Writer and Producer

Bill Dare on Brian Gulliver

bill dare

DSC00740BBC Radio 4 website.

Bill Dare has produced critically acclaimed comedy for both TV and radio, including Dead Ringers, Spitting Image and the Now Show. In more recent years he has become a prolific writer, penning scripts for stage, screen and radio. Brian Gulliver’s Travels is once such work.

Bill, how would you sum up the show for new listeners?

‘Brian Gulliver’s extraordinary tales of his adventures in an undiscovered continent.’

How did you come to write Brian Gulliver’s Travels?

I’m an admirer of George Orwell, Jonathan Swift and Douglas Adams and wanted to write a satire set in another world. I’m not a great fan of science fiction that involves robots and monsters though, so having someone lost in a new terrestrial continent seemed the best way forward. Giving Brian the surname Gulliver helps the listener into the concept, and means there’s less explaining for me to do; in other words, I cheated.

One of the best things about writing this series is that I have at last been able to put my philosophy degree to good use, and not many philosophy graduates can do that.

I enjoy grappling with big ideas like altruism – can it exist without religion? How and why did it revolve? Why do humans have no means of forgetting things we don’t want to remember? Why are we so predisposed to think inductively? Why do we eat rabbits but not horses? Why can’t we sell our body parts? Where is the line between personal responsibility and mental illness? What would happen in a world where men are treated as sex objects?

Before he disappeared, some may have described Brian as a womanising minor celebrity with a penchant for drink. How do you see him?

Brian was described by his ex wife as a womanising minor celebrity with a penchant for drink. Brian doesn’t see himself like that at all; he sees himself as an intellectual travel writer, a cultural commentator with the highest moral standards who occasionally falls prey to those animal appetites that affect us all. His intellect is only deployed if it doesn’t get in the way of his sensual pleasures. I would describe Brian as a hedonist in denial – he’s utterly self-serving but would never admit it, even to his god.

Tell us about some of the countries that Brian visits on his travels…

Brian goes to the country of Gelbetia, where every human shortcoming can be described in terms of a medical condition. In another land those who believe in Nature are at war with the ones believing in Nurture. In Cognitia, the natives can forget any unpleasant experience at will.

Brian’s most terrifying ordeal is at the organic farm for human cattle. His favourite country is Hemecia, where all the natives have an inexplicable urge to please him and want nothing in return. Brian, being Brian, exploits this inexplicable altruism.

Do you think Brian’s adventures are real?

Brian’s adventures are true, but then…