Next in BBC4’s ‘Modern Love’ series, following on from their adaptation of ‘Women in Love’, was to have been a version of John Braine’s ‘Angry Young Man’ novel, ‘Room at the Top’. Imagine my surprise last week when, about to tune in, I found that it had been replaced by a repeat of ‘Fanny Hill’ from (I think) 2008. There was no explanation as to why the adaptation had been pulled, and although it seemed slightly mysterious, I didn’t think much more about it. It was only when I was reading an article by Mark Lawson today that I discovered it had been removed from the schedules at the last minute because the BBC suddenly discovered that they didn’t own the rights to make it. It seems incredible that you could get to the eve of broadcast and not notice something like this, but according to Lawson it’s actually quite common, especially when the writer of the source material was notoriously dissolute and in the habit of writing promises for such things on the back of beermats and cocktail napkins.
No doubt this will get sorted out in time, when the greedy lawyers have had their chance to make some money, and hopefully ‘Room at the Top’ will be on our screens before too long. It looked like a faithful version of the novel, and a good chance to popularise a part of English literary history that is now curiously underappreciated.