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Drew Tosh chats with Jonathan Harvey

Drew Tosh chats with Jonathan Harvey

Hope Mill Theatre’s upcoming “An Evening With Jonathan Harvey”, promises to be an entertaining online mix of music, memories and special performances. 

Harvey’s back catalogue includes TV comedies “Gimme Gimme Gimme” and “Beautiful People”, much loved play “Beautiful Thing” and currently, he writes for “Coronation Street”. Drew Tosh quizzed him about his big night.

“An Evening With” sounds a bit like “This Is Your Life”. Are you prepared to be asked anything and everything and be surprised by your old English teacher? More importantly, have you got a big finish planned?

I’ve always got a big finish planned! I’m not expecting too many surprises. I’m so old I imagine all my teachers are dead.

There are numerous guests contributing to the evening – can you give away any secrets?

Contributors include an Oscar winner and an Olivier winner, so it’s winner winner chicken dinner.

Soaps reflect reality but we also need escapism more than ever at the moment. As one of the “Corrie” writing team, how tricky is it to think about incorporating Covid into storylines, especially while viewers are still living through it?

It’s very tricky. As things are evolving daily it’s hard because we write so far in advance. Who knows what situation we’ll be in in six months time

Do you ever suffer from the dread of many writers’ - the’ blank page syndrome’? If so, how do you jolt yourself out of it? Can you sit down and write to order?

I’m lucky that I get to do lots of different jobs so I rarely don’t know at least what’s expected at me. But yes, some days it’s like pulling teeth. This is why I’m so active on social media.

“Beautiful Thing” has had many stage incarnations. Why do you think it has resonated with audiences through the years?

It’s a good one for theatres to put on because it’s not expensive. Just one set, five actors. I also think it’s an honest love story. Everyone remembers sharing a bed for the first time, making the first move, their first snog, so it resonates in that way I think.

Your “An Evening With” culminates with the launch of “Through The Mill”, Hope Mill Theatre’s new playwriting competition where you will mentor the finalists. How important an opportunity is this for writers and will you be a hard taskmaster as a mentor?

I got into writing by entering competitions so I’m all for them. The best thing for any playwright is to hear and see their work read and performed. That’s the best way to learn your craft so the winner of this competition will learn loads. When I was a teacher, a million years ago, my appraisal from my manager said I was ‘fair but firm’… as a mentor, I reckon I’ll be that.

How do you feel about the current arts crisis?

There should be a way through because theatre is big business. Money has now been promised for the sector. I just hope smaller spaces survive, not just the big West End houses. 

You wrote the book for the Dusty Springfield musical and for the Pet Shop Boys’ “Musik”. A few years back, Victoria Wood wrote a hit show for Mrs Overall so surely ‘Lynda la Hughes – the Musical’ is long overdue?

Don’t encourage her. Can you imagine? Nauseating.

 “An Evening With Jonathan Harvey”

Saturday 18 / Sunday 19 July @ 8pm Tickets £10 available via read story below

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Published: 14-Jul-2020

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