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Chicago recce


Adapting Pennies from Heaven for the big screen
Ken Adam Artist
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There was a TV film of Pennies from Heaven made in England. It was a script by Dennis Potter, and Dennis wrote the script also for Hollywood, but it was much more difficult because in the English Pennies from Heaven the actor, whose name now escapes me, was a typical Cockney actor, and the moment you… the audience saw him they knew he was a Cockney and where he was coming from.

[Q] Bob Hoskins?

Yeah, Bob Hoskins, absolutely, and this didn't... doesn't exist in America, so we had a lot of discussions who could play that part, and finally Herb [Ross] came up with Steve Martin, who had played comedy roles and was a big star in comedy, but who didn't really know how to dance, so he had to have an enormous amount of dancing lessons.


Sir Kenneth Adam, OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam in 1921, is a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Pennies from Heaven, Dennis Potter, Bob Hoskins, Herbert Ross, Steven Martin

Duration: 1 minute, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 18 November 2011