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You have to get sex into the spine of a story. It's very good advice and I pass it on to any young writer.


Screenwriter Andrew Davies yesterday revealed the secret of his success to aspiring writers. It's sex, sex and more sex. The award-winning Welsh author, famed for his steamy TV adaptation of Tipping the Velvet and his work on Pride and Prejudice, told a packed audience at the Hay Festival that sex was the key to a good story.

'You have to get sex into the spine of a story,' he said.

'It's very good advice and I pass it on to any young writers here.'

And Davies revealed he would continue his talent for 'sexing up' modern classics with three forthcoming television dramas.

The Cardiff-born writer - known as the king of the boddice-rippers - promised he would stay true to the raunchy text of Fanny Hill and also highlight steamy scenes from Brideshead Revisited and Sense and Sensibility which other writers had put in the background.

Meanwhile the 69-year-old said he wasn't convinced that he would return to writing original works in case he couldn't do them justice.

When asked about his own work he admitted that TV series A Very Peculiar Practice was a long time ago and there had been little since.

He said, 'What a lazy sod. That was 20 years ago but you need a lot of stamina to do one of those.

'And maybe everyone has only got one good one in them.

'I would not like to do a second-rate one.'

But after a year which has also seen him write The Chatterley Affair, Davies has no intention of stopping working on his literary adaptations.

He said, 'I think I am going to carry on and on and never give up.

'Sometimes when I am writing I absolutely hate it, I think I can't bring myself to sit here and to think of anything, it's so dull.

'Certainly in the last year I have had a big surge of energy.

'I had to do Bleak House really fast and I got into the pace of working. And I keep thinking of projects.'

He promised that with his next work, Fanny Hill, it was 'not going to be difficult to keep sex on the spine of the piece'.

The writer is also planning a 100-minute adaptation of Brideshead Revisited - a far cry from the epic 13-part series of the 1980s.

And he is also returning to Jane Austen with a version of Sense and Sensibility.

Admitting that there is always more material in an Austen novel he added that there was a certain back story he wanted to add to.

He said, 'I want to do justice to the back story, the one about Willoughby in particular, which is quite interesting and steamy stuff like a lot of underage sex that goes on and is just talked about. I want to put it on the screen.'

Though Davies joked about his reputation, he added that side of storytelling is something that is often neglected and shied away from. Whether he is writing about heterosexual or homosexual relationships the key for him, he said, was writing about love.

'I think a lot of people are a bit scared of it and just think to themselves that it's not important, which it always is,' he added.

Meanwhile the former teacher admitted that, despite winning a Bafta for the retelling of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, he was flummoxed by his first reading of the novel.

He said, 'I took it on holiday to Tobago and read it on the beach. I was infuriated with the bloody thing.'

Dickens' propensity to start stories and characters and then interrupt the drama to introduce a host of new characters made it difficult to adapt, he said, adding, 'I knew I was going to have to take the whole thing apart and put it back together again.' But it was the strong dialogue that Davies knew he could play with. He said, 'What's so much fun with Bleak House is that Dickens writes dialogue like The Fast Show or Little Britain, there are lots of catchphrases. 'I thought I wanted to write more of those in. 'I was very pleased to see you could buy one of them as a ringtone for your phone.': Today at Hay:Jeanette Winterson - The Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit author talks about and reads from her latest story Tanglewreck about a rabbit called Bigamist and Einstein's theory aimed at younger readers (11.30am) Margaret Atwood - The Canadian poet and writer reads from her new short-story collection and answers questions (1pm) Andy McNab - The SAS hero and author of Bravo Two Zero and script writer Robert Rigby discuss Avenger, the third book in the adrenalin-fuelled Boy Soldier series (1pm)

Seamus Heaney - The respected poet talks about his new collection District and Circle (5.30pm)

James Campbell's Comedy 4 Kids - The unique comedian brings his special kids-based humour to Hay (5.30pm)

Al Gore - The former Vice President of America will talk to a sold-out audience about nature and the potential catastrophes of global warming (7pm)

Llyr Williams - This performance is the first of the BBC Radio Three concerts (1pm) Charlie Higson - The comic and writer introduces Bond, young Bond, the boy who is not yet a spy (1pm) Chris Patten - Free from office the former Hong Kong Governor speaks out on the players and interests driving world politics (5.30pm) Richard Holmes and General Sir Rupert Smith - Holmes reports from his regiment's frontline tour of duty in Iraq.: Gore rights coup:The rights to former US Vice-President Al Gore's acclaimed documentary and book An Inconvenient Truth were bought in the UK on the eve of his sell-out performance at the Hay festival. Bloomsbury publishing has acquired the UK rights to the critically-acclaimed book, which will be released to coincide with the documentary's European debut in early September.

Gore is set to speak tonight and overwhelming interest in the former VP has meant a special tent will also screen the speech live.

An Inconvenient Truth is based on Gore's acclaimed documentary film about his campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognised problem.

It premiered at the Sundance Festival before heading to Cannes and being released in the States last Friday.

Bill Swainson, Bloomsbury senior commissioning editor, bought the book en route to Hay for an undisclosed sum. He said, 'It is a terrific coup for Bloomsbury and will make a real contribution to the move for political action on climate change.' Gore will take to the stage tonight at 7pm and is set to speak for 40 minutes before answering selected questions sent in by email.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 29, 2006
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