KG: What or who inspired you to be a writer?
AS: My mother had written plays and short stories. One of the first things I wrote myself was a courtroom sketch for my college end-of-term revue. I was given the part of judge and presumed, because I’d written it, that I’d automatically know the lines. I didn’t – and had to have all my lines on pieces of paper in front of me. It was the audience laughter on that night that inspired me to continue.
KG: What gave you the idea of your latest book?
AS: I grew up with the Carry Ons which, as time went on, became both ruder and nuder. Then the Confessions films took things a stage further. Although continental movies could be erotic and steamy, the British equivalent was always played for laughs. Of course, they were very much of their era. No-one in their right mind would make a film like that today. Or would they? That was my starting point.
KG: Who is your favourite writer and why?
AS: Edmund Crispin. He wrote a series of ‘locked door’ mysteries featuring university professor and amateur sleuth Gervase Fenn. The plots are ingenious and the writing is succinct and very funny. Gervase Fenn is pure mischief – sometimes he even steps out of the plot and makes fun of the author. Edmund Crispin was the pen name of Bruce Montgomery, who also wrote the music for the early Carry On movies. A fascinating and multi-talented man.
KG: What's your favourite book?
AS: ‘Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy’ by Mark Lewisohn, known in our house as the ‘comedy bible’.
KG: Do you read a lot? If so what are you reading right now?
AS: I mainly read at bedtime and on train journeys. Current book is ‘Dramatic Exchanges’ – a collection of letters written by directors, administrators, actors and writers working at the National Theatre. Highly entertaining and informative and, at times, surprisingly vitriolic.
KG: What writing projects are you working on?
AS: My next book will also be set in the entertainment industry, but with a strong element of menace. I’m also planning a non-fiction book that will celebrate an important centenary.
KG: What do you like most about writing?
AS: Most of my jokes and sketches have been performed in front of a studio audience. So the joy has been twofold – both having my material delivered by a comedy pro and hearing the audience response. Writing a novel is rather different, but I’m still aiming to amuse the reader and set them a few puzzles along the way.
KG: Where do you see yourself and your writing in five years’ time?
AS: If my past career is anything to go by, I’ll have moved on to an entirely different genre. Most likely I’ll be adapting my award-winning novels into Oscar-winning screenplays. (I’d much prefer to do them on radio, but the money’s not so good.)
KG: What one writing tip would you share?
AS: Don’t let your characters tell each other exactly what they’re thinking. Don’t let the narrator do it either. Plant a few subtle clues and trust the reader to work it out.
KG: What would you say to educate and inspire young writers?
AS: Keep it short. Keep it quirky.
1. I was the last ever commissioned writer to be taken on by long-running Radio 2 comedy show ‘The News Huddlines’.
2. I directed a play for a drama festival, but one of the female actors was unavailable. I played the part myself and received a Best Actress nomination.
3. One of my radio plays includes the F-word in British Sign Language.
4. I’ve performed the samba in a dance competition adjudicated by Edwina Currie.
5. I contributed three crossword puzzles to ‘The (Almost) Impossible Crossword Book’ by Gyles Brandreth.
6. I once wrote a topical gag that resulted in the Daily Mirror claiming: ‘Radio 2 listeners are still in shock after a daring joke at the expense of Sir Cliff Richard.’
7. My Wilson, Keppel & Betty book ‘Too Naked for the Nazis’ won the Diagram Prize for oddest book title of the year. My photo shows me drinking the prize.
Alan Stafford started off as a topical gag writer on such shows as News Huddlines, 11 O’Clock Show, Bremner, Bird and Fortune and News Quiz.
He’s also written for two-thirds of The Goodies and both the Two Ronnies.
Plus sketches for Griff Rhys Jones, Punt & Dennis and Mitchell & Webb. And radio plays for Bill Nighy, Jenny Éclair, Hugh Bonneville and Matt Lucas. He’s scripted centenary tributes to Kenneth Horne and Sid James, presented by Jimmy Carr and Lee Mack.
Alan has had two non-fiction books published – about sand-dancing variety legends Wilson, Keppel & Betty, and teatime TV classic Crackerjack!
Why would anyone wish to resurrect the saucy sex comedy? Surely it died a natural death decades ago. Along with one unnatural death. An actor who killed both himself and an entire movie. And now, out of the blue, a fresh young director is keen to complete that movie – with the original cast!
Thus begins leading lady Amanda’s improbable quest – to seek out her co-stars and persuade them to strip off and get sexy for one last movie. But will her fellow performers be in any shape (mental or physical) to face the unforgiving glare of the studio lights? Nostalgia and neuralgia, libido and lumbago collide in this sometimes wry and wistful, sometimes bizarre and bawdy, sex comedy about the making of a sex comedy.
Expect a bumpy ride as the old gang reassemble for a final bonkbusting encore … BONKORE! … a delicious debut novel from comedy writer Alan Stafford.