As BBC2 marked the 50th anniversary of a momentous meeting between Elvis Presley and The Beatles, LJMU lecturer Jeff Young penned a drama for the occasion inspired by the secret meeting that took place in Elvis’s Bel Air mansion in 1965.
Jeff, who teaches on the Writing MA postgraduate programme at LJMU and is a writer for theatre, radio, TV and film, recreated the meeting for the BBC, inviting listeners to be a fly on the wall. He provided an insight into how music broke the ice between the two parties and even who sang the mythical jam session.
One of the BBC’s most experienced radio dramatists with over 25 radio plays broadcast in the last 20 years, plus a major stage adaptation of The Who’s Quadrophenia, Jeff’s position as a lecturer allows him to bring this vast experience into his postgraduate teachings at the Liverpool Screen School.
He commented: “It’s important for students to have the opportunity to learn from practising and published writers with current industry experience. The writing process, adaptation skills and even networking techniques are all aspects of my career that I am always keen to work into the postgraduate programme for students.”
Speaking about the play, Jeff told the BBC: “I was a big Beatles fan when I was younger, but for this project, initially, I knew very little about the Elvis and Beatles meeting. Then as I began researching the story, the strangeness of the meeting and the psychological dimensions, the dramatic opportunities became obvious. The larger than life characters involved, including Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker, all set against a backdrop of corrupt American politics and the disastrous war in Vietnam, made for a strange and compelling narrative.
“The piece that has emerged is a kind of fake documentary. Elvis’s life was an American Tragedy and the seeds of it are sown here in this meeting between the King and the pretenders to the throne. The Beatles were so young, bewildered and overwhelmed by their rapid rise to fame. In writing this drama I went back my old Beatles records and I became a Beatles fan, all over again.”
Listen to the BBC Radio 2 celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of a momentous meeting between Elvis Presley and The Beatles, and an interview with Jeff Young on BBC Radio Merseyside (at approx 23 minutes)
For more information on Writing MA at LJMU go to the website.