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Dylan Thomas

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Robert Padam
1100924.  Fri Nov 07, 2014 5:59 pm Reply with quote

Love QI and I've always assumed you carefully research the programme but what a crass mistake you made concerning Dylan Thomas's last words. You perpetuate a myth that even Andrew Davies 'Poet in New York' couldn't avoid for it's dramatic qualities. Dylan returned to his hotel room in the early morning of 4th Nov 1953 and according to his 'companion' Liz Reitell did say about having drunk 18 straight whiskeys (the equivalent of 36 single measures in this country). He hadn't actually drunk anything like that amount but even so after he said the words he walked over to Liz, put his head in her lap and said, 'I love you but I'm alone'.
The next morning he got up and even went for a couple of beers later in the White Horse Tavern. I presume he spoke during these hours. When he became very ill later that night his last words were either “What an undistinguished way to reach one’s thirty-ninth (sic) year.” - according to the poet Ruthven Todd (second hand) or according to Liz herself, 'After 39 years this is all I've done'.
Please issue an apology for Dylan's sake in this his centenary year. He deserves better - and I expect better from QI. Mind you I expected better from Andrew Davies...

 
Troux
1100970.  Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:46 am Reply with quote

Sometimes the show intentionally injects misinformation on esoteric subjects so as to inspire new members to join the forums and share knowledge. Welcome to the boards!


At least that's what I'd say if I worked for the QI publicity and marketing department.

 
Robert Padam
1100983.  Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:57 am Reply with quote

If what you say is true, Troux, I feel like I've been used. You might have guessed I am a Dylan Thomas 'Ardent' but even so, as I said, in this his centenary year, to perpetuate such a myth is not only shoddy research it is sad.
At the end of this month is the anniversary of dear Oscar's demise. I cannot imagine Mr Fry allowing such a cheap besmirching of that great man.

 
suze
1100990.  Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:17 am Reply with quote

In which case you'll be relieved to learn that the QI publicity and marketing department - insofar as such a thing exists - does not encourage the intentional injection of misinformation.

Some television networks may condone that sort of behaviour, but the BBC absolutely doesn't. One of the QI executives once said something to me along the lines that "QI is expected to warrant to the BBC that everything we say is to the best of our knowledge true".

So if the show said something that wasn't true, that was an error and nothing more sinister.

At which point, I'll leave the stage free for anyone who wants either to agree with Robert's assertion that the show got this one wrong, or to defend what was said. I imagine that A Poet in New York was at least one source which led to the claim being made. Are there sources in support of Robert's assertion that it's not true?

 
Troux
1101045.  Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:12 pm Reply with quote

Robert Padam wrote:
If what you say is true, Troux, I feel like I've been used. You might have guessed I am a Dylan Thomas 'Ardent' but even so, as I said, in this his centenary year, to perpetuate such a myth is not only shoddy research it is sad.
At the end of this month is the anniversary of dear Oscar's demise. I cannot imagine Mr Fry allowing such a cheap besmirching of that great man.


No, I was only kidding about making up excuses for being wrong, but it seems the show generally seems to put 'interesting' in priority over 'correct' (not that the latter is in any way unimportant), so lots of little things slip through the cracks. However, this is a site where most of us are used, contributing daily gems from our meanderings which may end up on the show.

 
CB27
1101068.  Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:03 am Reply with quote

It's not the first time that a "false" common fact has escaped His Fryness' lips, and I wonder if it's more down to his adlibbing than a scripted line. It sometimes happens when you concentrate so much on an obscure fact on a different subject that you forget to check everything else you say :)

 
djgordy
1101075.  Sun Nov 09, 2014 8:12 am Reply with quote

If the presenter of a tv show is lookimg directly at the camera, it is most likely that they are reading the autocue and the remark is scripted. If they are looking at another person (whether on a panel or a guest on a sofa) then they will usually be ad-libbing, though often directed by the producer through their ear piece.

 
Jenny
1101096.  Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:06 pm Reply with quote

Those of us who have been to recordings can confirm that Stephen does not use an autocue.

 
CB27
1101100.  Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:40 pm Reply with quote

I thought he famously used cue cards on his desk?

Shame he's on secret service at the moment or we could ask him.

 
ellylles
1101157.  Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:53 am Reply with quote

I have to agree with Robert. I too was amazed to hear this on QI, especially from the lips of Stephen himself!

There is no evidence that these were Dylan's last words - indeed there is no substantial evidence that the quantity of alcohol referred to in the remark was anywhere near the truth either!

A quick check of just two biographies (one by Caitlin Thomas and the other by Constantine Fitzgibbon - the nearest two I happen to have to hand) corroborate this, as I know (having read a fair few of them for work this year) do many other biographies.

Even so, the 'urban myth' about his last words prevails and I think Stephen deserves a klaxon for perpetuating it.

 
Jenny
1101185.  Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:16 am Reply with quote

CB27 wrote:
I thought he famously used cue cards on his desk?

Shame he's on secret service at the moment or we could ask him.


Yes he does have cue cards with answers and additional info on his desk, but he quite often throws in things ad lib.

 
PDR
1101196.  Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:05 pm Reply with quote

Yes, but the Dylan comment was Steviebabes' "closing funny comment", so presumably it was one of the scripted elements of the show.

PDR

 
Robert Padam
1101528.  Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:37 pm Reply with quote

I'm just disappointed in the programme - having always assumed their 'facts' are accurate.
I am not asserting anything. The error is not up for debate. The man only died sixty years ago and his grand-daughter, Hannah Ellis has worked hard this centenary year to dispel myths like this. There was even a BBC Arena programme on Thomas from 2003 - 'From Grave to Cradle', excellently written and presented by Nigel Williams, which dealt with this matter in the first ten minutes.
It is extremely easy to verify Dylan Thomas was up and about the following day after his boast about the number of whiskies - there are not only the statements of the people who were with him there are even photographs of him in the White Horse the following afternoon, posing (albeit ghostly) with a couple of longshoremen.
Having said that you can't take anything you read on trust. The poet John Berryman's biography states that Dylan issued his famous remark from his barstool and collapsed there and was rushed to hospital. Likewise, most of Thomas's biographies state Berryman was the only visitor present in the room when Dylan died when Berryman himself admitted in interviews that he was out in the corridor.
It's these sort of discrepancies I have expected QI to iron out but now I wonder how many 'urban myths' they just perpetuate for dramatic effect. To be honest, if what they tell you is not correct to the best of their knowledge then it's not much of a programme.

 
CharliesDragon
1101535.  Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:43 pm Reply with quote

The closing line is mostly meant to be funny and I wouldn't hold it up to the same scrutany as the rest of the show. That isn't to say they don't make mistakes, or explain things wrong, but most of what Stephen says is checked and triple-checked.

They probably used Dylan Thomas because he is a man connected with the myth, but it is said more like a joke. They could just as easily have used something from "The Big Book of Hilarious Jokes."

 
Robert Padam
1101807.  Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:03 pm Reply with quote

If they'd have used something from "The Big Book of Hilarious Jokes" then presumably that would actually have been funny.

 

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