Denis Meikle

Born: 1947 | Birthplace: Glasgow | Educated: Alleyn's School | Spouse: Jane | Children: Sarah, James | Resident: East Sussex

This 'Miscellany' section is a work in progress. Content is added on a continual basis.


unproduced screenplay

Michael Carreras had asked me to accompany him to an interview session at Millbank for a documentary on Hammer that was being produced by American fan Ted Newsom. In the cab on the way, he told me that he had lunched with someone at 20th Century Fox and elicited some interest in a remake of his 1960 Hammer film The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll - '..But we need a script,' he added. As a long-standing devotee of both the film and the Stevenson novella upon which it was based, I suggested in return that I might try to furnish one. Two weeks later, I presented Michael with a treatment - part-synopsis, part-dialogue - which he liked, but was keen to add as many contemporaneous personalities to the mix as possible: Prince Albert Victor, Oscar Wilde, 'Jack the Ripper' and so forth. I was less keen to litter the story with famous names and further discussion only reinforced the difference in approach. Fox's interest waned as quickly as it had come but as I now had a full-fledged screenplay in my possession, I eventually informed Michael that I was going to try to pitch it elsewhere.
      During a recent holiday in Cornwall, I had come across a company called Dreamscape filming a Beatrix Potter story called The Tale of Little Pig Robinson in Polperro, with Tim Spall in the lead role; Dreamscape head Tim Woolford had also produced a horror film with Spall, called The Dream Demon. This outfit seemed as likely a candidate as any, so off went the script. Within a few days, I (quite unexpectedly) received an early morning phone call: it was Woolford. 'I've read your script..' he began. '...Who do you see as Jekyll and Hyde?' I was caught completely off-guard. 'Well, I hadn't really thought about it..' I said. 'I see Sean Connery,' he replied. 'I see a $50 million production with Connery as the lead. Can you come up to London and meet with us..?'
      An appointment was arranged at Dreamscape's Charlotte Street headquarters in Soho and I soon found myself sitting opposite Woolford in his dimly-lit, top-floor office, dominated by an array of editing equipment. The meeting was not entirely productive - no offer of an option on the script was forthcoming; instead, I was merely assured that I would write it if the film went ahead and asked to supply some leaflets and promo material for Woolford to take to Cannes the following month in order to pitch the project. This I agreed to do and the bumph was duly despatched - but production was already underway at TriStar on Stephen Frears's big-budget adaptation of Valerie Martin's Jekyll-and-Hyde novel Mary Reilly, which proved ultimately to be a colossal misfire. Whether or not that had anything to do with it, I heard nothing further from Woolford or his company, which I believe went belly-up not long afterwards...