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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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The Song Of Lunch – Alan Rickman

English actor and director Alan Rickman stars in The Song Of Lunch. Here, he explains what drew him to the drama:

"The writing, as ever. I'm guided by the quality of the writing – when it's that good you just put your hat and coat on.

"I wasn't aware of The Song Of Lunch but I knew A Scattering and, in fact, I was at drama school with Christopher Reid's wife, Lucinda – who is its subject. I was always very acutely aware of that extraordinary piece of work."

What were your first impressions when you heard about the idea of dramatising the poem?

"I thought Greg (Wise) was absolutely right. This is a really interesting use of two mediums, poetry and television becoming a third – drama."

Are you a lover of poetry?

"Absolutely, yes – my English O Level teachers would kill me if I said I wasn't!"

How did you prepare for your role?

"I just read it and read it and read it. Like all good writing, you have to put yourself at its service. It has to invade you and inhabit you but it will always have its own rhythms - particularly so with this. So you read and read it, you get to know it and then all preparation goes out the window when you realise you only have a short period to shoot it. So it becomes preparation on the one hand and complete improvisation on the other.

How did it feel to be reunited with your friend Emma Thompson?

"It is a gift, a privilege – you're working with a great friend. We've acted together and I've directed her, as well. But its not like putting on a slipper, there's a challenge involved because she's an artist and she's a brain and she's a will and she's a power and a force and that's all very challenging, but that's what I like."

You're no stranger to the BBC, but how did it feel to be back?

"It's not really about me, it's about the piece. I'm happy to be part of a piece of drama which is going out on BBC Two and I'm happy to be holding this flag up for something called a script with a director, actors and a process, rather than pointing a camera at something loosely called reality.

"Hopefully, this piece is reality but with heart and compassion and words that are in danger of becoming extinct. Drama lassoes them all up if it's developed and made a priority. It helps to protect the English language in all its richness but this is wonderfully crafted but very modern English at the same time, so it's not stuffy in any way."

How did you find the whole experience?

"I really enjoyed it and I hope for more of this kind of material on the box in the corner of the living room."

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