One of the most iconic novels and movies about a sentient machine, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is getting a sequel.
Over at the Guardian, Frank Cottrell Boyce talks about following up the Ian Fleming novel, adapted for the screen by Roald Dahl. Which is two tough acts to follow. But can this installment possibly live up to Dick Van Dyke's unforgettable mockney accent? Or Gert "Goldfinger" Frobe's cuddly toy-obsessed villain? So many questions.
Writing a new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang book gave me the chance to harness a potent pleasure that I couldn't generate myself: nostalgia. It worked for Russell T Davis when he took on Doctor Who and for Steven Moffat when he set Sherlock in the present day. Obviously it would work for me. Except . . . the book was written by Ian Fleming and the film by Roald Dahl. These are two fairly tough acts to follow. Two men with an expertise in violence and revenge – who had both worked as spies in the war. These are not the type of ghosts you want to upset. I didn't want to step into giant shoes. I wanted to stand on giant shoulders.
My salvation turned out to be the car. Because Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a real car – a series of four real cars in fact – built by Count Louis Zborowski for racing at Brooklands and for land speed records. Their monstrous engines were so loud a bylaw was passed banning them from Canterbury city centre. The fourth Chitty was ceremonially buried on Pendine Sands after being wrecked in a land speed record. Somehow knowing the car was real and that Fleming's brilliant invention was just one episode in its life, freed me to play with the whole of its history, real and imaginary. I came up with a modern-day family who find the engine in a scrapyard and use it to soup up their camper van, not knowing that this is an engine with a mind – and an agenda – of its own.
Tons more, including how Boyce came to be writing a new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang book, at the link. [Guardian]