Terry Pratchett - Back in Black


Terry Pratchett - Back in Black

Poignant and humorous film telling the story of the hugely popular author Terry Pratchett in his own words.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Marking. Camera one.

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Can we go back to the beginning?

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I'm aware of that.

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I can see my father every time I see myself in the...

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-What, every time you look in the mirror...?

-In the mirror, yeah, yeah.

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The anecdote I'm specifically thinking of is the...

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I know what the anecdote is. I'm trying to remember...

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He was in Karachi...

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-in the war. In the air force.

-Ah.

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-Burma.

-Ah, OK.

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And he turned and...

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He was a...

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Air like... Air lang...

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-Erm...

-'So sad. A man of words, a man who created so many words,'

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and I think we probably left this six months too late.

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Today at five, the author Sir Terry Pratchett has died, aged 66.

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Lasted for over 40 years,

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Terry Pratchett wrote 70 books which sold more than 75 million copies.

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He is one of the greatest satirists since Swift.

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He skewers his intended victims.

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Terry is actually talking about the human condition in a way

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that is going to break your heart.

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He was brilliant at those lightbulb moments to get across complex,

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highbrow concepts in a book about witches and tea.

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He should be here, he's not here, that's the biggest thing.

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He's here in spirit, but we want him here in body.

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We really do.

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We miss him.

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So, if it's all right with you, I am going to tell you my final tale.

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The story of my own life in my own words. Well, mostly.

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I chose a wicker casket to be laid to rest in,

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because I always thought coffins were a bit morbid really,

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not to mention claustrophobic.

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Plus the fact it looks a little bit like a Weetabix.

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They say your life flashes in front of your eyes before you die.

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This is true.

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It is called living.

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But nobody's really dead until all the ripples they have created on

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Earth have completely died away,

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so as long as my words and my stories are still sploshing

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around the planet, there's life in the old dog yet.

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Walking back into Terry's office,

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all the books were created for the first time after Terry had died.

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So I feel him all the time.

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Terry always said that you see cats out the corner of your eye.

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If you've lost a cat, you will always see it,

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it will always come back and it was

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just almost slightly, just slightly beyond your peripheral vision,

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but Terry's closer than that. He's here all the time.

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I was Terry's PA. It's still a multi-million pound business

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and it's all run from this desk.

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At least for the last couple of years of his life, we talked

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about Terry's memorial and we talked about what he would want from it.

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He would want the rock concert of memorials.

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That's what we've got to give him.

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My life on the whole has been that of a ping-pong ball

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in a hurricane - I just went where the winds blew me.

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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,

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and thank you from myself,

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from Terry's family, for being here tonight.

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I asked Terry, "What is the one thing you want from your memorial service?"

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-And he said, "To be there."

-LAUGHTER

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"Spread joy whenever possible.

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"Make puns and bugger the embuggerances. Read books,

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"read my books, you might like them."

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There is a fury to Terry Pratchett's writing.

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It's the fury that was the engine that powered Discworld

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and you'll discover it here.

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It's the anger at the headmaster who would decide that six-year-old

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Terry Pratchett would never be smart enough for the 11+.

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Anger at pompous critics and at those who think that serious is the

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opposite of funny. And I think,

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"What would Terry do with this anger?"

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Then I pick up my pen and I start to write.

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APPLAUSE

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Well, this is all very nice, I'm sure,

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but I was never the sentimental type,

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so that's quite enough of that nonsense.

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Let me tell you how it all began.

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HE LAUGHS

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I left school in 1965 at the age of 17 with barely

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a qualification to my name, but I had one burning ambition in my mind.

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I knew I wanted to be a writer.

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But with a father who was a mechanic and a mother who was

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a secretary, I realised that the odds of me actually making

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a living from writing were about as likely as a hen growing teeth,

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or the Earth being flat. HE GASPS

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Whilst I was still at school, I wrote a letter to the editor

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of my local newspaper, the Bucks Free Press, asking for a job.

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"I like the cut of your jib, young man," he said,

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which I believe is the last recorded use of that phrase

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in Britain.

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This was a real newspaper with 96 pages of classified ads.

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It was here I learnt all the rudiments, tricks, dirty jokes,

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suspicious folklore and cliche of local newspaper journalism.

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It was an education.

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When you're a journalist, you're taught very quickly that

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there's no such thing as writer's block,

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because there will be some unsympathetic bloke screaming

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in your earhole to get the bloody thing written.

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It was while working at the Bucks Free Press that I came up

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with the idea for my first-ever novel.

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Ooh! The Carpet People.

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I was sent to do an interview with a small press publisher.

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While I was there, I thought I'd be a little cheeky sod. "Here!

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"I've got a manuscript in my satchel, mate.

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"Would you like to have a peek?"

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And there was no way it could not be published.

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I mean, this had been written by a 17-year-old

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and it was brilliant and that is the result.

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Terry painted this picture and even hand-coloured pictures,

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which we pasted up.

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There's the hymetors, the honeybees of the carpet.

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Imagine beings who are so small, who look on the threads of carpet

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as being towering trees of 60-100 feet high.

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This one's inscribed, by the way, "To Colin Smythe,

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"and may this book make him lots of money."

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"There was beauty but none to see.

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"There was life but none to live it. Yet in the dust,

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"the mother carpet wovers, the first of us, the carpet people.

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"Then the web was woven complete. Though Fray, who hates life in

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"the carpet, may tread on us, those shadows grow over us,

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"we are the lords of the carpet and that is a mighty thing.

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"We are the fruit of the loom."

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I mean, if you can do that at 17

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and if there was any, you know, development,

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my God, what was he going to be like later?

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How great we, of course, had no idea.

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There is an ancient myth that the world is travelling through

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space on the back of a giant turtle.

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There is a version of that myth

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that claims there are four giant elephants set on the top of it.

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I remember reading about it in a book on astronomy.

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I filched it and ran away before the alarms went off.

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This world began as an antidote to fantasy.

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There are so many cliches in the fairy-tale view of fantasy -

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with the wizards and the witches and so forth - that it may be fun just

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to treat them as if they were real life.

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This world even has a condom factory in it and why not?

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You couldn't do that in Middle-earth.

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You couldn't even think about doing it in Narnia.

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Being a fantasy writer is a bit like that kid you envied at school.

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We all had a box of paints,

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but he had a posh box that included tubes of gold and silver.

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"In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that

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"was never meant to fly, the curling star mists waiver and part.

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"See, Great A'Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the

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"interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs.

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"His huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters."

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Classic Terry. There it is. The Colour Of Magic

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and immediately he draws you in.

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I want to know more about that.

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As it was read, it had had more reactions,

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positive and negatives, than any other book they'd done for years.

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On some saying, "What trash!"

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And others saying, "This is brilliant, let's have some more."

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In those days, I wasn't earning much money from writing.

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I was just happy to get a free meal, to be honest.

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The only journalist who was interested in me was

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a snotty 24-year-old from an obscure sci-fi magazine,

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but he ended up becoming one of the biggest-selling fantasy authors.

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Behind me, of course.

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Terry and I met in a Chinese restaurant.

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I was the first interview that Terry Pratchett had ever done.

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The interview is in this, in this magazine, which I haven't seen

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for about 30 years and it ran one page.

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GLASS SHATTERS

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He is looking pretty rock and roll, he's got an argyle sweater,

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he's got an anorak and he has a little leather sort of beret cap.

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Part of the problem with Terry's fiction is a lot of

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people wind up starting there.

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So this is The Colour Of Magic. It's a romp

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and it's a terrible place to start.

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It's like trying to understand PG Wodehouse by beginning with

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his school stories, and it's a collection of jokes and in The Colour Of Magic,

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they aren't even very good jokes.

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The Terry Pratchett of fine and beautiful plots built like

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Swiss watches was a long way from turning up.

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But he's building something.

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If you're a writer, journalist or whatever,

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everybody you've ever known - loved ones, hated ones -

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they've all gone into the dark mill of your mind,

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so that when the time came for me to write my books, they were all there.

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Years ago, I watched a rather large lady struggling down

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cobblestones with a suitcase on wheels.

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The suitcase was bouncing all over the shop.

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It had a life of its own,

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so I bunged it in a book and the character of The Luggage was born.

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I have to tell you, at that time,

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characters were coming out of my brain left, right and centre

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and I was finding it extremely difficult to keep track of them all.

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Thankfully fate intervened.

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I met a mild-mannered civil servant who came up with a hi-tech solution.

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And this is it.

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The Discworld Companion. Still accessible after all these years.

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Genetics. Geoffrey. Gimmick. Ginger.

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Samuel or Vimes. Dislikes a lot of things -

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kings, the undead and assassins.

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A skinny unshaven collection of bad habits marinated in alcohol.

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HE CHUCKLES

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So what we've got here is the first complete card index of

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everything to do with all the books -

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every character, every place,

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every street name, every country, every river, every stream,

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every Ford is all in here on bits of paper.

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Terry found it highly amusing, because Terry was very

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electronically literate and I was still working in the 19th century.

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See how accessible these are?

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Unlike anything you'd have on computer.

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Granny Weatherwax.

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Famous throughout the mountains for special potions for

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illnesses that village women just hinted at with raised eyebrows

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and lowered voices.

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Granny Weatherwax is somebody who has total self-belief.

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She is intolerant of fools,

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she's not very tolerant of anyone really.

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Hard, driven, and very powerful

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and very, very, very good at understanding people.

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There's a lot of that in Terry, that kind of being driven and, yes,

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a certain anger about injustice and stupidity.

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There's always a kind of anger about him and Granny Weatherwax

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is somebody who's permanently angry.

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Unlike most fantasy worlds, Discworld is based strongly on reality.

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He wants to have a map of his city.

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And then this is the final version, the map of Ankh-Morpork.

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The last thing we did was to turn it around like this,

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so that it looks less like the opening credits of EastEnders.

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It's the Isle Of Gods, which has the Opera House,

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the theatre district, and then round here into Elm Street, which is where

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a lot of the undead tend to stay when they stay in the city.

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The thing that fascinated Terry was how cities work.

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When I first came across Discworld, when Terry and I first met, I was

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a civil servant working, effectively, for the Ministry of Agriculture.

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He knew I'd know what figures there were for the per capita

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consumption of beef. That sort of thing fascinated both him and me.

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He was firing on all cylinders, writing about three books a year.

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It was just crazy, because he would have two or three books on

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the go at once, in his head.

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This next gentleman has sold over 35 million books. Can he get a, "Boo!"?

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Terry's audience was growing with every book and people were

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talking about Terry.

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And they knew that something was happening,

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something exciting was happening.

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Terry Pratchett.

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Discworld series of books have an amazing following.

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Are you surprised at the way they've taken off?

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I've been in a state of shock for the last eight years, in fact, yeah.

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Do you get upset if people say, "Are you a bit like Tolkien, then?

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"Or that kind of writer?" Is that fair or not?

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-He's more dead than I am.

-Yeah.

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Terry was writing two novels a year,

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editing two novels a year and touring two novels a year.

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That didn't leave a lot of time.

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Terry's writing became the most important thing at the

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expense of everything.

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Haven't been this way for a very long time.

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I do remember Dad

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picking me up from the little school I went to

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and it had snowed very heavily and my dad turned up to pick me

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up with a sledge.

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Dad embraced the narrative of the moment

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rather more than the practicality.

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Mum and Dad had a happy marriage,

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I think, living in a little cottage with goats and chickens and just

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trying to get by in a sort of Tom and Barbara in The Good Life experience.

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-Hello.

-Hello.

-Hi. Good to meet you. I'm Rhianna Pratchett.

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And this room hasn't changed very much.

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So this is where I'd sit in front of the fire and Dad

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would read me The Hobbit.

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That's one of my... That's one of my core Dad memories, I think.

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There was definitely a bit of big brotherness to Dad as much

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as the kind of, you know, he was part dad, part big brother, I think.

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The first book I remember was probably Equal Rites.

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Equal Rites has a character called Esk

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who he, he based on me.

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"Nothing much happened for seven years except one of the apple

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"trees in the smithy orchard grew perceptibly taller than the others

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"and was frequently climbed by a small girl with brown hair and

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"a gap in her front teeth.

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"The sort of features that promise to become, if not beautiful,

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"then at least attractively interesting."

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Thank you, Dad.

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Well, I think the success took him away from home more

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and I was always very...

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independent, I think,

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and I sort of kept myself away from the fame aspect of Dad.

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Fame can kind of twist things and sort of twist relationships

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and time and commitment and family life and work and things like that

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and so, you know, the dad that I grieve for most was the dad I knew here.

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We didn't have much back then,

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but I wasn't used to much.

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My own childhood was... Well, it was a humble one.

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I was brought up on this lane,

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in a little village called Forty Green in Bucks.

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I lived in a cottage which had a roof,

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one cold water tap and a mum and dad.

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In post-war Britain, that was a little bit like winning the lottery.

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I was an only, not a lonely child.

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In fact, I had no hang-ups whatsoever,

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so I had to invent them all myself.

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I was a pretty average young lad really.

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I liked climbing trees and playing outdoors,

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but then something happened that changed my small world for ever.

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A family friend gave me a copy of Wind In The Willows.

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Nobody had bothered telling me that books could be that much fun.

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There was this mole who had a friend who was a rat who had

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a friend who was a badger and they all had a friend who was

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a toad, but not just any toad.

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This toad could drive a car and represent himself in court.

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It was all so...utterly weird and entirely unexplained.

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So I got myself a Saturday job at the local library.

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It was a bit like giving a monkey the keys to

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a banana factory and they paid me handsomely in library tickets.

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I started with the fantasy and once I'd read all the fantasy,

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I moved on to mythology, because it was still blokes with helmets,

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bashing each other on the head with swords.

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When I'd read all the mythology, I moved on to ancient history,

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more blokes with helmets bashing each other over the head with

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swords and on it went.

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I read for pleasure every single copy of Punch magazine from

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the 1840s to the mid-1960s.

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I was reading Mayhew's London Labour and London Poor at the same

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time as I was reading Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books

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and contained within all this literature

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were all the friends I would ever need.

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Thinking about it now,

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I was probably at my happiest in that library.

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All I ever tried to do from that time on was to pass on all the

0:21:400:21:43

fun I'd had with words.

0:21:430:21:45

-Right. It's Terry.

-Most words ending in fu

0:21:450:21:49

refer to some kind of martial art.

0:21:490:21:52

As in deja fu, which is the feeling that you have been kicked

0:21:520:21:56

in the head before. LAUGHTER

0:21:560:22:00

'I've had plenty of practice making up funny stuff.

0:22:000:22:03

'I've been doing it since I was 14 years old.'

0:22:030:22:06

The first short story that I ever wrote was called The Hades Business

0:22:110:22:15

and my teacher gave me 20 out of 20 and put it in the school magazine.

0:22:150:22:20

All the other kids loved it.

0:22:200:22:22

It made them laugh and I've been popular ever since.

0:22:220:22:25

These days, of course, people from all over the planet go to

0:22:330:22:37

Discworld conventions just to talk about my books.

0:22:370:22:42

I used to be guest of honour, but I'm currently indisposed,

0:22:420:22:47

so I send Rob instead.

0:22:470:22:49

Morning.

0:22:500:22:52

Welcome to the Discworld Convention,

0:22:520:22:55

a gathering of about 800 fans.

0:22:550:22:57

It's the first UK convention where everybody knew that Terry

0:22:570:23:00

wouldn't be here.

0:23:000:23:02

I feel as if I'm shouldering the burden of having to carry him

0:23:020:23:06

and his memory and then realised that when you're here with all of

0:23:060:23:09

the fans and everyone's enjoying themselves,

0:23:090:23:11

that isn't a burden, everybody wants to throw their love at you.

0:23:110:23:14

This is all very strange, because I'm just me.

0:23:160:23:19

Have you just seen what I've got to sign?

0:23:200:23:22

Somewhere Terry is looking down and he either highly approves of this

0:23:220:23:26

or he's shaking his head in dismay.

0:23:260:23:29

-Done.

-Thank you so much.

-Thank you.

0:23:290:23:32

I'd attended the first Discworld convention just as a fan,

0:23:340:23:37

just as an attendee.

0:23:370:23:38

Terry asked me what my favourite electronic component was and

0:23:380:23:41

I think he was actually trying to catch me out and I said,

0:23:410:23:44

"Well, Terry, it's the NE555 timer,"

0:23:440:23:46

and he stood up and punched the air and he looked me up and down

0:23:460:23:49

and said, "Good God, it's Captain Capacitor,"

0:23:490:23:51

so Terry noticed in me a kindred spirit.

0:23:510:23:53

There we were, geeks and nerds united.

0:23:530:23:56

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

-Welcome to the 2016 Masquerade.

0:23:560:24:01

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:24:010:24:03

You may think that my fans are a little odd,

0:24:050:24:09

but one of them could be the next Terry Pratchett.

0:24:090:24:13

Well, maybe not him.

0:24:130:24:15

I started going to science fiction conventions as

0:24:170:24:20

a spotty teenager back in 1964.

0:24:200:24:25

I was in the gents having a piss when I heard somebody in the

0:24:250:24:29

cubicle having a rather loud poo.

0:24:290:24:32

When the door finally opened, I was absolutely staggered to

0:24:350:24:38

discover it was none other than Arthur C Clarke.

0:24:380:24:41

And I thought, "Bloody hell!

0:24:420:24:46

"You're a human being, I'm a human being. Your poo stinks,

0:24:460:24:50

"my poo stinks. You're a writer and I want to be a writer."

0:24:500:24:55

I discovered the commonality of humankind.

0:24:550:24:58

I am a little old lady who lives with her daughter,

0:25:080:25:14

but when I come to Discworld, I am an assassin.

0:25:140:25:19

This is a Christmas card that was sent to me by Terry, so it was

0:25:200:25:24

a really lovely gift to get through the post and totally unexpected.

0:25:240:25:27

Pratchett fans have that shared core,

0:25:290:25:33

kernel of Pratchettness that he's left with us.

0:25:330:25:38

"Be more Terry," I think is what they say.

0:25:380:25:41

If you meet someone who also likes Pratchett,

0:25:410:25:43

you almost have this knowing smile of, "Ah, great!

0:25:430:25:47

"You have a wider worldview and a sense of humour that I

0:25:470:25:52

"instantly hope that we'll be better friends because of."

0:25:520:25:55

It had already been dedicated, so I turned up to

0:25:550:25:58

a signing in Bradford with this book and

0:25:580:26:01

a bottle of Tippex and Terry whited out the original dedication

0:26:010:26:06

and wrote underneath, "Officially unsigned by Terry Pratchett, 1997."

0:26:060:26:13

Terry was a great feminist writer, but that was not his mission.

0:26:130:26:18

It's character before anything and I loved that!

0:26:180:26:23

Yes! He gets this.

0:26:230:26:25

One of my favourite characters from my books is the Librarian.

0:26:300:26:35

He is an orangutan, because when I was a small boy,

0:26:350:26:39

I couldn't reach the books on the top shelf,

0:26:390:26:43

so I figured that an orangutan could get up as high as he liked

0:26:430:26:47

and discover all sorts of treats.

0:26:470:26:50

One of my fans turned up at a book signing one day with an

0:26:540:26:58

armload of the most incredible drawings of my characters.

0:26:580:27:02

And I thought, "Well,

0:27:020:27:04

"I might give this young whippersnapper his big break."

0:27:040:27:08

I like the Feegles, a cross between Braveheart and Trainspotting.

0:27:080:27:13

The sort of character that you don't want to meet down a dark alley,

0:27:130:27:17

even if they're six inches tall.

0:27:170:27:19

I think Terry was doing something like The Borrowers, but with

0:27:200:27:26

an edge, an edge to it that made you think about the realities

0:27:260:27:30

of being six inches tall.

0:27:300:27:32

It makes you think about things and see things differently.

0:27:320:27:37

There's so many characters.

0:27:370:27:39

My interpretation of Terry's creation was try and make it real.

0:27:410:27:46

It's a fantasy scenario, but it's peopled by people that you know.

0:27:460:27:53

So this is Death.

0:27:580:28:01

He's not the Grim Reaper.

0:28:010:28:03

He's... He just does a job and he's trying to understand humanity.

0:28:030:28:10

You're challenging yourself to try and make...

0:28:100:28:14

a skull look friendly.

0:28:140:28:16

The most popular character in my books is Death,

0:28:200:28:23

your genuine, bona fide, seven-foot tall hooded skeletal figure

0:28:230:28:28

with a horse called Binky.

0:28:280:28:30

I simply ask the question, if Death were a real person,

0:28:300:28:34

what will he do on his afternoons off?

0:28:340:28:37

"He looked down and saw the landscape spread out below him,

0:28:410:28:44

"the night etched with moonlight silver.

0:28:440:28:47

"Vast streamers of light shimmered and glittered across the night.

0:28:480:28:52

"Great golden walls surrounded the world.

0:28:520:28:55

" 'It's beautiful,' said Mort, softly. 'What is it?'

0:28:570:29:01

" 'The sun is under the disc,' said Death.

0:29:010:29:04

" 'Is it like this every night?'

0:29:040:29:07

" 'Every night,' said Death. 'Nature's like that.'

0:29:070:29:10

" 'Doesn't anyone know?' 'Me! You! The gods!

0:29:100:29:14

" 'Good, is it?' 'Gosh.'

0:29:140:29:17

"Death leaned over the saddle and looked down at the kingdoms

0:29:170:29:20

"of the world.

0:29:200:29:22

" 'I don't know about you,' he said, 'but I could murder a curry.' "

0:29:220:29:26

I've received letters about him from convents, ecclesiastical palaces,

0:29:290:29:35

funeral parlours and not least hospices.

0:29:350:29:38

He is, in short, a kindly death.

0:29:400:29:43

Utterly fascinated by human beings and their capacity to find a bother

0:29:450:29:52

in the short time that they spend on Earth.

0:29:520:29:55

I brought Death to life, so with the help of my old friend

0:29:590:30:05

Bernard, I thought why not bring my fantasy city Ankh-Morpork into the real world too?

0:30:050:30:11

Conveniently located just off the A303.

0:30:110:30:15

Welcome to Wincanton.

0:30:150:30:17

The only town that is twinned with a totally unreal place.

0:30:170:30:23

Twinned with Ankh-Morpork.

0:30:230:30:25

Wincanton is a town of blow-ins, good breakfasts,

0:30:260:30:29

funny little hotels and lots of pubs and Ankh-Morpork,

0:30:290:30:33

of course, is the same, but writ much larger.

0:30:330:30:36

We spoke to the Foreign Office,

0:30:360:30:38

the Home Office and all the other offices of the Government in

0:30:380:30:40

London and then, of course, we spoke to the local council.

0:30:400:30:43

Of course, once the whole town had been twinned with Ankh-Morpork,

0:30:520:30:56

things started to go in their own way.

0:30:560:30:59

Wimpey were putting up houses and they thought,

0:30:590:31:01

wouldn't it be a jolly good idea if they took some of the names from the

0:31:010:31:04

Discworld book, from Ankh-Morpork, and used them as street signs?

0:31:040:31:08

And now we have Treacle Mine Road and Peach Pie Street and

0:31:080:31:11

Hen and Chicken Field and Terry was chuffed as hell.

0:31:110:31:15

Well, what you see here in this strange little shop

0:31:260:31:29

we create what Terry has written and we turn them into pieces

0:31:290:31:32

that people can take away with them.

0:31:320:31:33

It's the soft edge of a dream.

0:31:360:31:38

This is the description of Sergeant Jack Jackrum.

0:31:400:31:45

Terry did tell me the character was based in some part on me.

0:31:460:31:52

"The sergeant turned to Polly.

0:31:520:31:54

"The word fat could not honestly be applied to him,

0:31:540:31:58

"not when the word gross was lumbering up forward to catch

0:31:580:32:02

"your attention. He was one of those people who didn't have a waist.

0:32:020:32:06

"He had an equator. He had gravity.

0:32:060:32:10

"And if he fell over in any direction, he would rock."

0:32:100:32:13

HE CHUCKLES

0:32:130:32:16

Terry understood the human condition.

0:32:160:32:19

He was a man that had been bullied at school,

0:32:190:32:23

so he grew up understanding what it was to be the underdog.

0:32:230:32:30

Good old Bernard. He knows me better than almost anyone.

0:32:300:32:34

I wouldn't say I was an underdog, but as a child,

0:32:340:32:39

I did always feel different.

0:32:390:32:41

On the count of a bicycle accident

0:32:420:32:44

I had when I was, oh, five years old,

0:32:440:32:47

I have a mouthful of speech impediments which has left me

0:32:470:32:51

with a voice that sounds like David Bellamy with his hand

0:32:510:32:55

caught in an electric fire.

0:32:550:32:57

HE LAUGHS

0:33:010:33:03

BICYCLE RATTLES

0:33:060:33:08

Ooh.

0:33:080:33:10

I'm having a flashback.

0:33:100:33:12

I was a bit of a twit at school.

0:33:120:33:14

Easily distracted.

0:33:140:33:16

And I st-stuttered.

0:33:160:33:18

Kids can be quite cruel.

0:33:180:33:21

Ow!

0:33:210:33:22

But it wasn't the kids that really got to me.

0:33:220:33:26

It was the crushing of my boyhood dreams by someone three feet taller.

0:33:260:33:33

Mr Tame, my headmaster, thought he could tell

0:33:330:33:36

how successful we were going to be in later life

0:33:360:33:38

by how well we could read or write at the age of six.

0:33:380:33:42

At six years old, I was far more interested in climbing the desks

0:33:420:33:46

than working at them.

0:33:460:33:47

Pratchett!

0:33:490:33:51

TERRY GASPS

0:33:510:33:52

Mr Tame had taken a rather vicious disliking to me.

0:33:550:34:00

But I subsequently discovered that he'd had a very bad war.

0:34:000:34:04

Seen lots of men blown to pieces.

0:34:040:34:06

"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear

0:34:080:34:12

"that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused

0:34:120:34:16

"not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad,

0:34:160:34:20

"but by people being fundamentally people."

0:34:200:34:24

'Young Terry Pratchett is told he'll never amount to anything.'

0:34:240:34:27

It really got under his skin, it really, it did affect him.

0:34:270:34:31

There were pictures of Terry smiling,

0:34:330:34:38

and there were pictures of Terry fierce.

0:34:380:34:42

The fierce Terry was the more accurate.

0:34:440:34:48

'The feeling of being somehow inferior was hard to shake off.

0:34:480:34:52

'The critics, bless 'em, could be utter bastards!'

0:34:520:34:57

Tom Paulin, Terry Pratchett has been one of the literary

0:34:570:34:59

sensations of recent years

0:34:590:35:01

read by millions of people. Are they stupid? Why do they read him?

0:35:010:35:04

For me, it was like lifting up a stone.

0:35:040:35:05

You see all these insects scurrying around and you think,

0:35:050:35:08

what on earth are they up to? And you put the stone back and go away.

0:35:080:35:11

That was my attitude.

0:35:110:35:12

'The London literary clique were quite unabashed.'

0:35:120:35:17

The snobbery that was going on.

0:35:170:35:20

I got to about page 151 and I actually wrote

0:35:200:35:22

across the centre of the page, you know, I just can't go on.

0:35:220:35:25

It's nerdy, real-ale stuff. Very Boy's Own stuff.

0:35:250:35:27

I'll be surprised if any woman would want to read this book.

0:35:270:35:29

He's selling thousands of copies, a complete amateur,

0:35:290:35:32

he doesn't even write in chapters.

0:35:320:35:33

THEY TALK OVER EACH OTHER

0:35:330:35:35

'Anger, for Terry, was an engine. Anger drove him.'

0:35:350:35:40

Always taking that anger and using it as fuel.

0:35:400:35:45

He will take something.

0:35:450:35:48

Take an idea, take something big and obvious, like newspapers

0:35:480:35:54

or steam trains

0:35:540:35:56

or movies, the movie industry,

0:35:560:35:58

use the Discworld to reflect it.

0:35:580:36:02

'I wrote a lot of words, and I made a lot of money.

0:36:060:36:09

'Anger can carry you quite a long way, it turns out,

0:36:090:36:14

'if you learn to channel it properly.'

0:36:140:36:16

The thing is, I would have written the books anyway

0:36:160:36:19

whether they paid me or not. Shush.

0:36:190:36:24

'It only took 20 years and three dozen novels

0:36:240:36:28

'before the critics finally caved in.'

0:36:280:36:31

'Terry Pratchett matches Charles Dickens book for book,

0:36:310:36:36

'as Britain's best-loved novelist.'

0:36:360:36:38

I mean, compare Pratchett with Tolkien, the use of language,

0:36:380:36:42

Tolkien, completely dead as far as I can see, linguistically.

0:36:420:36:45

Pratchett is very alive. I mean, very funny. Highly satirical.

0:36:450:36:50

As for Terry's best book,

0:36:510:36:54

Night Watch is the deepest, the darkest, and the most human.

0:36:540:37:00

'For a crime writer like me, there's a great appeal in Sam Vimes

0:37:160:37:18

'because he's the cop.'

0:37:180:37:20

In Night Watch, what's not to like about Sam Vimes?

0:37:200:37:24

You know, the boy from nowhere who goes on to run the world, basically.

0:37:240:37:29

And is essentially a good man trying to do the right thing.

0:37:290:37:33

"Everyone was guilty of something. Vimes knew that.

0:37:330:37:37

"Every copper knew it. That was how you maintained your authority.

0:37:370:37:41

"Everyone talking to a copper was secretly afraid you could see

0:37:410:37:44

"their guilty secret written on their forehead.

0:37:440:37:47

"You couldn't, of course.

0:37:470:37:48

"But neither were you supposed to drag someone off the street and

0:37:480:37:51

"smash their fingers with a hammer until they told you what it was."

0:37:510:37:54

You'd have to say he could have been a crime writer

0:37:540:37:57

if he hadn't fallen by the wayside into fantasy.

0:37:570:38:01

'Just like Sam Vimes, I started out with very little,

0:38:020:38:06

'and ended up being made a knight of the realm.

0:38:060:38:11

'Do you know they don't give you your own sword?

0:38:110:38:14

'So I had to make my own.

0:38:140:38:16

'Not bad for a boy who was told he'd never amount to anything, eh?'

0:38:160:38:21

'One day, he called me down and said,

0:38:390:38:40

' "Come on, what have you done with it, what have you done with it?"

0:38:400:38:43

'I said, "Done with what, Terry?"

0:38:430:38:45

'He said, "The S on my keyboard's gone, where has it gone?" '

0:38:450:38:49

I looked over his shoulder and there it was next to A where it always is.

0:38:490:38:52

And I said, "No, it's there," and I lent over and punched it.

0:38:520:38:56

And in that moment, we knew something strange had happened.

0:38:560:38:59

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

0:39:010:39:03

I'd like to show you something.

0:39:080:39:10

'Imagine you're in a very, very slow-motion car crash.

0:39:160:39:22

'Nothing seems to be happening at all.

0:39:220:39:25

'There might be the odd banging noise possibly,

0:39:250:39:29

'a little crunching sound here and there.

0:39:290:39:32

'A screw might pop out and spin its way across the dashboard

0:39:320:39:36

'as if you were in Apollo 13.

0:39:360:39:40

'But the radio's blasting rock and roll.

0:39:400:39:43

'The heaters are on and it doesn't seem all that bad.

0:39:430:39:47

'Except for the certain knowledge that, at some point,

0:39:490:39:52

'your head is going to go smashing through that windscreen.'

0:39:520:39:55

I've heard myself called Mr Alzheimer's.

0:40:010:40:05

AUDIENCE LAUGHS GENTLY

0:40:050:40:06

What they're going to be calling me in the morning, I have no idea.

0:40:060:40:10

LAUGHTER

0:40:100:40:11

'Dad being so public about it was quite surreal.

0:40:110:40:15

'In Discworld, there's a concept of second thought.'

0:40:150:40:18

So the idea of, you know,

0:40:180:40:19

there's always a part of you watching yourself,

0:40:190:40:21

and even a part of you watching the part of you watching yourself.

0:40:210:40:24

'There was still a part of his brain that was processing

0:40:240:40:27

'what was happening to him with the Alzheimer's.

0:40:270:40:30

'I could see him watching himself.'

0:40:300:40:32

On the first day of my journalistic career, I saw my first corpse.

0:40:360:40:41

Some unfortunate chap had fallen down a hole on a farm

0:40:410:40:46

and had drowned in pig shit.

0:40:460:40:49

Would I swap my own death for his?

0:40:490:40:52

All I'll say is that, compared to that horrific demise,

0:40:520:40:56

Alzheimer's is a walk in the park.

0:40:560:40:59

HORN BEEPS

0:41:000:41:02

Except, with Alzheimer's, my park keeps changing.

0:41:030:41:07

The trees get up and walk over there.

0:41:070:41:09

The benches go missing.

0:41:090:41:11

And the paths seem to be unwinding

0:41:110:41:15

into particularly vindictive serpents.

0:41:150:41:18

Terry got really angry at his disease

0:41:190:41:21

because now he could see how it was affecting him,

0:41:210:41:24

how it was tripping him up.

0:41:240:41:26

And I knew we were up against it for time.

0:41:260:41:29

We had to get these words down

0:41:290:41:30

with the white heat, that white anger driving him

0:41:300:41:34

to write seven more novels, through the haze of Alzheimer's.

0:41:340:41:39

I remember buying this and thinking, I don't want to read it.

0:41:410:41:44

Because it was the last.

0:41:460:41:48

And I felt that very much.

0:41:480:41:50

I didn't want to read this book because that would be it.

0:41:500:41:55

But one of the things I think is done very well in Terry's books

0:41:570:42:01

is that when people come to the end of the line, he lets them die.

0:42:010:42:05

And Granny Weatherwax, in The Shepherd's Crown,

0:42:050:42:09

comes to the end of her days.

0:42:090:42:12

There's a sort of pragmatic honesty to it

0:42:120:42:14

that really, it really touched me when I first read this,

0:42:140:42:17

it definitely brought a tear to my eye.

0:42:170:42:19

I don't know if I could write with that much joy if I knew I was dying.

0:42:210:42:27

"It was a strange night.

0:42:290:42:31

"The owls hooted almost nonstop and the wind outside, for some reason,

0:42:310:42:36

"made the wicks of the candles inside wobble with a vengeance,

0:42:360:42:39

"and then blow out."

0:42:390:42:41

"Then the darkness spoke.

0:42:440:42:46

" 'Esmerelda Weatherwax, we have met so many times before, haven't we?'

0:42:460:42:51

" 'Too many to count, Mr Reaper.

0:42:510:42:53

" 'Well, you've finally got me, you old bugger.

0:42:530:42:56

" 'I've had my season, no doubt about it,

0:42:560:42:58

" 'and I was never one for pushing myself forward or complaining.'

0:42:580:43:03

"There was no light.

0:43:040:43:06

"No point of reference except for the two tiny blue pinpricks

0:43:060:43:09

"sparkling in the eye sockets of Death himself.

0:43:090:43:13

" 'Well, the journey was worth taking,

0:43:130:43:15

" 'and I saw many wonderful things on the way,

0:43:150:43:18

" 'including you, my reliable friend. Shall we go now?'

0:43:180:43:22

" 'Madame...

0:43:220:43:24

" 'We've already gone.' "

0:43:260:43:27

It was actually the 8th of December.

0:43:320:43:34

We'd had a good day working on the biography.

0:43:340:43:36

And he said, "Rob, Terry Pratchett's dead."

0:43:360:43:39

Completely out of the blue.

0:43:420:43:44

"Terry. Look at the words we've written today,

0:43:440:43:46

"it's been fantastic."

0:43:460:43:47

And he said, "No. No. Terry Pratchett's dead."

0:43:470:43:52

He knew he was going to die.

0:43:570:44:00

Yeah, he was furious. It was unfair.

0:44:000:44:03

And if there was anything that really pissed off Terry Pratchett,

0:44:030:44:06

it was things being unfair.

0:44:060:44:08

The last time we were together, I went down to see him,

0:44:080:44:12

and it was towards the end.

0:44:120:44:14

And I thought, I want to talk to my friend.

0:44:140:44:18

And we said everything we had to say.

0:44:290:44:32

And he was there.

0:44:340:44:36

And then Rob turned up with scampi, and we sat and ate scampi.

0:44:400:44:45

I miss him so much.

0:44:450:44:47

'It doesn't feel like a world without Dad.

0:45:010:45:03

'He's still here, I think.'

0:45:030:45:05

When you lose someone close, you're sort of, they're always part of you,

0:45:050:45:09

and you're always taking...a piece of them with you, I think.

0:45:090:45:14

I mean, I'm always seeing things and aware,

0:45:190:45:23

"Oh, Dad would have loved that," or you can sort of hear him laughing.

0:45:230:45:28

'Life will never be the same again.'

0:45:330:45:35

You have to learn to live in a post-Terry world.

0:45:350:45:39

Yeah, that was really quite hard.

0:45:390:45:41

Please welcome Terry Pratchett!

0:45:430:45:45

CHEERING AND WHISTLING

0:45:450:45:46

'Terry was a human with all the good attributes turned up to 11.'

0:45:480:45:52

To Be More Terry is to be more caring, to be more human.

0:45:520:45:57

Death is a fact of life.

0:45:590:46:02

And it's how we react to that death that should take us forward.

0:46:020:46:06

And this, to me, is what Be More Terry means.

0:46:060:46:11

'Everybody here will always tell you what a great, amazing guy he was.'

0:46:110:46:15

But he was also a complete git!

0:46:150:46:18

But he did always make time for his fans.

0:46:180:46:21

I had a terrible time when I was, like, a young teenager.

0:46:210:46:25

And probably without Discworld books, I wouldn't be here.

0:46:250:46:27

I was very suicidal at that age.

0:46:270:46:30

And I don't think that's over-saying it, really.

0:46:300:46:33

And that's about the long and short of it, really.

0:46:350:46:37

BURST OF CHORAL MUSIC

0:46:430:46:45

I always dreamt that, when I die, I'll be sat in the deckchair

0:46:510:46:54

with a glass of brandy, listening to Thomas Tallis on the iPod.

0:46:540:46:59

But I had Alzheimer's. So I forgot all about that.

0:47:000:47:03

When I was a boy, all I ever wanted was my own observatory.

0:47:050:47:10

I knew even then that all the mysteries of life

0:47:100:47:13

lay hidden in the stars.

0:47:130:47:15

Having said that, stars aren't that important.

0:47:220:47:26

Whereas street lamps, they're very important. Why?

0:47:260:47:31

Because they're so rare.

0:47:310:47:32

As far as we know, there's only a few million of them in the universe.

0:47:320:47:36

And they were built by monkeys

0:47:360:47:39

who also came up with philosophy, telescopes,

0:47:390:47:43

E=mc-squared.

0:47:430:47:45

And I have to say I'm very proud to have been one of them.

0:47:450:47:52

Well, I'm off now.

0:47:550:47:57

You're in charge.

0:47:570:47:59

Oh, and one more thing.

0:47:590:48:01

Don't bugger it up.

0:48:020:48:04

# Some things in life are bad They can really make you mad

0:48:050:48:11

# Other things just make you swear and curse

0:48:110:48:14

# When you're chewing on life's gristle

0:48:140:48:17

# Don't grumble, give a whistle

0:48:170:48:20

# And this'll help things turn out for the best

0:48:200:48:23

# Ay...

0:48:230:48:25

-ALL:

-# Always look on the bright side of death... #

0:48:250:48:30

WHISTLING

0:48:300:48:33

# Just before you draw your terminal breath... #

0:48:330:48:39

WHISTLING

0:48:390:48:41

# Life's a piece of shit When you look at it

0:48:410:48:46

# Life's a laugh And death's a joke, it's true

0:48:460:48:48

# You'll see it's all a show Keep 'em laughing as you go

0:48:480:48:53

# Just remember that the last laugh is on you

0:48:530:48:58

# Always look on the bright side of life

0:48:580:49:04

# Always look on the bright side of life. #

0:49:080:49:13

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:49:130:49:15

God bless you, Terry.

0:49:180:49:20

When the writer Sir Terry Pratchett died in 2015, he was working on one last story - his own. But Terry's Alzheimer's meant he never got to finish it.

This poignant and humorous film starring Paul Kaye as Terry finally tells the story of this hugely popular author, creator of Discworld, whose books have sold over 85 million copies worldwide. Back in Black reveals Terry's road to success was not always easy, from his troubled schooldays to being dismissed by literary critics, to his battle with Alzheimer's. But knighted by the Queen, adored by millions of fans and with a legacy of 41 much-loved novels - Terry Pratchett is still having the last laugh.