Oscar nominee and Bafta-winning screenwriter Jeff Pope never forgets his roots as a newspaper reporter. “It always starts with a story,” he told his Bristol audience after a preview of his latest work, ITV series Archie, a four-part drama about Hollywood superstar Cary Grant, born in Bristol as Archie Leach.
Pope spent nine years getting to know Grant’s daughter, Jennifer, after picking up her autobiography in an airport bookshop, researching Grant’s roots and complicated, heartbreaking background in the West Country.
Pope, executive producer on the series, and producer Rebecca Hodgson unpacked the challenges of shooting a period drama taking in 1900s Bristol and 1960s Hollywood glamour. “We let the budget drive how we were going to make it, blending different styles and eras,” said Pope.
Hodgson, added: “We called it creative cutting, we embraced archive, different frame rates and film formats, plus we had a great VFX team”
Drama producer Kate Cook led the Q&A at the Watershed cinema event, where Laura Aikman, who plays Dyan Cannon, talked about the responsibility of playing Grant’s fourth wife: “We are friends now; she was incredibly generous with her time, I wanted to do her justice.”
Calam Lynch shared his approach to playing the young Archie Leach. He watched many Grant films and was struck by his “sense of fun on screen”. He also talked of working with a dialect coach to change from the star’s Bristol accent to the mid- Atlantic diction he adopted.