13th Jul2021

Interview: Nick Triplow on his book ‘Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir’

by Stuart Wright

In his latest podcast/interview, host and screenwriter Stuart Wright talks to writer Nick Triplow about his new book Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir, which is out now from No Exit Press: https://www.noexit.co.uk/index1.php?imprint=1&isbn=&ebookid=1689

The story of Ted Lewis carries historical and cultural resonances for our own troubled times. Get Carter are two words to bring a smile of fond recollection to all British film lovers of a certain age. The cinema classic was based on a book called Jack’s Return Home, and many commentators agree contemporary British crime writing began with that novel. The influence of both book and film is strong to this day, reflected in the work of David Peace, Jake Arnott and a host of contemporary crime & noir authors. But what of the man who wrote this seminal work? Ted Lewis is one of the most important writers you’ve never heard of. Born in Manchester in 1940, he grew up in the tough environs of post-war Humberside, attending Hull College of Arts and Crafts before heading for London. His life described a cycle of obscurity to glamour and back to obscurity, followed by death at only 42. He sampled the bright temptations of sixties London while working in advertising, TV and films and he encountered excitement and danger in Soho drinking dens, rubbing shoulders with the ‘East End boys’ in gangland haunts. He wrote for Z Cars and had some nine books published. Alas, unable to repeat the commercial success of Get Carter, Lewis’s life fell apart, his marriage ended and he returned to Humberside and an all too early demise. Getting Carter is a meticulously researched and riveting account of the career of a doomed genius. Long-time admirer Nick Triplow has fashioned a thorough, sympathetic and unsparing narrative. Required reading for noirists, this book will enthral and move anyone who finds irresistible the old cocktail of rags to riches to rags.

In addition to talking to us about Ted Lewis’s mark on the Brit Noir literary and cinematic landscape, Nick Triplow also treats us to the eight films that arguably laid the foundations for the iconic movie GET CARTER (1971) – adapted from Lewis’s novel from a year earlier – JACK’S RETURN HOME (1970). And like Get Carter, most of these films are adaptations of novels too:

  • BRIGHTON ROCK (1947)
  • NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950)
  • THE THIRD MAN (1949)
  • THE LONG MEMORY (1953)
  • HELL IS A CITY (1960)
  • THE CRIMINAL (1957)
  • HELL DRIVERS (1957)
  • THE BLUE LAMP (1950)

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