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Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: September 21, 2009, 12:06:40 PM »

The Independent on 21 Sept 2009 have an article about advertising for television football channels, and Berkoff get mentioned:

In the pomposity stakes, at least, the incumbent isn't going to have it all its own way, as the early-season exchanges have made clear. Sky may have Sean Bean, possessor of The Most Authentic Voice In England, but for their opening fixture ESPN had Steven Berkoff.
"This is who we are, this is what we are," he thundered, neglecting to explain exactly what the practical difference is between those two formulations; "It kicks you! Right! In the centre... Of your gut."

Not particularly profound, but the link is here
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: February 02, 2009, 08:25:24 PM »

Caroline Shearing interviews Berkoff about his best and worst holidays. From The Telegraph 27 Feb 2006

Which was your best holiday?

The most memorable was arriving at the small village of Adeje in Tenerife on Christmas Eve and staying up all night listening to the villagers playing guitars and singing. We stayed at a little inn and the place was charming and natural and the people were friendly. It was just a wonderful escape. This was 30 years ago, so there weren't many tourists.


What do you always take with you?

A notebook and pen. I'm always writing and keeping a journal is a good way of observing the world. It's also a record to read years later and brings it all back to life better than any photograph.


What's the biggest packing mistake you've made?

Packing a cassette deck that I didn't need but thought I should have because everyone else was taking them away. In the end I stamped on it and felt better. I didn't want to be a slave to a machine, or part of this whole consumerism idea of feeling that you just have to have something.

Which is the worst hotel you've stayed in?

I stayed at the once-great Caledonian in Edinburgh 10 years ago to find it was a Hilton tourist processing plant. The breakfasts were greasy and unappetising and there wasn't any fruit.

What do you avoid on holiday?

I avoid tourists as much as possible, especially those groups that follow a flag-waving leader like ducks.

Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: February 02, 2009, 08:10:22 PM »

From The Jewish Chronicle by Simon Round, 22 Jan 2009.

Berkoff talks about Waterfront:  “How could I resist? It’s a phenomenal piece. But I didn’t want to put Schulberg’s changes in. When he re-wrote the script as a stage play, he changed the ending. He thought that the realistic thing would be that Terry, like his brother, would be murdered. The director [of the film], Elia Kazan, didn’t like this. He wanted Terry to rise, almost Christ-like.

“That is why we love this film. We don’t leave the cinema crying — we go out thinking: ‘Thank God’. In the Jewish world, for some reason, all our heroes usually end up dead, from Samson onwards.”

Berkoff was insistent that his adaptation should have the ending of the original film. “I told Schulberg I didn’t like changes. I thought I could say it to him — after all, he’s 93 now. I said there was no way we could do it his way because the ending has been enshrined. You can’t change the myth. Nobody will accept it. They will riot.”


There were some big casting calls to be made, not least of which is Berkoff’s decision to act in the play as well as to direct. “The producers kept saying they wanted a face — a name. I’ve been around a number of years…” He is insistent, however, that Simon Merrells, who plays the Brando role, is very much the star of the piece. “We have a collection of the most amazing actors I’ve ever worked with. Merrells was born to play Malloy..."


Talking of London's East end: “There is another East End. I was in Brick Lane the other day and there was a terrific street trade, so much going on — an East End revival. Young people selling handicrafts, statues, painting, silks, scarves, clothes. There are a lot of creative people here. It’s phenomenal.”

However, he laments the passing of the Jewish East End and the spirit he used to know. Jews in this country, he feels, are not as proud of their identity as are their counterparts across the Atlantic.

“In England they feel too self-conscious about it. England is not a great lover of its Jews. Never has been. The English way of life is culturally rather refined if not effete. There is a slight distaste of the foreigner.”

Does this British antisemitism manifest itself in the theatrical establishment? Berkoff ponders for a moment: “They quite like diversity and will tolerate you as long as you act a bit gentile and don’t throw your chicken soup around too much. You are perfectly entitled occasionally even to touch the great prophet of British culture, Shakespeare, as long as you keep your Jewishness well zipped up.”

He adopts an upper-class accent: “As long as you speak like us and get rid of your accent you are perfectly acceptable. In Spain, they used to call these people marranos — secret Jews.

“Well, I’ve never been secret.”
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: February 02, 2009, 06:00:48 PM »

Berkoff is interviewed by Kieran Meeke in the London Metro on 27 Jan 2009.

...Is Waterfront – a story about dockworkers in 1950s America – still relevant to today?
Even more so. It’s an everlasting scene: corruption from the big boys, exploitation of the workers. In today’s credit crunch we see it yet again. The fat cats have taken over everything denationalised under the Thatcher regime – rail, lighting, heating etc – the price rises are appalling and the pay rises they give themselves are disgusting. They hold a nation to ransom.

...Isn’t that a bit rich from a well-paid Hollywood actor?
I never got vast amounts. Any I did get I put into my own company – even when we went to the Old Vic where we lost well into six figures. Whatever pennies I get, I recycle.

You must have enjoyed the money you got from suing Julie Burchill for calling you ugly…
I didn’t get any. It was taken to the House Of Lords but it was costing too much and we couldn’t go any further. It shut her up for a bit which was the main thing...

...Do you have any regrets in life?
No. Any small regret I’ve had, I’ve rechannelled into some work I’ve done, or a piece of direction, or a play.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: June 22, 2008, 10:37:58 PM »

Berkoff writes in the Telegraph on 22 June 2008 about "pub culture".

He writes "Poor old Britain seems to be sinking into despair over its youth - vacant, desolate, rootless, and abandoning themselves to the solace of booze.  Weren't we always a boozy nation, helped into that pathetic condition by our licensing laws, the rigid time-calling at 11pm and the boozers squabbling for a last drink? ".

He moves on to drama as it used to be on British on television "We watched a lot of television, which then was mostly drama. The Wednesday play, the play of the week, the play of the month - I can honestly say that the Beeb [BBC] cultivated in me a hunger for drama, since the plays chosen almost always made a strong impact upon our young and still raw emotions."

Steven is too over the top for his message to come through "Youth is steadily, slowly corrupted, slowly worn down by a deluge of cheap information, like a polluted river, and they drink from its foul and noxious waters. Yet, even so, there may be hope…"

You can read the article here: