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Ronan Point connection

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The late lamented John Wells, writer, actor and director, was a household name thanks to his prodigious output in so many branches of the media. What is less well-known is his involvement in the Ronan Point saga of 30 years ago, following a chance meeting with Sam Webb at the offices of Private Eye. Webb co-wrote many articles, with Paul Foot, on the ill- fated East End tower block which blew up unexpectedly, and later on the activities of the corrupt architect John Poulson. Cedric Price effected Webb's introduction to Joan Littlewood, who was writing a play on Ronan Point, which was to have been staged under the dome of St Paul's Cathedral until lawyers got wind of the fact and the project was scuppered. Enter Wells, who then wrote The Projector, under the pseudonym William Rufus Chetwood, a Joan Littlewood production with a musical score by Carl Davis and stage set by Webb, which opened to rave reviews in December 1970. Each night the script was adapted to feature evidence given to the Ronan Point inquiry, then under way. I recall the exchange between a qc and Mr Pike, the gas-fitter whose workmanship in Miss Hodge's flat (where the fatal blast occurred) was called into question. 'So you say,' said the qc, 'it was hot in her flat. Did you ever ask her if she wanted it off?' To which Mr Pike replied: 'No, m'lud, I never asks a woman if she wants it off or not.' They don't write 'em like that any more.

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