I had no idea of who could play it, no notion really. Then richard came to see us but i don't think it was decided at that meeting. The trouble is, as soon as you've chosen somebody it obscures anybody else you might have thought of. It's like going to a place that you've never been to before - you've got a picture of it and then you go there and that picture is totally wiped out by the reality.
My experience came before most of you were born. My school was a state school in leeds and the headmaster usually sent students to leeds university but he didn't normally send them to oxford or cambridge. But the headmaster happened to have been to cambridge and decided to try and push some of us towards oxford and cambridge. So, half a dozen of us tried - not all of us in history - and we all eventually got in. So, to that extent, it [the history boys] comes out of my own experience.
There's very little in the substance of [the lady in the van] which is not fact though some adjustments have had to be made. Over the years miss shepherd was visited by a succession of social workers so the character in the play is a composite figure. . . . A composite too are the neighbours, pauline and rufus, though i have made rufus a publisher in remembrance of my neighbour, the late colin haycraft, the proprietor of duckworth's.