Derek Granger on the continuing success of Brideshead Revisited

We’ve all been up to Castle Howard again to do this shoot for Vanity Fair. As I say, 35 years on, it’s the 35th anniversary of the first transmission, and Vanity Fair are doing a commemorative photo shoot for us, and we got all the cast back, everybody really, except for Claire Bloom as Lady Marchmain and Stéphane Audran as Cara. We all went back to Castle Howard to be photographed, probably for the December or January issue in commemoration of the 35th anniversary. It was a great event really, because a lot of people hadn’t seen each other. Some of us said… a lot of us have stayed together as friends over the period, but there were a few actors that I hadn’t seen for 35 years. So that was fun. And as I say we’ve all been photographed for this Vanity Fair special. And as I say, Brideshead continues to be aired on one of the cable channels, usually. It was leased specially to Sky Art for five years, but it’s back now with Granada, and I think it’s whirling around. It’s always on show somewhere or other.

And does it still look as… I’ve not seen it since.

I don’t know. I’ve only seen it in bits, I haven’t seen it all the way through, but it absolutely holds up. It doesn’t seem to have dated at all. It really does. It doesn’t look like an old show; it’s amazing the way it holds up. And it’s passionate aficionados… I do quite a lot of stints on it. I did one for the V&A about a year ago, we did an evening at the V&A. I did it with Nicholas Grace, who was Anthony Blanche, and Diana Quick, who was Julia Flyte. And we did an evening for an absolutely packed audience, and it was sold out on announcement. I did a talk at the Birley Centre, Eastbourne, and that was sold out. I went to Lancing College to the second Evelyn Waugh lecture, which I talked about Brideshead. And I’ve done another talk for the Evelyn Waugh Society, so it sort of goes on. People who loved it… actually I dislocated my shoulder the other day, and I was in A&E in Brighton and one of the nurses came over to me and said, “I hear you did Brideshead! It’s my favourite show of all time.” Because the doctor had asked me what I did. It was rather sweet. So there was I with a dislocated shoulder in A&E, feeling rather a fool…

And I’m sure the people of my generation would say that it is their favourite TV drama of all time.

It’s very flattering; it does keep on getting these… the Radio Times put it very highly, I think second or third drama. The Guardian put it as the second best after The Sopranos. So it does get this adulation, which is very nice and flattering. There we were, hanging about, not knowing really what we were doing, but…

I mean, it is extraordinary that you were able to suddenly say, “We’re going from six to 11 programmes,” And that the network didn’t say anything about this!

No! I mean, I have friends now who are in television and they tell me of the enormous strictures that are laid upon everybody, and I believe it’s very… and I doubt I could survive a day! But as I say, it was just wonderful. And I’ve got this marvellous piece… I mean, we were given this immense amount of freedom by Granada, which was extraordinary. And as I say, David was particularly understanding of our problems so we had a wonderful easy ride in that way, although it was very, very intensive, the making of it. I mean, I was working every weekend, weekend after weekend. I mean, you know, we were working right through; I was doing seven-day weeks for a long time. But it was so wonderful working on material which was as marvellous as the Waugh novel, and I think that’s what everybody was dedicated to doing as well as they possibly could.


Leave a Reply