On Saturday, I went to see a performance of Benidorm at the Edinburgh Playhouse, based upon the ITV2 comedy of the same name. It even featured some of the actors.
The TV series is already rather theatrical in nature, like a Carry On film with a more modern attitude. As such, it transferred very well to the stage.
Sometimes, though, adapting a story from one medium into another is a hit-or-miss affair.
Those I enjoyed include the 2004 film Layer Cake, then I discovered it’s so closely based on the novel by J. J. Connolly that it even contains direct quotes. Similarly, The Thirty-Nine Steps worked as a mock radio adaptation performed on stage, even though the plot was stripped down to the bare essentials.
Yet I was disappointed by the film version of one of my favourite books, Starter For Ten, perhaps because it deviates from the first-person point of view. And the 2016 Dad’s Army movie opened to lacklustre reviews, with The Guardian asking why we needed a film version of a much-loved TV series.
One classic case of an author disowning a film version is Roald Dahl’s reaction to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He disliked the plot changes and musical numbers so much that no other screenplays of his work were authorised until after his death.
A few years ago, I posed a question to Irvine Welsh at a book signing about his thoughts on adaptation, considering how many of his novels have been on the big screen. He replied that he considered film to be a different medium and he accepted that changes sometimes had to be made.
‘And,’ he concluded, ‘it never hurts book sales.’