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This Sporting Life by David Storey
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This Sporting Life

by David Storey

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Showing 3 of 3
autumn-2013, radio-4, published-1960, sport, under-500-ratings
Read from September 01 to 02, 2013

BBC BLURB: As part of Radio 4's celebration of British New Wave film and cinema, Johnny Vegas directs a feature-length radio reversioning of This Sporting Life - marking the 50th anniversary of the classic Lindsay Anderson film which starred the young Richard Harris.

This new version is adapted by Andrew Lynch, directly from David Storey's novel. A surprisingly beautiful, yet repressed, northern drama, it contrasts the deep wants and needs of protagonist Arthur Machin with the stark aggression of the rugby pitch.

The sounds are rich - the rugby scrum, the atmosphere of the match, the changing rooms, the dancehall, struggles in the bedroom, arguments by the kitchen hearth.

James Purefoy plays Arthur Machin and Emily Watson is Mrs Hammond, accompanied on the touchline by an ensemble cast including John Thomson, Julia Davis, Sheridan Smith and Philip Jackson.

Commentary for the Rugby League game-play is provided by commentator Ray French, who witnessed some of the filming of the 1963 film with Richard Harris.

Dramatised from David Storey's original novel by Andrew Lynch

Producer: Sally Harrison Director: Johnny Vegas

A Woolyback production for BBC Radio 4.

'There are three types of athlete: the nervous, the scientific, and the animal.'

Original Coronation Street Theme Tune
3 likes ( )
  mimal | Sep 3, 2013 |
For as long as I can remember, an early paperback edition of this novel lived on the shelves at my family home, but for some reason I never read it, at least not beyond the first page where our hero gets his front teeth broken. Probably this was due to my squeamish response to would-be working-class kitchen-sink fiction at that time. Having now finished it I can see how it must have caused a stir as a first novel back in 1960, but also how it has dated somewhat despite its worthy virtues. There is a technical issue too. Arthur Machin is no mug, in fact he is a sharp ambitious lad for whom rugby league is a means to an end, but as a first-person narrator he has also to utter the flashes of gritty poetry Storey wants to include, and I’m sorry that doesn’t work. The ‘brown industrial water’ beneath the New Bridge apparently ‘swirled in slow volutes’ past the wall on p.239, but it’s Storey who’s seeing and saying that, not Arthur the man-mountain. Half a century later there is some period detail to cherish, as there would be in any novel of the era, but my overall impression was of a league football setting for a somewhat disappointingly generic tale not too dissimilar from the trajectory of Sillitoe, Braine and Barstow fictions. ( )
  sagitprop | Sep 27, 2011 |
A sad but moving novel set among the rugby league world of Northern England. It was made into an excellent movie with Richard Harris (many years ago) and was one of the few cases that the movie was as good as the book ( )
1 vote Mouldywarp | Oct 7, 2009 |
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A rugby player finds fame and fortune in a bleak mining town, but he cannot outrun the emptiness he feels inside in Man Booker Prize?winning author David Storey?s seminal first novel On Christmas Eve, Arthur breaks his two front teeth. A teammate on the rugby pitch is too slow with a handoff, and instead of catching the ball, Art catches an opponent?s foot right in the mouth. When he regains consciousness, the match is almost over, but he keeps playing regardless. Where else would he go? His entire life, Art has only cared about sports and nothing grabs his attention quite like the lightning-fast violence of Rugby League. He knows it could kill him, but it also makes him feel alive. In this hard-bitten Yorkshire mining town, the warriors of the rugby pitch are treated like gods. Through the aggressive sport, Art finds money, friends, and countless women. But when his lust for violence begins to fade, will he have the courage to leave the game behind?… (more)

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