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Dylan Thomas: beer and loafing in Fitzrovia

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Think of Dylan Thomas and you think of Milk Wood and the endless green of Carmarthenshire. But was he as much a London writer as a Welsh one? Fellow Fitzrovian Griff Rhys Jones raises a glass to the poets bohemian drinking days

A couple of years ago, I was sitting with Hannah Ellis in my office, which also happens to be my house. This is in a corner of northern Fitzrovia, just south of the Euston Road and a little west of the Tottenham Court Road. The customary, if slightly incredible, quiet had settled on the largely empty square outside the window. We were talking about Hannahs grandfather: Dylan Thomas. The centenary of his birth was then still two years away. I had undertaken to produce a drama for BBC2 to coincide with this, about his death at the shockingly early age of 39.

We had already had the outlines of a script from Andrew Davies. Now we needed Hannahs assent. This was sensitive material. Dylan died in the throes of a last deadly wrestle with the distractions of New York. The city, any city, always seemed to be a dangerous embrace: an escape, a whirlwind, a place for excess. Would Hannah allow us to portray the story of the 18 straight whiskeys he allegedly sank before his collapse; the struggles with her grandmother, Caitlin; the parties and the dirty limericks and the womanising? She did.

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