George Faber was a producer working his way up through the BBC Screenplay strand. He liked my films and we went for a coffee. He predicted we would make a film together and two years later, when George had risen through the system, (ultimately to become Head of Drama), he put me together with Jimmy McGovern.
NEEDLE was Jimmy’s first feature length BBC drama. It told the story of a young heroin addict, starring Sean McKee and Pete Postlethwaite, backed up a superb young cast of Liverpool actors. Jimmy is a passionate writer and it was obvious back then that a powerful new voice had emerged.
We became so absorbed in drug imagery, distorted faces in spoons etc – images I have since seen many times, but had not back then. I learned that it is really not hard to put a camera together with drugs and create something compelling. As usual, I think the strength of a story lies in the performance.
I especially loved the central performance from Sean McKee. Jimmy had written a scene where Sean is so busy trying to woo back his wife that he walks into a lamppost. I think we had over a dozen takes trying to perfect this. Sean had to hit the post without seeing it, then hit the deck. It takes a special kind of actor to manage all that convincingly.
This was also my first time working with Pete Posthelwaite, now sadly deceased. We worked together on my next Screen 2 BBC Film THE GRASS ARENA. Pete always injected so much energy on set, contributed powerful character, pathos and humour.