|Len at the Imperial War Museum|
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Recalling Oh! What a Lovely War in SE1
"On a crisp, wintry afternoon last week, I joined Len Deighton at London's Imperial War Museum to film an interview for the BBC. Len rarely agrees to interviews these days, but on this occasion he was very happy to participate in a programme being produced by BBC South East Today to celebrate the film Oh! What A Lovely War as part of the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the First World War next year.
The film has a close association with Sussex – it was shot in the summer of 1968 in and around Brighton and the South Downs. Many landmarks in the area, including Ditchling Beacon, Brighton station and the West Pier, have a prominent place in the film, and most of the extras were recruited from the University of Sussex campus.
BBC South East will be examining the legacy of Oh! What a Lovely War with film and industry experts, reliving memories of the production with those involved and exploring the importance of the landscape of Sussex in the film. They are hoping to reunite many of the cast, and the extras, as well as showing the film to an invited audience in Brighton.
In the interview, we spoke about the origins of the film, and Len vividly recalled seeing Joan Littlewood's stage entertainment shortly after it opened in March 1963, and his risky ambition to make the movie when he acquired the film rights in 1966. The celebrated director Gene Kelly expressed an interest in directing the movie, and at one time Len had discussions with Paul McCartney about possible roles for the Beatles.
A must-see for everyone interested in the making of Oh! What a Lovely War, and in Brighton's storied legacy as a movie location, the programme is expected to air early next summer."