Monday, 7 October 2013


Reading Nanette Newman's recent article in The Telegraph about her late husband, Bryan Forbes, reminded me of one of several occasions on which I interviewed Bryan over the years.

At the time I was working with TV filmmaker, Norman Stone, on a proposed documentary about Peter Sellers for Arena. The programme was never made (at least not by us) but we spent several months in research which involved meeting with members of Sellers' family and his many friends and colleagues.

Norman and I went to visit Bryan and Nanette who were most hospitable and, after several glasses of wine, we fell to talking about the other potential interviewees for the series - a list that included Mel Brooks, Britt Ekland, Lynne Frederick, Eric Sykes, Irene Handl, Lionel Jefferies, Jerzy Kosiński, Harry Secombe and legendary, globe-trotting TV presenter, Alan Whicker.

It was at that point that Norman volunteered that I did a mean impression of Mr Whicker and Bryan and Nanette encouraged me to demonstrate it.

Put on the spot, I awkwardly declined; however – a couple of bottles later – conviviality reigned, my inhibitions evaporated and I suddenly and unrestrainedly launched into my impersonation...

When a few hours (and few more bottles) later, we were about to leave, Bryan said that he wanted to give Norman and I one of his books: Norman received one of the Forbes film memoirs and I was given a copy of his novel, Familiar Strangers...

...which he duly signed on the title page –– not to me, but to the impersonated Alan Whicker...

Nanette, looking over Bryan's shoulder said, "You can't write that! Anyone who sees it will think Brian has stolen it from Alan Whicker!"

Without missing a beat, Bryan took the book back and added a further explanatory inscription!!

 I must remember to leave a note in the book for the benefit of my executors!


SharonM said...

What a lovely memory. And it's great to meet people with good senses of humour and fun (with or without the help of alcohol).

Val , Kate, The Cute Kitten ,Razzy, Kepsey,Darwin ,Charon and Echo. said...

A lovely story ..they sound like very nice people :0)