What was it about the Ford Madox Ford novels that made you want to write the miniseries of "Parade's End?"
It was the milieu. I can't say I feel at home in it, because I'm not an upper class English gentleman. But the world of the upper classes before the First World War is an attractive genre. So here were four books about the same characters in English society between 1908 and 1918. It's a Modernist novel - not a linear book.
Then was one of your tasks to make it more linear and visual?
Yes, I decided I had to make it linear - also I don't think I could have understood the book myself until I made it linear and broke it down to understand what happened in what order. That was a challenge but it was also a challenge to turn it into a drama. The book is full of marvelous stuff but it's happening in the characters' heads. Very often there wasn't a dramatic situation, let alone a dramatic momentum. It was wonderful to read but one had to invent a lot of concrete situations for this dialogue to live in.
Can you give an example?
I had to turn to historical events to give myself a dramatic context. One example is the feminist suffragette who slashed the Velasquez painting in the National Gallery. That actually happened - a woman called Mary Robinson. Another example is the publication of a notorious book by Dr. Marie Stopes, a feminist who understood more clearly than anyone of that generation that a lot of marriages were unhappy due to sexual ignorance. I introduced that book into Valentine's world.
There is a good deal of physical comedy - rambunctious sex scenes - and then there's the scatological Reverend Duchemin- is that you or Ford?