The Blagger's Guide To...'One Day' by David Nicholls

St Swithin and the art of paper folding

Sunday 23 October 2011 08:31

*The film One Day, adapted from the book by David Nicholls and with a screenplay by the multi-talented David Nicholls, will be released on 24 August in UK cinemas.

Starring Anne Hathaway as Emma and Jim Sturgess as Dexter, it follows the trajectory of the novel in catching up with the university friends each St Swithin's Day for 20 years. It is directed by Lone Scherfig, whose last film was An Education, which itself was adapted from the book by Lynn Barber and had a screenplay by another novelist, Nick Hornby.

*Authors who were born on St Swithin's Day – 15 July – include Iris Murdoch, Jacques Derrida, Clive Cussler and David Miliband (Reinventing the Left, 1994).

*One Day is Nicholls' third novel after Starter for Ten in 2003 (adapted by Nicholls into the 2006 film Starter for 10) and The Understudy in 2005, and has been a word-of-mouth bestseller. It sold its millionth UK copy last month.

*The most controversial aspect of the film, therefore, is likely to be the casting of the beautiful Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway as the student Emma (ordinary-looking British actresses do not exist, apparently – see Bridget Jones's Diary, Sliding Doors, etc), and her questionable Yorkshire accent. Just ask Daniel Craig, who worked for years on his Ted Hughes accent for the film Sylvia, listening to hours of tapes and perfecting his unique "mixture of Yorkshire-cum-Cambridge-cum London". Unfortunately, critics called his interpretation "stage Yorkshire".

*The novel One Day starts and ends in Edinburgh, and was inspired by Nicholls' experiences while performing in an "obscure Jacobean tragedy" at the Edinburgh Festival shortly after he graduated (from Bristol) in 1988. The story begins in the room on Rankeillor Street that Nicholls shared with 12 people, though the scenes in the film were recreated in a studio next to a motorway near London.

*Before becoming a world famous novelist, Nicholls tried his hand at acting for several years. He claims that he was bad at it, and that he was incapable of doing accents. His least successful piece of writing was "a devised piece called Mac-let which was ... a fusion of Macbeth and Hamlet".

*As well as adapting his own novels for the screen, Nicholls is quite adept at adapting other people's. His BBC mini-series of Tess of the d'Urbervilles (his favourite Thomas Hardy novel), starring Gemma Arterton, was such a success that he is now working on a screenplay of Far From the Madding Crowd – also starring Gemma Arterton.

*Nicholls wrote four episodes of the third series of ITV's Cold Feet.

*Marketing Edinburgh has already announced its One Day tour of the city (previously best known for its tours of the pubs of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels), taking in Parliament Square, Arthur's Seat, and a lot of snogging in New Town.

*A little-known fact about David Nicholls is that he is a secret master of origami. At a Shoreditch House's Literary Salon last year, he revealed that his "Story of My Life" was Origami 4: the Art of Paper Folding by Robert Harbin, which he spoke about for 20 minutes while constructing a tiny, paper bird.

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