Kenny Everett Drama To Air On BBC FourBookmark and Share

Thursday, 20 September 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
A drama celebrating the life and work of pioneering radio DJ, TV star, comedian, and record producer Kenny Everett is to be shown on BBC Four next month.

Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story stars Oliver Lansley as Everett and Katherine Kelly as his wife, Lee, in a production written by Tim Whitnall. It is billed as the story of Everett's against-the-odds struggle to achieve both personal and professional fulfilment, as seen through the prism of his marriage - Everett wed Lee Middleton in 1966 but by 1979 they had separated, divorcing in 1984 - and is told with the help of some of Everett's most famous comic characters, including Sid Snot, Cupid Stunt (pictured below), and Quentin Pose.

It charts how he became one of Britain's best-loved, most rebellious, and truly innovative broadcasters and comedians.

Also appearing in the 90-minute drama, which has been directed by James Strong, are Simon Callow as Dickie Attenborough, Jonathan Kerrigan as John Alkin, and James Floyd as Freddie Mercury.

Everett, who courted controversy throughout his broadcasting career, started out as a DJ for pirate station Radio London. He later moved to presenting shows on Radio Luxembourg, Radio 1, Radio 2, and Capital Radio. In 1968 and 1969, Everett produced the Christmas records made by The Beatles for members of their fan club.

His TV CV included The Kenny Everett Video Show and The Kenny Everett Video Cassette for ITV between 1978 and 1981. After a fall-out with the commercial broadcaster, though, he took The Kenny Everett Video Show to the BBC, where it ran from 1981 to 1988.

In 1984, he starred in the Hammer horror spoof Bloodbath At The House of Death, in which Don Warrington, Gareth Hunt, and Sheila Steafel also appeared.

Everett died in April 1995 aged 50.

Describing the ambition behind the BBC Four drama, associate producer Luke Franklin said:
The task of distilling the multiple, often chaotic strands of Kenny Everett's remarkable and eventful life into 90 minutes of drama felt like an ambitious one, right from the off. Luckily, the desire to see the project made generated endless enthusiasm in its key creative team – writer Tim Whitnall, and director James Strong, who was on board for much of the development process – as well as the consultants, who knew Kenny and advised on every detail of the production.

From the start of the development process, authenticity was always a central aim. It soon became clear that the script was likely to focus upon Kenny's relationship with Lee Middleton (now Lee Everett-Alkin) – to whom Kenny was married for almost a decade and a half. It was through the prism of this defining relationship that Tim Whitnall felt Kenny's story could best be told. The period of Kenny and Lee's relationship encompassed Kenny's rise to fame in the UK and his coming to terms with his sexuality – but also worked as an unconventional love story in its own right.

Together with her husband, John Alkin, Lee was the first consultant to come on board the project, to which she gave invaluable support and access to her archives – as well as notes on the accuracy of the script at each draft stage. Given the script dealt with the gradual breakdown of the marriage, as well as its many happier periods, Lee's involvement as a first-hand source was essential.

Lee met with Oliver Lansley and Katherine Kelly early in pre-production, sharing with both actors details and insights from her life with Kenny which could inform the events dealt with in the script.

Kenny's long-time manager and friend Jo Gurnett was the other major consultant on the project, advising and providing detail and perspective on the whole script, but especially on those elements which dealt with Kenny's professional life and his personal life outside of his marriage to Lee.

Barry Cryer - Kenny's colleague and co-writer on Kenny's television series for both Thames and the BBC – was also a script consultant, as was journalist David Lister, the author of Kenny's biography In The Best Possible Taste.
Richard Klein, the controller of BBC Four, said:
Kenny Everett was a genuine original: wild and unfocused maybe but also deliciously anarchic and always entertaining.

In many ways Kenny was a very modern celebrity, wearing his heart on his sleeve while coping with a complex life. Re-evaluating this talented and exuberant personality, enabling audiences to reconsider Kenny's undoubted impact and legacy, makes this a very BBC Four drama.
Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story, which has been made by Mammoth Screen for BBC Wales, will air on Wednesday 3rd October at 9pm.

FILTER: - Drama - BBC Four