Brian Viner: 'The play will tour village halls – and perhaps even be staged on Broadway '

Home And Away

Related Topics

One of the perils of writing about your life in a national newspaper is that people rush to judgement about you. And not only that, they know how to find you. This column in a previous incarnation was titled Tales of the Country, and in 2003, about a year after I started writing it, I got a letter from a fellow who lives three miles away, which, in this neck of the woods, counts as practically a next-door neighbour.

"It is a pity you do not restrict your contributions to The Independent to your sporting interviews," he thundered, "as your Tales of the Country are exceedingly trite and patronising." He went on in a similar vein for a few more sentences, vigorously lambasting me on all sorts of counts, and then he wrote, "Hey ho, on a positive note I cannot believe the number of times you appear to have emptied your septic tank. Something is wrong. We have emptied ours twice in 22 years." The key to the whole exercise, he advised me, "is the nitrification tile or perforated plastic pipe which takes the septic tank's effluent. It must be of sufficient length (150ft-plus) and surrounded by coarse/medium gravel. Yours sincerely..."

As I wrote at the time, this marked a new stage in the evolution of the poison-pen letter, someone not sending me his own effluent in the post but considered technical advice on what to do with mine. I was almost touched.

Anyway, I hope that Mr Effluent will be duly outraged to learn that those Tales of the Country columns, which inspired a moderately successful book of the same name, are now to be adapted for the stage. A theatre company called Pentabus, based in Ludlow, approached me a couple of months ago to ask whether they could make a play of the book, and the plans are for it to tour village halls around this time next year, and perhaps even for it to be staged on Broadway. Sorry, I meant in Broadway. I'm told that the United Reformed Church Hall on the High Street is a smashing little venue.

In our house, however, we are already getting ideas above our station. Jane wonders whether we might be able to interest Andrew Lloyd Webber in a Saturday teatime BBC1 reality show, in which women will audition for the chance of a lifetime to play her at Pudleston Village Hall. They could call it Wife of Brian. Failing that, she hopes Pentabus are aware that Julie Christie lives not far away over the Welsh border, and might be tempted to tread the boards again, albeit the boards of Clun Memorial Hall rather than the Royal Court. As for who should play me, Daniel Craig might fancy a break from the rigours of James Bond movies, although Jane thinks that Richard Griffiths could better capture my essence. Whatever, I do hope that there will be a role, or at least a mention, for Mr Effluent.

It's all very exciting, but also rather alarming. It's one thing chronicling my life in print, whereby one can only picture people reading about my family and me, but sitting in a darkened auditorium among a paying audience as actors recreate the pratfalls with which our first year in the country was replete, is a different matter entirely. And what about those theatre critics, whose pens spill even more acid than Mr Effluent's? So far I've had to withstand only the barbs of literary critics, a slightly less savage breed, although they can be hard enough.

My latest book, a memoir about growing up in front of the telly in the 1970s, has been widely and on the whole generously reviewed. Unfortunately, I have never quite learnt to do what Laurence Olivier advised young actors: that if you laugh off the bouquets, you can more easily shrug off the brickbats. Consequently, I was thrilled with a marvellous review of my book in The Mail on Sunday, but aghast when it was slated in the Daily Express. It was also reviewed in this newspaper, I should add, by a former colleague of mine called William Cook who suggested that I have built my career on "cheerful bonhomie" and wrote that another colleague once described me as "a journalistic Val Doonican". I dropped William a note saying that I didn't know whether to laugh or croon.

Either way, I might be laughing, or crooning, on the other side of my face on Tales of the Country's opening night.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: A huge step forward in medical science, but we're not all the way there yet

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album