Those watching the heart-pounding new drama want to know if it will May holidays whether the story is true or not.
Youth, friendship, identity and loss – new series May holidays on the BBC (opens in a new tab) makes for powerful viewing. Scottish drama has been brought to life with stunning performances from some of the country’s finest acting talent – including Duty service (opens in a new tab)is Martin Compston, Thor actor Tony Curran and Ashley Jensen (from Accessories and Agatha Raisin glory).
Some members of the viewing audience will already be familiar with the story, which began life before the script was created. We explore the source material that inspired it May holidays and whether the plot is based on a true story or not.
Is Mayflies a true story?
That, May holidays is based on the novel of the same name by Andrew O’Hagen who has confirmed that Mayflies is autobiographical. In fact, the character of Tully is based on an old friend of O’Hagan’s named Keith Martin.
As The Guardian’s (opens in a new tab) Tim Adams explains in an interview with the author: “O’Hagan prefers to emphasize that this one—much more so than his previous five novels—is almost entirely true. The death of his oldest friend gave him no choice, he says, but to set aside the fiction he was writing several years – a great Dickensian-sounding novel set in present-day parts of Islington’s Caledonian Road – to make some emotional sense of those final months.”
Andrew O’Hagan (opens in a new tab) claims that in the book an event involving the character James is actually based on a true story about him – and indeed something that changed the course of his life forever. In 1985, the real-life O’Hagan went for a job interview as an office boy at a fence-building company in the town of Irvine, Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland. But upon arrival, the foreman dismisses him completely after seeing the “scrappy copy”. Nausea Jean-Paul Sartre just peeking out of his pocket. “Go to university or something,” she tells him.
In the book, the character James explains that leaving school and finding a local job was a given at the time. But it is this moment with the foreman and further encouragement from the motivating English teacher that gives James (and indeed O’Hagan) the impetus to apply and attend University.
Sure enough – a decade later – the same teacher surprises O’Hagan by reading his first novel Our fathers (opens in a new tab). According to The Guardshe told the author, “I always knew that about you, you were never going to settle for anything less than scandal or fame.”
Speaking about the TV adaptation, Andrew O’Hagan said: “The story is very personal to me and it’s amazing to see the characters come to life in Andrea Gibb’s wonderful adaptation. Director Peter Mackie Burns has a unique vision and I look forward to seeing what he does with the Ayrshire landscape and the emotional reality of this story.”
Meanwhile, Claire Mundell, executive producer, founder and creative director of Synchronicity Films, praised Andrew’s work. She said: “Andrew’s novel is nostalgic, poignant and poignant, following a lifelong friendship and exploring the optimism of youth and the realities of later life.
“It candidly portrays the bonds and boundaries of shared life and values. We are excited to be working with Andrew, Peter, Andrea and the BBC on an authentic screenplay adaptation of this acclaimed Scottish novel.”
Andrea Gibb, writer and executive producer added: “Adapting Andrew O’Hagan’s magnificent novel was one of the highlights of my career. Andrew tells his story of enduring male friendship with love, truth, tenderness and ardent humanity. There is not an iota of sentimentality.
She continues: “It’s very funny and deeply moving. The characters of Tully and Jimmy are instantly recognizable and completely unforgettable. Both are so alive and vibrant that they jump off the page. It was a joy and a privilege to live with them.”
Mayflies airs on BBC Scotland and BBC iPlayer from 27 December and on BBC One from 28 December onwards.
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