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Last on

Mon 27 Aug 2012 16:00 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
28 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 27 August 2012

Get Carter, starring Michael Caine, has been voted the best British film of all time in some recent polls, but its author, Ted Lewis, and his novel, Jack's Return Home - on which the film is based - are all but forgotten.

In the 30th anniversary of Lewis's untimely death, and as Radio Four broadcasts a new adaptation of the novel, the poet and critic Sean O'Brien traces the life-story and legacy of the multi-talented Ted Lewis.

Lewis's widow, Jo, and daughters, Sally and Nancy - who have never spoken about him in public before - recall his meteoric rise to fame as well as his later struggles. His agent, Toby Eady, old art-school friend, Ron Burnett, biographer Nick Triplow, and novelist Nicholas Blincoe contribute their thoughts and memories.

Sean O'Brien, who himself grew up in Hull, re-locates Lewis back in his own landscape on either bank of the river Humber, as he attempts to locate Lewis, in the literary sphere, as far more than a writer of tough genre fiction.

Just as Jack's Return Home describes a journey from 1960s gangland London home to Scunthorpe, so Sean traces Lewis's life-story. He follows the journey from Lewis's grammar school in isolated Barton on Humber to his art college in Hull, then on to success in swinging sixties London - as an animator on the Beatles's Yellow Submarine as well as a novelist and writer for Dr Who and Z Cars - culminating in his final return to unfashionable Scunthorpe back in the Lincolnshire wolds.

As Sean O'Brien concludes his journey, he reflects on the fact that most of Lewis's nine novels are currently unavailable, and hopes that this anniversary might be the beginning of a whole new era in the afterlife of a talented British artist and writer.

Producer Beaty Rubens.

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