Roald Dahl’s daugh­ter talks af­ter BFG premiere

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Emily Rit­ter buck­snews@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @get_bucks

IT’S a big year for Roald Dahl fans. Not only is it the 100th an­niver­sary of the much-loved au­thor’s birth but a new film brings to life the BFG.

And as the home of the Roald Dahl Mu­seum and the place Dahl penned many of his books, that means Great Mis­senden will be in the spot­light.

The story of The Big Friendly Gi­ant, brought to life by Os­car-win­ning ac­tor Mark Ry­lance, 56, has at its heart the fa­therly love the ogre feels for the lonely child, So­phie, played by Ruby Barn­hill, 11, guard­ing her from the other, less friendly gi­ants.

That de­sire to pro­tect his brood – Lucy, Tessa, Ophe­lia, Theo and Olivia, his chil­dren by ac­tress Pa­tri­cia Neal – was an emo­tion felt keenly by Dahl. He thought he had failed to pro­tect Olivia, and days af­ter her death, said: “I wish we’d had a chance to fight for her.”

The BFG, pub­lished 20 years af­ter her death, was ded­i­cated to tragic Olivia.

Lucy was born in 1965, three years af­ter Olivia had died. She says that by the time she was old enough to un­der­stand, her fa­ther’s loss “was still in his heart but his open grief was com­pleted”.

She re­calls a fun-lov­ing dad who, be­sides writ­ing in his den at the bot­tom of their gar­den in Great Mis­senden, Bucks, ded­i­cated his life to fill­ing his chil­dren’s lives with ad­ven­ture.

Lucy tells how her fa­ther would bun­dle them in the car to chase hot air bal­loons, wake them in the night to search for foxes, and whip up “witch’s po­tions” from canned pears, milk and food colour­ing.

He fed their imag­i­na­tions. And now, keen to fol­low in his foot­steps Lucy, who has two grown-up daugh­ters, is a judge in Blue Peter’s Dream Big com­pe­ti­tion, en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to en­ter ideas for a new an­i­ma­tion in writ­ing or in draw­ings.

She says: “I think the trick to all re­ally great creative work is not to have any fear. Chil­dren don’t have ego­tis­ti­cal, com­pet­i­tive minds, it all comes from their hearts.”

It also helps if you have a par­ent who nur­tures your spirit of ad­ven­ture. When

Big screen: A scene from the new BFG movie, In­set above, Lucy Dahl with Kate Cap­shaw, Steven Spiel­berg, Ruby Barn­hill, Mark Ry­lance, Claire van Kam­pen, and Penelope Wil­ton at The BFG premiere dur­ing the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val

Fam­ily: Roald Dahl with Pa­tri­cia and their chil­dren

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