BBC's Bevan biopic axe 'a disgrace' - screenwriter Andrew Davies


Acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies has slammed the BBC's decision to drop a feature-length drama exploring the origins of the NHS as a "disgrace".

The writer, who celebrated his 80th birthday on Tuesday, is currently penning a BBC six-part adaptation of Les Miserables following his successful War And Peace series earlier this year.

Alongside Victor Hugo's 19th-century novel, Davies has been working on A Nation's Health - a biopic focusing on the post-war health minister and founder of the NHS Aneurin Bevan.

He said the BBC decided to drop the drama because it had "no room for it in their schedule".

Davies called the move a "bit of a disgrace", adding: "We're hoping that Channel 4 will put it on."

He told the Press Association: "It's a subject of national importance and huge historic significance.

"I don't know if they were nervous about the politics of it with the new Tory government."

Davies said the biopic would "help people to understand where it (the NHS) came from".

"It's an extraordinary story because Bevan was planning it during the war," he said.

"He was dodging bombs meanwhile being confident that we would win the war, that Labour would get in and that they would reform health and education."

Davies said he would still rather write for the BBC over online streaming services as he "would always most like to go out on a Sunday night in the traditional way".

But the original House Of Cards screenwriter admitted he enjoyed using Netflix because he can "binge watch like everybody else".

Davies, who is famous for his raunchy interpretations of classics, said he wanted to do justice to Les Miserables and dismissed the musical adaptation.

He said: "I don't think anybody has done justice to the book yet before. Certainly the musical doesn't, it is kind of a pathetic take on bits of the novel.

"But I think this will open people's eyes to what is actually there."

He added: "I think it has got an awfully lot of relevance at the moment.

"Be it people living on the streets there, and we've got the problem with migrants in terrible difficulty and there's a sort of humanity about it all that shines through."

Davies was speaking before a BFI screening of his 1987 TV drama Inappropriate Behaviour to mark his 80th birthday and more than 50 years spent writing.

As part of the celebration, a collection of his original works have been released on the BBC store website.

The digital anthology, which includes a number of his films from the 1970s and 1980s, was made available to buy from the BBC store on Tuesday.