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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: April 2021

23 - Return to Europe


BY THE TIME we moved back to our London home at Oakwood Court in 1994 our children had become adults. Helena had finished her degree studies in art history and was working in a nursery school with young children while studying art therapy; she lived in a Notting Dale flat we bought with the proceeds of selling our little terrace cottage in La Garde-Freinet. Lukas had achieved a Cambridge degree in classics but was intent on a career as a music producer – he was already working in the world of pop and ‘garage’ rock, for which I could summon up no sympathy though I admired his determination, and still do now that he is running his own company in Los Angeles, making trailers for major movies. I had just turned sixty-three, which is close to the conventional age for ‘retirement’, but I had no desire to stop working (nor indeed sufficient accumulated income) so I was intrigued when Revel Guest, a friend from BBC days, offered me a job as consultant for her new venture, a production company called Covent Garden Pioneer; with Japanese support, she was challenging the National Video Corporation's sphere of interest in opera and ballet but specialising in the brand-new format of LaserDiscs.

To the casual eye these 12-inch discs resembled long-playing records but they performed like CDs and needed a special player. Revel Guest is just a few months younger than me. She had been in Current Affairs at Lime Grove in the 1960s, directing films for Panorama, and soon after I left for ITV she also jumped ship and became an independent, founding an international production company called Transatlantic Films. I admired her independence and got on well with her ebullient Bostonian husband Rob Albert, a lawyer. Rob's sister Joy was married to a London dentist named Lionel Bryer. Together they created the much-admired European Community Youth Orchestra. I commissioned an Aquarius documentary about the orchestra, shot in Aberdeen by Tony Palmer in 1972. This gave the first hint on television of the musical excitements to come from that excellent initiative, notably when Claudio Abbado was its music director.