Get set for more Andrew Davies drama

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CHAMPAGNE will be served at Andrew Davies’ house when he watches his new series South Riding on BBC1 later this month.

Although the Kenilworth screen writer has written many television, film and radio scripts and gets to see them before anyone else does, he says there is nothing like watching his work with everybody else when it airs.

The 74-year-old grandfather started writing the three episodes of South Riding last year and it was filmed last autumn on location.

The story, which was originally told in a book by Winifred Holtby, explores the lives and loves of a 1930s Yorkshire town in a passionate tale of politics in small places.

The episodes, expected to be aired later this month, star David Morrissey and Anna Maxwell Martin.

Mr Davies said: “I’ve seen the finished version of the drama and I’m very happy with it.

“Now I’m looking forward to sitting down with my wife Diana and watching it when it’s on officially.

“South Riding is basically a portrait of a whole community.

“The main character is a young headteacher who comes to take over the girl’s grammar school and finds herself in conflict with various governors and especially with a right wing Tory who just happens to be abundantly handsome.

“The story has got lots of relevance with today because it’s set in a depression with lots and lots of cuts, but their council is like the opposite of the Conservative Government we’ve got today because theirs wants to stimulate the community by building lots of new things.

“It’s politically very interesting and up to date, but it also has a strong romantic trait throughout.

“A South Riding series was written in the 1970s with Dorithy Tutin but my version moves much faster. Back then it had 13 episodes and to watch that again now feels awfully slow.

“My version had to be much more pacey and I stress the political side more because it seemed to fit our times so well.”

Mr Davies admits he prefers writing for television because his scripts never get changed, unlike when he writes for film.

His next project however is actually a radio script called The Purple Land which should be broadcast on Radio Four in April.

He said: “This will be the first radio script I’ve written for around 40 years.

“The first things I wrote were for radio and later I got into writing for television, stage and children’s books.

“As well as The Purple Land, I’m also working on a few things I can’t talk about.

“It’s nice to still be working so much and have people approach me to write, especially for television. When I first came into the business they told me it was a young person’s game, but I’m still getting away with it.”