News Column

CLEMENT & LA FRENAIS ; Unlikely lads keep writing hits, pet

September 22, 2013


WELCOME to another nostalgic meander through the archives here at the Sunday Sun. This week we focus in on a writing partnership which has given countless hours of pleasure to millions. When you've been writing quality television and films for as long as Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, there comes a point where the anniversaries start rolling in thick and fast. Earlier this year, a cuppa was raised to applaud the 40th anniversary of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads - the follow up to The Likely Lads, which will enjoy its 50th anniversary in 2014.

Next year will also mark 40 years since the first episode of prison comedy drama, Porridge, another of their classic creations. Back to the here and now though, as you will have already seen on page 12, this weekend on Tyneside has seen a raft of nostalgic events and celebrations themed around Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, which first hit our small screens 30 years ago and put the Geordie accent on the small screen map, as well as a German building site.

We needed no more of an excuse to hit the library for a flick through half a century of writing by Monkseaton-born Ian and his long time writing partner, Dick, who hails from Essex. Together they have created some of British television's most memorable characters. Who could forget Jimmy Nail's Oz in Auf Wiedersehen? Or Ronnie Barker's Fletch in Porridge? Meanwhile James Bolam and Rodney Bewes' Likely Lads Terry Collier and Bob Ferris will forever be etched in our minds. But although this trio of golden TV nuggets will always be front and centre when Clement and La Frenais are mentioned, the pair - now in their seventies and both OBEs - have enjoyed a boatload of other successes on small and big screens alike.

They won the Bafta for Best Adapted Screenplay for the hit nineties film, The Commitments while the popular BBC drama Lovejoy was also from Ian's side of the stable. The first instalment of the GOAL! football film trilogy has their names on it, as does four years-worth of the Tracey Ullman Show of the eighties. And having spent the best part of four decades living in Los Angeles, as well as writing their own original screenplays and adaptations, Dick and Ian are also two of Hollywood's go-to-guys when scripts are in trouble.

The Rock and Pearl Harbour are two examples. And don't let their advancing years fool you. They're as busy as ever. Recent years have seen them work on films like Flushed Away, The Bank Job, Killing Bono and a miniseries based on Alan Furst's thriller Spies of Warsaw, starring David Tennant. That's what we call livin' alright.

ON THE COVER: Veteran and award-winning writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have created some of Britain's best-loved comedy characters

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