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Starting life again after my breakdown

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Cracking up
Ken Adam Artist
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I went back to London, and of course... and I cracked up, and had some psychiatric treatment in a hospital for some time, and I was getting better, but Stanley tried to ring me every day, and letting me know that he did the locations I had chosen, that he was going to do this and that, and so on. And he was obviously was very concerned about me, and the only funny situation that... I finally… and the psychiatrist said to me, 'Ken, you will never get better unless I can cut this umbilical cord between you and Stanley'. And finally I get home, I... someone, Letitzia had got a chauffeur to collect me in the Rolls, you know, and I arrived. And the doctor you were talking about was my doctor, my... he was very bright and a very good doctor, you know. And there's a phone call, and it's Stanley on the phone and he says, 'Ken, I'm so pleased that you are well again and, you know, all the things you wanted me to do, that you wanted me to send a second unit to Potsdam, near Berlin, to get some atmosphere?' I said, 'Yes, I remember all that', and he said, 'I've decided you are going to direct it'. Well, that gave me such a shock that the next day I was back in the clinic. I mean, now I can laugh about it, but he didn't see it that way at all, you know.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was 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: London, Berlin, Stanley Kubrick, Letizia Adam

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 11 November 2011