Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2011
The legacy of Charlie Chaplin extends far beyond the celluloid archive. There is a living strand of creative performance, which sees the grandchildren of Sir Charles exploring an adventurous new world of physical theatre, and adding a new dimension to those well-worn silent film images of The Little Tramp, battling against a hostile world.
The children of Victoria Chaplin – Aurelia and James Thierree – were born in a tent, and brought up in their parents’ world of travelling circus. In their adult life, both are theatrical pioneers, always pushing at the limits of stagecraft, to create original work that mixes acrobatics, illusion, music, mime and comedy.
In this backstage documentary, Tim Brooke-Taylor goes behind the scenes with James Thierree as he prepares to launch his new one-man show RAOUL, combining mime, acrobatics, music, comedy and illusion. How does the Chaplin legacy inform his ideas? How do the marketing people sell his shows, which always defy easy categorisation? How will audiences respond, in London and Paris?
The Chaplin biographer, David Robinson, explores the theatrical connections of the Chaplin family: additional commentaries are provided by Thierree admirers Bill Nighy and Terry Gilliam, and by producer Rachel Clare. The voice of Charlie Chaplin himself also makes a contribution from the archives, with shrewd observations on genes and genius.
Produced by Tony Staveacre & Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd for BBC Radio 4
N.B. Some audio has been edited from the original broadcast version due to copyright restrictions