Archive for Toby Luttrell

Meeting Graham Carter

Posted in Books, Investigations with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2009 by mrtoppit

Graham Carter

Last week I lunched with a legend. Without this man’s guile, temerity and good grace we, the people of the world, would not have had the pleasure of reading Arthur Hayman’s Hayseed Chronicles.

Graham Carter, Arthur’s onetime editor and publisher, now divides his time between his role as a literary agent and family life. During the leisurely lunch Graham, a natural raconteur, regaled me with his recollections of Arthur, Martha (pictured below in the Darkwood), Luke and Rachel as well as his experience of the Hayseed phenomenon in the 1980s.

Martha Hayman

While he turned down Charles Elton’s request for an interview (out of respect for the Hayman family) he is, like myself, curious to see if Penguin’s publication of Mr Toppit will spark a revival of his ‘old books’ as he calls them. As shrewd as ever, he has suggested to his successor at The Carter Press to rush through some re-editions of all five books of The Hayseed Chronicles.

Carter Press Catalogue

After lunch, Graham took me back to his rather palatial office on the Strand to show me some of his own ephemera, which he kindly allowed me to photograph and reproduce here. My particular favourites are these samples of his correspondance. In a letter from Arthur to Graham, Arthur notes his humbling pleasure at receiving finished copies of Garden Grown.

Letter from Arthur Hayman to Graham Carter

Martha’s caustic wit is on full show here, as she argues with the direction the dutch publisher’s design department are taking with their edition.

Letter from Martha Hayman to Graham Carter

His collection also included this wonderful Poloroid of Luke Hayman standing uncomfortably next to the actor Toby Luttrell, on set at the BBC. As a slight aside, I have just read about this very moment in Mr Toppit, and Charles Elton does have a knack for conjuring the excruciating awkwardness this incident produced in Luke.

Luke Hayman and Toby Luttrell

As lunch drifted into late afternoon, and the sun began its decent over the Thames, I thanked Graham for his time and kindness. He had given me so much in those brief hours I was in awe and indebted. As I made my way from his office I left this remarkable man, blue in the lip from wine and wet in the eye from memories of a dear old friend, long gone, but not forgotten.

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eBay Excitement

Posted in Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by mrtoppit

Fifty Great British Pounds seems like a lot to spend on a little over 130mm of plastic in these times of economic turmoil. But this Luke Hayseed action figure from the BBC adaptation of the Hayseed Chronicles is worth every penny.

Luke Hayseed Action Figure 1

Once Hayseed hysteria hit America, The Carter Press was inundated with requests from Hollywood to option the series into a full scale motion picture. Despite the astronomical figures running across Graham Carter’s desk, it was Arthur Hayman’s widow, Martha, that had the final say on the matter and her mind was swayed by a hand written note from a Junior Script Editor at the BBC.

Luke Hayseed Action Figure 2

Jake Cotton (known to colleagues as “Joke Cotton” due his general ineptness) had languished in White City for longer than he cared to remember and saw The Hayseed Chronicles as a way to make a name for himself. Legend has it that he wrote to Martha directly, mentioning his interest in her PhD on the First Crusade in his covering letter. A lunch was organised, a contract signed and the rest is history.

Luke Hayseed Action Figure 3

The action figure is based on the likeness of Toby Luttrell, a regular in Grange Hill, a bit part player in Bugsy Malone, and the young British actor cast to play Luke Hayseed in the six-part BBC miniseries of The Hayseed Chronicles. The series was a huge success both sides of the Atlantic and my old VHS tapes are practically worn out from extensive watching. Does anybody know if the BBC are planning to reissue them on DVD?

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