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To GILLIAN HUSH
February 9th 1987

Dear Gillian Hush,

I was just listening, not ten minutes ago, to your and Phil Smith’s programme on Lancashire lorry drivers, and just wanted to say how great it was, Lovely reflective voices, measured story-telling, quirky little insights, bits of unabashed poetry – wonderful. And none of the frills that people so often put in – music, sound effects, voice overs, explanations. Just people talking about what they’re doing and talking really well and somebody doing a good editing job as well.

I am engaged at the moment in going out to Burma to do the script for a film for the BBC – one of their Great Journeys of the Whatsit – on the Burma Road, and I can distinctly remember saying to the producer on our recce, as we reclined in some buffalo-infested dive, that what we should be making films about today is the real routes of the world, the lorry routes. I have seen with my own eyes the route from Amman down to the Red Sea, a regimental trooping of lorries across an empty desert. I know a bloke who has just driven across the Sahara and there again, he says, there is a main road lined with burnt out trucks, discarded tyres and bric-a-brac. The other day there was a horrendous crash on a motorway through Yugoslavia which apparently is known locally as Death road and which also links Europe with the Middle East… That’s where the action is today, that’s the modern equivalent of the Silk Route, or whatever. Don’t you think our film is a little irrelevant? I said. After all, there is no Burma Road today. The border to China is closed.

Maybe, he said, but what people like to see is the picturesque, the old-fashioned, the last steam that or horse-drawn this.

I am glad you ignored his advice and went for the real roads,

Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite enjoying the idea of going out to Burma. But I think we’ll be lucky to get anywhere near as good a programme as yours was. When people say how much better radio is than TV, it’s programmes like yours they’re thinking of.

yours sincerely


 

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