Frequently Asked Questions: Film, Television & DVDs

This page contains FAQs concerning Alan Ayckbourn on film, video and DVD. If there is a question not listed here which you feel should be listed, please contact the website via the Contact Us page.

1) Which Alan Ayckbourn plays have been adapted into films?
2) Which Alan Ayckbourn plays have been adapted for television?
3) Which of these adaptations have been made available commercially?
4) Is there a specific reason why so few of these adaptations have been made available?
5) Will Season's Greetings or any of the other filmed adaptations be released in the foreseeable future?
6) Has Alan ever written scripts specifically for film and / or television?
7) What was the connection between Alan Ayckbourn and the French film director Alain Resnais?
8) Is A Chorus Of Disapproval available to buy on video or DVD?
9) Where can I obtain the commercially released filmed adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays?

1) Which Alan Ayckbourn plays have been adapted into films?
Michael Winner adapted A Chorus Of Disapproval, Malcolm Mowbray adapted The Revengers' Comedies and Alain Resnais adapted Intimate Exchanges into the two films Smoking / No Smoking as well as Private Fears In Public Places and Life Of Riley.

2) Which Alan Ayckbourn plays have been adapted for television?
The following plays have been adapted for television in the UK: Absent Friends; Absurd Person Singular; Bedroom Farce; A Cut In The Rates; By Jeeves; Countdown; Ernie's Incredible Illucinations; Just Between Ourselves; Men On Women On Men; The Norman Conquests; Relatively Speaking (1969); Relatively Speaking (1989); The Revengers' Comedies; Season's Greetings; Time And Time Again; Way Upstream. A number of international adaptations have also been made for television.

3) Which of these adaptations have been made available commercially?
Very few of the filmed adaptations have been made available commercially. These are: The Norman Conquests; A Chorus Of Disapproval; The Revengers' Comedies; Smoking / No Smoking; By Jeeves; Private Fears In Public Places with Life Of Riley scheduled for a 2015 release. A complete list can be found at the foot of this page.

4) Is there a specific reason why so few of these adaptations have been made available?
There is no obvious reason why the television adaptations have not been made available on DVD. In all likelihood it is a commercial decision by the TV film / producer, such as the BBC. Their release is not being blocked by Alan Ayckbourn and he has never expressed any opposition to them being made available commercially.

5) Will Season's Greetings or any of the other filmed adaptations be released commercially in the foreseeable future?
At the present time, Alan Ayckbourn is not aware of any plans by the BBC in the foreseeable future to release Season's Greetings or any of the other film adaptations of his work onto DVD or digital download.
As mentioned in question 6, the decision to release these programmes on DVD is that of the commercial rights holder (in the case of
Season's Greetings, this being the BBC), not Alan Ayckbourn; he has no opposition to films such as Season's Greetings, Absent Friends and Absurd Person Singular being made available commercially.

6) Has Alan ever written scripts specifically for film / and or television?
Despite his love of cinema, Alan has never written an original screenplay for film, nor has he adapted any of his plays into filmed screenplays. Contrary to belief, Alan did not write the final screenplay of A Chorus Of Disapproval. Michael Winner adapted the play, this was then given to Alan who spent a day revising it and trying to restore elements which had been lost. This screenplay was then again adapted by Michael Winner into the final product which bears little resemblance to the original play or author's intentions.
Alan has written just one screenplay for television.
Service Not Included is a 30 minute piece, written for a BBC educational series. Alan also wrote a number of sketches for Ronnie Barker's comedy show Hark At Barker under the pseudonym of Peter Caulfield.

7) What was the connection between Alan Ayckbourn and the French film director Alain Resnais?
The acclaimed French film director Alain Resnais was a long-term fan of Alan Ayckbourn's plays and, unknown to the playwright, had been making regular trips to the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, during the 1980s to see his plays. In 1989 during the world premiere run of The Revengers' Comedies, Alan Ayckbourn was told by a member of the staff Resnais was in the audience - Alan disbelievingly replied "And Jean-Luc Goddard is in the toilet...'. The pair subsequently met for the first time and forged a long-standing and affectionate friendship. It was Alain Resnais who approached Alan Ayckbourn about adapting his plays into films - it's unlikely Alan would ever have believed Resnais would have been interested. Alain initially asked to adapt the epic play-cycle Intimate Exchanges into the two films Smoking / No Smoking (Alan again noted the madness of this and Resnais couldn't possibly be meaning to film all 16 variations, to which Resnais apparently replied, of course not, just 12 of them...). He later adapted Private Fears In Public Places into the film Coeurs and Resnais's final film before his death in March 2014 was Aimer, Boire et Chanter (an adaptation of Life Of Riley). Prior to his death, Resnais was already working on a screenplay for his next project, an adaptation of Alan's play Arrivals & Departures.
Of all the filmed adaptations of his work, Alan is most fond of the Resnais movies and believes they are the ones which remain most true to the plays. As to why Resnais's adaptations work so well, Alan has frequently noted he is a playwright who writes films for the stage and Resnais was a director who made plays for the screen.

8) Is A Chorus Of Disapproval available to buy on video or DVD?
A Chorus Of Disapproval, directed by Michael Winner, was released in the UK on a region 2 DVD on 7 May 2007. It was also released on video in 1991, but has long since been deleted.

9) Where can I obtain the commercially released filmed adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays?
The Ayckbourn Shop on this website contains links to amazon.co.uk for all filmed adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays which are currently available either new or second-hand. Click here to visit The Ayckbourn Shop.

Alan Ayckbourn Films / TV Adaptations Released Commercially
The Norman Conquests (VHS, 1980): Deleted
The Norman Conquests (region 2 DVD, 2005): Deleted
The Norman Conquests (region 1 DVD, 2011): Available
The Norman Conquests (digital platforms - USA only, 2011): Available
The Norman Conquests (region 2 DVD, 2014): Available
A Chorus Of Disapproval (VHS, 1991): Deleted
A Chorus Of Disapproval (region 2 DVD, 2007): Available
Smoking / No Smoking (VHS, 1994): Deleted
Smoking / No Smoking (region 2 DVD - France only, 2005): Available
The Revengers' Comedies (VHS, 2001): Deleted
Sweet Revenge (region 1 DVD, 2001): Deleted
By Jeeves (VHS, 2001): Deleted
By Jeeves (region 2 DVD, 2002): Available
Private Fears In Public Places (region 1 / 2 DVD, 2007): Available
Life Of Riley (blu-ray / dvd, digital platforms, 2015): Available

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd