Enter stage right, after a long pause, Alan Clark

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The Independent Culture

The extraordinary life of the maverick Tory Alan Clark is set to be turned into a play - four years after the late MP himself scuppered the last bid to stage his controversial diaries.

The extraordinary life of the maverick Tory Alan Clark is set to be turned into a play - four years after the late MP himself scuppered the last bid to stage his controversial diaries.

A production company is in the early stages of developing the diaries, which caused a sensation when Mr Clark revealed scurrilous details of his affairs, poured scorn on parliamentary colleagues, and shed light on some of the darker moments of the Thatcher years.

Ned Sherrin and Keith Waterhouse, who brought the writer Jeffrey Bernard's magazine columns to the stage, were behind the last attempt to turn Mr Clark's colourful life into theatre, with Peter O'Toole in mind for the leading role.

The project was foiled when Mr Clark decided to try to return to the House of Commons, from which he had retired, and pulled the plug for fear the play would jeopardise his chances in the vacant Kensington and Chelsea seat.

Vegetarian, libertarian, female ankle-adoring, fine art-collecting Mr Clark died in September 1999. Jane Clark, his widow, has now sanctioned a deal with Promenade Productions. A spokeswoman for the literary agents Peters Fraser and Dunlop said an option had been agreed with the company but the producer, Nicholas Newton, yesterday refused to give any details.

Mr Sherrin said he was surprised at the new plans for a stage version. He had met Alan and Jane Clark a year before his death, and she had been unhappy about the project, given the furore that had surrounded the diaries. "She said she didn't want any more of that fuss," he said. He added they had not got as far as casting, but they would obviously have asked Peter O'Toole, who made the drunken womaniser Jeffrey Bernard such a success.

"He's an arch-seducer, so would have been an obvious choice. You can't get anyone better to play dashing, elegant, arch-seducers than O'Toole. But he was never asked if he was interested or not."

Tory MPs who had known the late MP were at a loss to suggest any alternatives. Nicholas Soames said: "I can't think of anyone who could possibly play the part of Alan Clark."

Jane Clark was not available for comment.

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