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Bernard Voisin: the shipbuilder
Ken Adam Artist
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And it was very funny, because he came from a very famous Brittany family. His father was Gabriel Voisin, who had designed and built all these cars, the Voisin cars, between the two wars, you know, and Bernard married into a very wealthy South of France family. He brought his brother along too – it was a very… I mean, that's… you write a book... I can write a book on that family, in that fantastic villa which is still there in the South of France. So he was an adventurer in many ways, you know, and he was a very good diver, so he dived down into the dock and attached all the things, you see.

He also disappeared, you know – his wife was going crazy. He disappeared to Brittany with a truck to get some of the rigging which we needed down in Villefranche for the ship, you see, and he disappeared in Brittany. Nobody knew where he was, no phone, and about a week later he came down with an American sort of six-ton truck full of rigging and masts and spars, and so on.

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: Brittany, France, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Captain Horatio Hornblower, Bernard Voisin, Gabriel Viosin

Duration: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 14 September 2011