Professor of Creative Writing adapts poem for BBC

4 October 2010

Professor Martin Goodman has adapted a poem entitled The Song Of Lunch, written by his predecessor and winner of the Costa Book Award Christopher Reid.

Emma Thompson and Professor Martin Goodman

Martin Goodman who is Director of the University’s Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing, was inspired by Christopher Reid’s narrative poem and thought it would make a wonderful film.

Right: Emma Thompson pictured with Professor Martin Goodman

He explains: “The poem reads as a script, with a great and funny storyline, wonderful description, and perfect dialogue between its two characters. Christopher Reid was touched that I saw it that way and let me run with it. From turning it into the initial script and taking it to my friend, the actor and producer Greg Wise, it’s now the BBC’s fastest ever film from commission to screen. It’s a thrill to have your vision taken up by others in such a masterful way.”

The University of Hull has a rich heritage of poetry; Philip Larkin was the University’s librarian for 30 years, Andrew Motion was a lecturer and Roger McGough studied his undergraduate degree at the University. Professor Christopher Reid wrote The Song of Lunch when he was the University’s Professor of Creative Writing, so with Martin picking up the baton this film has the University of Hull stamped on its heart.

Martin continues: “It’s a writer’s dream to have a poem become a film, and Christopher was overjoyed when he heard that Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman would be playing the main parts.”

The short film will be shown on BBC 2, and on Masterpiece Theatre throughout the United States. It tells the story of an book editor played by Alan Rickman who, 15 years after their break-up meets his former love, played by Emma Thompson, for a nostalgic lunch at Zanzotti’s, the Soho restaurant they used to frequent.

The woman is now living a glamorous life in Paris and married to a world-renowned writer, whilst the editor has failed in his writing career, detests his mundane publishing job and regrets the end of their love affair. When he arrives at Zanzotti’s he finds it under new management and much changed, and this seems to fuel his resentment about growing older and being left behind.

The stage is set for an emotional and bittersweet reunion. As the wine flows, and the couple rake over their failed relationship, nostalgia turns to recrimination.

Martin concludes: “The film will be shown to mark National Poetry Day. It showcases how poetry can be funny and moving and there for everybody. I teach the book to my Creative Writing MA students, showing them how a writer can break bounds. Now they can see how such a small book from a tiny publishing house gets the Hollywood treatment. Writers don’t have to follow the lead to become leaders.”

The Song of Lunch will be shown at on BBC2, 9pm on 8th October.


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