Chris Kelly describes his impressions of Denis Forman

Denis, yes. He was a rather strange character. He came down… I remember Peter Eckersley once said that he’d gone up, it was time to renew his contract so he went up to the sixth floor, and when he got there Forman was playing the piano – because he was a great Mozart authority, as you know, he wrote about it – and he just went on playing and said to Peter, “Help yourself to a drink,” so he did. And he went on playing, and Peter final got up and wandered over to the piano to find that on the music stand was his contract! This is variations on Peter Eckersley’s contract! He was very eccentric. I remember when I did Clapperboard – or maybe it was Sixth Form Challenge – he said, “I think you should wear your tie slightly off-centre.” “And your face,” he said – and I thought, “Hello, it’s the only face I’ve got.” – he said, “Maybe we could sort of slim it.” I could see the surgeon’s knife, glinting in the background! And then he said a very strange thing. About the jacket, he talked about, and said, “I may not know very much about fashion, but I do know something about the cut of a shoulder,” he said. And you know, 40 years later I still don’t know what the hell he was talking about! And then he came down and took charge of local programmes for about three months, I think it was, and we came into our first meeting. And there used to be a big American chat show called The Huntley-Brinkley Report on at the time, and he’d had tapes of this sent over so we could all watch and presumably be inspired by it. It had no relevance whatever, of course. And he split us up into teams, and it was a bit of a shambles to be honest with you. I mean, by the end of three months the thing was lying there in ruins! We didn’t know where we were going. There was all sorts of direction. So he wasn’t a great producer, but he was… and he used to be in the pub too. He told awesome tales about the way that his artificial leg would chafe and he would bleed and he’d never make a fuss about it. I think Scott had met him during the war actually, I’m not sure. Because Denis was at Monte Cassino, and… he was a remarkable man. But you didn’t get the feeling he knew an enormous amount about television. But he did know about the cut of his shoulder, evidently, which is essential. (Chuckles)

Was he supportive?
Yes, he was the one who, when I had this terrible, you know, thought I was going to be fired, he said, “No, you’re not. They’re not going to get what they want.” So that was immensely supportive.

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