Miles Tredinnick’s successful career has spanned music, stage and screen, including working with comedy legend Frankie Howerd and as a writer on the hit TV series ‘Birds of a Feather’, now his comedy thriller Twist will be brought to the Bonington by regular visiting company Baroque Theatre.
We caught up with Miles to find out more about his career and what we have to look forward to when Twist comes to The Bonington on Friday 11th May.
Having a career that stretches from Music to Theatre and to TV, is there one you would put above the other?
No, they’re all important to me. Music was my first love but comedy was always something I wanted to write. So when I came to the end of my contract with MCA Records I dived straight in to writing stage plays and then later, TV sitcoms. Nothing is planned at all and it still isn’t. I just bumble along and work on the next project that interests me.
Given your legacy in the punk movement, are you happy to see Twist given a truly edgy, punk treatment by the Baroque Theatre Company?
Well there is a bit of crossover between the play and my band LONDON as some of the band’s songs are used but really the clever thing about TWIST is that although at its heart it is a traditional comedy thriller in the Deathtrap, Sleuth mode, the director Adam Morley has totally updated it with clever tech and other theatrical tricks. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to spoil the surprises but what I can say is that if you love stage thrillers you’re going to love TWIST. It’s very edgy and at times disturbing and even scary. One minute you think it’s a traditional English farce and then it suddenly becomes Quentin Tarantino!
Are there any career highlights that you’re particularly proud of?
Yes, so many and they’re almost always ‘firsts’. The first time I held a record I had made (London’s EVERYONE’S A WINNER), the first time that I got the green light for a sitcom pilot (WYATT’S WATCHDOGS), the first TV script I worked on for Frankie Howerd (SUPERFRANK), the first night of TOPLESS (a comedy on a real open-top bus driving through the streets of London.)
How did you end up writing for Frankie Howerd?
I’d just got on the books of the agent Tessa Le Bars who also represented Frankie Howerd as well as Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Frankie was looking for someone who could write farce as he wanted to bring UP POMPEII into the West End. I had just had a comedy published by Samuel French called LAUGH? I NEARLY WENT TO MIAMI! and Tessa showed it to Frank. Fortunately he liked my writing style and asked me to start writing scripts for him which I did.
You were asked by Frankie to write an updated version of the classic Up Pompeii! for the stage. Was this an easy process?
Well it was easy in as much as all the basics were there to begin with. Talbot Rothwell (the ‘Carry On’ writer) created the show and came up with all the wonderful characters’ names – Ludicrus Sextus, Ammonia, Nausius and Erotica etc. Sid Colin also wrote some excellent episodes. But remember that this was before YouTube and I didn’t have access to the episodes like you would now. I had to make do with some very faded photo-copied scripts that were lying about in Tessa’s office. Fortunately Frankie was around to ask questions about the show and he was insistent that it had to be a brand new original script and not three TV episodes cobbled together as is often the case in stage versions of classic sitcoms. Sadly he never appeared in it on stage but we did have a wonderful reading of the play at his Kensington home with Jeanne Mockford (who played Senna the Soothsayer in the BBC version) and him both reprising their roles. In fact, for some reason, Frankie hadn’t been able to get any other actors along and ended up reading about nine parts! He even ended up seducing himself at one point! It was hilarious.
You’ve continued to write for the stage, but Topless was written for and originally performed on-board a moving sightseeing bus, how did you come up with the idea for this?
After I had worked on ‘Birds of a Feather’ for the BBC I decided to take some time away from writing and got a job as a tour guide on a London open-top sightseeing bus. Then one weekend I slipped off a kerb and broke my ankle. As I was in plaster for about eight weeks there was no way that I could climb up and down the stairs on the bus so I ended up back in my flat with nothing to do. It was then that I came up with the idea of writing a stage comedy set on the open-top of a sightseeing bus and I called it TOPLESS. It was a one-woman show about a girl, Sandie, showing tourists the sights of London whilst at the same time having a nervous breakdown. It was originally going to be performed in a theatre but we couldn’t raise the money to put it on. We were just about to give up on the whole thing when the director Martin Bailey said why not do it on the bus! So when the guide says there’s Piccadilly Circus on your right, there is Piccadilly Circus on your right! It was a brilliant idea and total virtual reality. With the Big Bus Company we produced the show for two seasons. It was a lot of fun. Since that play I’ve also written TOPLESS IN PHILADELPHIA, and TOPLESS IN SYDNEY. A new one, TOPLESS IN LAS VEGAS will shortly be published. They all feature different tour guides showing you the sights of their particular city. I was fortunate to travel to some of these places and train the tour guides for Big Bus so the tours are exactly how you would experience them if you went there.
Will you be able to see the play on any of its dates?
If it was possible I’d be there every night but sadly that’s not practical. I shall try and catch as many shows as possible though. The cast led by Clive Greenwood is quite exceptional and includes Claire Bibby, Thea Balich, and Ellis J. Wells so try and catch it if you can!
Twist comes to The Bonington on Friday 11th May, book your tickets today to guarantee your seat