What can you tell us about making The Lucan File?
“It was an enjoyable production without any problems, as you’d expect with a great cast.


The play was proposed first as an adaptation of an original screenplay written by the young journalist, James Ruddick, and based on his own book about the Lucan case.  However, when we looked at his script we saw that he had moved well away from his own book, into the kind of speculation you just wouldn’t – given that many of the characters were still alive – get away with.  So we went back to basics and researched both the original book and everything else we could get hold of and I re-wrote the play.


As you’ll have seen, Julian Fellowes was in the cast not only because of his acting talents but because he knew that world intimately, as his wonderful screenplay for Gosford Park demonstrates.  The biggest problem came from the BBC Legal Department, who said that since we made it pretty clear that we thought Lord Lucan was guilty, we and the BBC could be in big trouble if he re-appeared and sued us.


Our response was that, if our show actually made the elusive Lord re-appear we’d be happy with the publicity and put up with the case”


You mentioned the difficulties in writing about people who were still alive.  Was that why John Aspinall was substituted by the character ‘Ronnie Roberts’?
 “Yup.  We knew that Lucan’s friends, Aspinall and Goldsmith (Sir James Goldsmith) were all highly litiginous and so didn’t want to get in trouble, though if anyone had chosen to sue, the name change wouldn’t have made much difference since they were recognisable, which is I think the criterion for slander.”


Julian Fellowes was involved because of his familiarity with that world – was this a factor in casting Nathaniel Parker too? 
“Yes, Peter Kavanagh is a brilliant caster – as David Mamet once said, “if you have a good script and a good cast, there isn’t really much for the director to do.”  Though Peter did do quite a lot and is a master of editing and pace.”


Here's the link to the review of The Lucan File.


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