Alan Bennett’s Diaries chronicles the great writer looking back over his life, with cameras following him for a year, putting his latest tome of diaries into print, selecting what goes in, and it’s a work that covers a massive ten years, from 2005 to 2015.
Haven’t not been around when he came to the fore with TV shows like Beyond The Fringe in the ’60s, and not really *getting* him in his subsequent years when I was younger, it’s only as I’ve turned into an old curmudgeon myself that come across his work and then wanted to know more about it, so would really welcome repeats of all his TV plays, for example.
At the tender age of 82, Mr Alan Bennett states that he only writes in his diary when something interesting happens, so that won’t happen every day. In addition, he admits that he destroyed some of his old diaries ones because he found them embarrassing. There’s also family photos, including ones of his father always wearing a bowler hat, even when they’re on the beach, plus the time when he travelled to New York, and the indignity of what happened at an awards ceremony and the subsequent interviews, which I won’t spoil here, because it has to be heard from the man himself, who has such an incredible way with words.
Interestingly, there’s no chronology in the stories recounted from his past decade, in this documentary, and there are also pictures of his observations from his window, including Miss Shepherd, the inspiration for The Lady In The Van, with Maggie Smith as the titular female. As I post this review, I’ve still to see it but it’s broadcast after this programme and will be on BBC iPlayer afterwards, and I’ll link it below.
It’s difficult to give a documentary like this a mark out of 10, so I’ll just tell you that it’s a must-see.
Overall: Essential viewing
Director: Adam Low
Producer: Martin Rosenbaum
Film Editor: Joanna Crickmay
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.