Sunday, 21 March 2010


Hello Everyone
I've just found my audio tape of this radio show and it got me thinking while listening to it of something i could put on my blog for you all to read, so here it is. Enjoy!
DATED: 9th October 1990

Description: John talked about his life & work including references to his wife Sheila Hancock and his roles in Inspector Morse & The Sweeney and choose 8 records to take to a desert island (see below).
Interviewer: Sue Lawley.

1. Sibelius - Fifth Symphony in E flat Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Herbert Von Karajan. [John started to love classical music while at RADA and it was here that the breakthrough piece was Sibelius' Fifth Symphony - the first record played on the programme. John was playing Mephistopheles in a student production of Goethe's Faust and becoming anxious about the role and his ability to identify with it. Tom (Courtenay) advised him to listen to the Sibelius which he thought might help his friend and flatmate to work out something in the Mephistopheles persona. 'I was skeptical at first, but the moment I heard that music, I was transfixed and everything fell into place,' Thaw recalled.]

2. Puccini - 'In Questa Regia' from Turandot, sung by Dame Eva Turner, London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli (Covent Garden 1937). [John first heard this while vacuum cleaning his Kensington flat, as a young actor. He was bowled over by the power of the singing which he could hear coming from the radio above the noise of the Hoover.]

3. Elgar - Cello Concerto (Opus 85) Jacqueline Du Pré, London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli.

4. Schubert - Adagio from Quintet in C major (Opus 163) Pablo Casals, Isaac Stern, Paul Tortelier, Alexander Schneider, Milton Katims. [Like the earlier Sibelius and Puccini pieces, records three and four are profoundly moving. 'Your choices are likely to make you weep as much as to bring you comfort,' observed Lawley dryly. 'Yes,' was Thaw's simple answer. 'More than likely. There are buckets of tears there waiting to be shed if I'm caught unawares.']

5. Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin - 'Little Girls' from Annie, sung by Sheila Hancock. [Lawley talked at some length about Thaw's long and happy second marriage to actress Sheila Hancock. Unsurprisingly, the only record chosen that was not classical was one by his wife singing 'Little Girls' in the musical Annie.]

6. Mozart - Overture to The Magic Flute Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Otto Klemperer. [John fell in love with The Magic Flute the first time he saw it, and therefore it's no surprise that he wanted part of its overture with him.]

7. Richard Strauss - Four Last Songs Elizabeth Schwarzkopf Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra con¬ducted by George Szell. [He laughed, too, about his imagined affair with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, saying, 'Sheila and I always say that Schwarzkopf is the only woman in the world who could ever rival Sheila as far as I'm concerned'.]

8. J. S. Bach - 'Erbarme Dich mein Gott' from St Matthew Passion Marga Hoffgen Stuttgart Radio Orchestra*. [John Thaw's final record choice was the searingly beautiful and poignant contralto aria 'Erbarme Dich mein Gott' from St Matthew Passion. 'It makes me cry,' he said, adding that if he could take only one record to his desert island, it would be this one.]

There was nothing shallow, brash or aggressive about John Thaw, as this revealing interview made very clear. He was privately much further from some of the abrasive characters he immortalized than many of his admirers realized at the time.

(*John Thaw's single choice was he reduced to only one record)

Book - apart from the Bible and Shakespeare, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. [John would often read this book to his children and hoped when his grandchildren were old enough to understand it he would read it to them. sadly, as we know that wasn't to be.]

One luxury - a comfortable armchair. [John joked about the quality of the soft furnishings in the matrimonial home, 'Sheila and I always had stiff necks and sore backs by Sunday evening after a day spent sitting over the Sunday papers. Then one day, we realized that we were probably sitting on the most uncomfortable chairs in London - so we bought six lovely new ones,' John said, explaining why his chosen desert island luxury would be a very soft, very comfortable, armchair.]

The above in bold is taken from the book - John Thaw 1942-2002 An Appreciation by Susan Elkin

1 comment:

RHobbs said...

These are good choices. He certainly would have an ecletic group of recordings. Throw in the opera Der Rostenkelen and it would be complete.