The Diary: Ian McEwan; Home from War; The Harder They Come; John Simpson; Laurence Olivier Awards

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The Independent Culture

More than just a fly-by-night project

The Booker Prize-winning novelist and sometime screenwriter, Ian McEwan, tells me he spent six months meticulously researching and writing a sequel to David Cronenberg film, 'The Fly', in 1995, which he considered his "best screenplay". 'Flies', (not to be mistaken with 1989's 'The Fly II') was to star Geena Davis, who featured opposite Jeff Goldblum in 'The Fly', and who owned the "fly concept" along with 20th Century Fox. McEwan says: "Our movie was going to begin with Geena Davis giving birth to twin boys, and it was written in a realistic mode. She fears her children will be deformed but she gives birth to two perfectly healthy babies. As they become teenagers, they become stranger and stranger, as teenagers do, and quite hyperactive. She has always worried that they inherited the (fly) gene. They become more manic, and one first becomes more fly like, then the other follows....It was my best screenplay... I really wanted this to have no foundation in anything other than genetics." There was a disagreement, leading the project to halt, he added. "I would like to see it made," he said.

Soldier's story

The author, Marnie Summerfield Smith, who co-authored the book, 'Home from War', with war veteran, Martyn Compton and his wife, Michelle, was so inspired by Mr Compton's story of survival in Afghanistan – he was a former lance-corporal in the Household Cavalry when he was so badly burned in a 2006 Taliban ambush in that he "died" twice – she is now working on another book about an injured soldier. "What I love about these stories are the relationships between the soldiers, which are deeply touching."

Cliff's still tops

It was the 1972 movie that took reggae to the wider world. Now, 'The Harder They Come' has since had a West End run and is now to embark on a UK tour from May to July. The stage play is an adaptation of the film starring Jimmy Cliff featuring classic songs such as "You Can Get It If You Really Want", and "Rivers of Babylon". It is, apparently, the first genuine black Caribbean musical to be staged in the UK. Catch it if you can, at the Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Lowry in Salford, among others.

Cartoons aren't always child's play

When John Simpson, the BBC's world affairs editor, is not travelling incognito, or taking intrepid trips to war zones with his BBC crew, or writing books, he's at home in central London with his four-year-old boy, sampling children's television, not always a pleasant experience given the state of some of the show's he's seen. "I now, at the age of 65, have my favourites. I quite like 'Bob the Builder', and I'm changing my view on a dozen or so of ghastly shows." There is 'SpongeBob SquarePants', an American cartoon character with whom he is now all too familiar. "Sometimes, you can feel the brain damage coming on, but he loves it," chuckles Simpson. He is surely not the first dynamic older dad who has been cornered into watching endless repeats of 'The Muppet Show'. Perhaps John Humphrys feels Simpson's pain.

Why there won't be a surprise winner

The Laurence Olivier Awards take place on Sunday and I hope that the ENO's 'Peter Grimes' wins in the best new opera production category. But I wonder whether there should be too much shouting about this strange category. Winners of the Oliviers have to be West End productions and there are only two dedicated opera houses in the West End, the Royal Opera House and the ENO at the Coliseum. Surprise, surprise, each year one of them wins an award to put on their marketing literature. Well done to the winner, and let's not broadcast the fact that there's a 50 per cent chance of a prize.