BOLD AND ADVENTUROUS
Roald Dahl’s daughter talks after BFG premiere
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