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24th March 1997
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OUTCASTS - The Book
Dear Robin Gutch and Jacquie Lawrence
Are you thinking of complementing the series with a book? If so, I’d be interested in writing the introduction.
When I wrote ‘Cathy Come Home’, probably the best known and most influential single television programme of all time, I teamed it with a book (published by Pan) which fleshed out the anecdotal faction of the play with its statistical provenance; showed that my simple story was in fact one of thousands similar; and, through newspaper serialisation, added dignity and importance to the emotional impact of the drama.
I did the same with other dramatic works, most notably ‘Edna, the Inebriate Woman’ (also published by Pan) and ‘Down and Out in Britain’ (Sphere). I also contributed a section to the book ‘The New Poor’, published by Peter Owen and, incidentally, have done a great deal of investigative journalism for newspapers.
You may be thinking of accompanying Outcasts with a book which would add similar dignity and stature to the series. Such a book, possibly through a series of essays by different people, each relating to the theme of one of your six dramas, would explore the proposition that, in a country as relatively affluent as contemporary Britain, and one which has been selling off its assets (oil, state owned industries) in an unprecedented way, far too many people find themselves divorced from the mainstream, far too many are outcasts.
Or, I suppose, the essays could be more general, not specifically linked to individual items in the series, about the theme as a whole.
There would then be a piece by yourselves in which you talked of the ways in which you had chosen to reflect the theme of Outcasts in the specific plays you commissioned.
Or you could print the six scripts!
Either way, I would be most interested in being considered for writing the introduction for which my track record, I like to think, makes me suitable.
Incidentally, I believe two or three works of mine are being submitted for consideration for production in the actual series. They include ‘Amaryllis’ (or ‘S & M’) submitted by Philippa Couzens at Celtic Productions in Cardiff, ‘Tormented by Demons’, submitted by Caroline Scott, and possibly ‘Cathy’s Not Come Home’, submitted by myself.
There follow some rough preliminary notes for the introduction.
With best wishes
OUTCASTS - The Book
Some Rough Notes for the Introduction
Outcast people, dispossessed, often disenfranchised, untouchable - it has become a truism that in this country today the number of these people may well run to millions.
Somewhere out there flows the mainstream. Those are the people outcast folk see on the telly, the people with cars, the people with homes, the people who have whatever the dispossessed don’t have, the people whose skin is the right colour.
I’d like to explore the proposition that in a country as relatively affluent as contemporary Britain, and one which has been selling off its assets (oil, state owned industries) in an unprecedented way, far too many people find themselves divorced from the mainstream, far too many are outcasts.
In name a pluralist society, in fact this country has been becoming more and more centralised at a time when the flow of power in the rest of Europe has been going in exactly the opposite direction - towards the regions.
Centralisation produces a strong mainstream. In this country millions have got lost in the eddies and side currents.
Decentralisation - the creation of regional governments which can accommodate the regional quirks of their area - can make possible a respect for cultural diversity.
In some Eastern European countries, groups that are dispossessed and criminalised here have their own MPs and political structures.
Candidates for an analysis of the dispossessed or outcasts might be:
* The millions of unemployed.
* People whose skin is the wrong colour.
* The million families who, over the last ten years, have officially been declared, by local authorities, to be homeless.
* The millions of young, and not so young, people who smoke cannabis and have been criminalised.
* Travellers, beggars, Gypsies, hippies, all whose nomadic lifestyle has put them beyond the pale.
* One parent families.
* The youth culture, especially festival goers and ravers.
* People with unusual sexual needs.
* The handicapped and those with mental illness.
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