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Slim Pickens

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The problem with Peter Sellers improvising dialogue
Ken Adam Artist
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He had Peter cast as the President of the USA, the commander of the nuclear bomber, the B-52, and... and the RAF Group Captain, aid to George C Scott, who played General… I can’t remember the name, but whatever it was.

Ripper?

Yes, General Ripper. And... though we were in tears half the time, because Peter just... invented dialogue. I mean, also as the RAF officer he was talking suddenly during the attack, about the string in his leg, you know from the war still, and it was not in the script even though we had Terry Southern who was a very brilliant and funny scriptwriter. But our big problem, and the people around him, their problem and the other actors’ problem was to keep a straight face when Peter was improvising.

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: President of the United States, USA, RAF, Royal Air Force, Stanley Kubrick, Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, Terry Southern

Duration: 1 minute, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 07 September 2011