bits | Crew Bios | Cast + Credits | Awards

Home | The Novels | Behind the Scenes | The Film | Site Map

© | WGBH | PBS


The Novels Behind the Scenes The Film Gormenghast Home Sitemap The Film Synopsis Frivolous Bits Crew Bios Awards and Nominations Cast and Credits