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Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - GRA­HAM KEILLOH

THE WIL­LIAMS FILM RE­LEASED ear­lier this year is not a sim­ple nar­ra­tive tale chart­ing the For­mula 1 team’s his­tory – it’s much more than that. Wil­liams is a pow­er­ful fam­ily story – one that Au­tosport (Au­gust 3 2017) said “ar­guably sur­passes Senna

– the yard­stick by which all F1-re­lated doc­u­men­taries are judged”.

The film is based on the book by Sir Frank Wil­liams’ late wife, Lady Vir­ginia ‘Ginny’ Wil­liams, A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Life, which was co-writ­ten by Pamela Cock­er­ill. The au­dio record­ings the pair made as they pro­duced the book pro­vided im­por­tant in­sights for the film.

“The tapes only ex­ist as I’m an ab­so­lute hoarder,” says Cock­er­ill. “It’s a mir­a­cle that I didn’t record over them.”

Re­mem­ber­ing the time she spent writ­ing A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Life with Ginny, who died in 2013, Cock­er­ill re­calls the ease with which it came to­gether, thanks to her co-au­thor’s en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm.

“We in­stantly had a rap­port – we had a lot in com­mon,” she says. “It was prob­a­bly the book I en­joyed work­ing on most, be­cause she was such an ar­tic­u­late per­son and had such in­sight, not just into F1 and her hus­band, but also into her own be­hav­iour.

Wil­liams is no ha­giog­ra­phy, not least to­wards Frank. But Cock­er­ill ex­plains that his be­hav­iour did not di­min­ish Ginny’s in­fat­u­a­tion with her hus­band.

“Claire [Wil­liams, deputy team prin­ci­pal of the F1 squad] her­self said, ‘Well I wouldn’t have [ac­cepted Frank’s be­hav­iour]’, and that was my re­ac­tion,” says Cock­er­ill.

“But for Ginny it didn’t come as a sur­prise. It was a part of him that she ac­cepted and didn’t ever re­ally think she would change – she loved the man un­der­neath. That just car­ried on through thick and thin. She her­self strug­gled to ex­plain it.”

In Wil­liams, Frank re­veals that he has never read Ginny’s book, de­spite one of the mo­ti­va­tions for writ­ing it be­ing Ginny’s hope that her hus­band would

un­der­stand her ex­pe­ri­ences.

“He’d never asked her what it was like, [but] I don’t think she was sur­prised that he didn’t [read the book],” Cock­er­ill notes. “He’s very fo­cused, tries to in­su­late him­self from emo­tion, and it would be very hard to in­su­late your­self read­ing that book.

“He’s just in­ter­ested about F1 – he’s not in­ter­ested about any in­tro­spec­tion at all. But the in­ter­est­ing thing is, in the scene in the film where Claire reads the fi­nal bit of the book to

Frank, he did ac­tu­ally well up.”

Cock­er­ill sees sim­i­lar­i­ties with Ginny in Claire, who moved into her cur­rent role with the Wil­liams team ahead of the 2013 sea­son: “Claire is very much cast in her mother’s mould. She’s very strong, like­able, ap­proach­able – there’s no side to her at all – she’s down to earth. I was amazed to meet her be­cause I felt such a link.”

A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Life was pub­lished in 1991 and there was talk then of it be­com­ing a film, but Cock­er­ill says that Ginny re­sisted such a move.

“There were film com­pa­nies in­ter­ested,” she ex­plains. “It would have been made into a drama­ti­sa­tion. Ginny said no be­cause of the re­cep­tion to the book – some of the tabloids fo­cused on big, lurid head­lines.”

Cock­er­ill, who is de­lighted with the film, thinks Ginny would have shared that view. “Mor­gan Matthews [Wil­liams direc­tor] has done an ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic job,” she says. “It’s mag­nif­i­cent and I’m sure it’s go­ing to win awards – it’s very de­serv­ing.

“Ginny would be very pleased with the film, I think it was very true to her and her thoughts.”

Ginny Wil­liams col­lects the con­struc­tor’s tro­phy at the 1986 Bri­tish Grand Prix on be­half of her hus­band

Pamela Cock­er­ill co-wrote the book A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Life

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