|Michael J Bird Tribute Website|
"I too rate Michael's work highly and of course after The Lotus Eaters 1972/73 we became great friends.Michael and Ian (Hendry) were both very underrated. Their talent will be missed. Ian should have been an International star - and Michael was full of original ideas, which were never commissioned. He had some wonderful stories to tell and masses of ideas - The Lotus Eaters could have gone on for some considerable time had it not been for Ian Hendry's health."
"I'd not met Michael when I was cast in his The Outsider for Yorkshire TV. Only when I arrived on the set was a firm friendship twixt writer and actor made. From that moment we became firm friends, me, 'im and Olive.
There are many, like me, who will miss him very, very much. Apart from owt he and I will not be exchanging Christmas cards this year and he'll not be making that cherished film of his set on the Greek island of Koz. But I'm sure he's busy up there - wherever there is - and I trust when I next see him (but not yet awhile please!) he'll have a great part waiting for me. See Ya - not too soon - mate."
Emily Richard still recalls the detail in Michael's script, discussions with the director, cast and producer in rather bleak hotel rooms and a boat trip to Simi with Michael. "Olive arrived ... and I remember walking with her in the small streets of Rhodes telling her about our longed for pregnancy."
"Without exception ... everyone connected with The Dark Side of the Sun was supportive and generous with their time and affection for the project. That was M.J.B.'s gift - to bring people together."
"I had no idea that Michael had died and was very sorry to hear of it.
I remember him very fondly - he was a charming, warm,
witty person and as a writer a delight for actors as he was both approachable and
flexible. Not always the case.
These days one often only meets the writer briefly at a read through but I do remember Michael being around quite a lot and being constructive and jolly ... and buying a lot of drinks."
"I consider Michael to have been one of the most original
talents and a most interesting man with whom I spent
quite a few evenings in some taverna in Aghios Nikolaos
in Crete where we were filming The Lotus Eaters.
It was around 1972 and Michael was in top form. He was a born story teller and in the evening, after the other members of the crew had left, Michael and I would chew the fat, talk about scenes scheduled for filming the next day and life in general. Even if only half of what he told me were true, Michael at an earlier time in his life must have been halfway to being a "spook" a kind of James Bond. I can't quote chapter and verse now but I do remember being enthralled by his tales of cloak and dagger doings.
Michael was never overly protective of his work; he would listen to ideas, allowing a metamorphosis to occur which is why I held and still hold him in such high regard. Often discussions would end with Michael rewriting dialogue on a napkin, which I would then retype and shove under the bedroom doors of the sleeping actors. This didn't make either of us popular but it made for more imaginative story-telling."
"Michael Bird: a person, a friend for the Greek Film Centre
I met Michael Bird in the Spring of 1977. As producer, I had taken on the Greek part of the production of Who Pays the Ferryman? and I was with Michael, the director Bill Slater and the head of the production Colin Dudley in Crete in order to arrange the locations for filming. During the trip, as is usual for me, I tried to understand with whom I was travelling and with whom I would share my life during summer that the filming would last.
On the way from Chania to Aghios Nikolaos where we were based, I decided that in Michael I saw three different people - three different characters. At the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Greek author, Michael had been moved by viewing the final resting place of his favourite author and he read and re-read in a whisper, in the Greek language, the phrase which was inscribed on the marble:
Later, when my relationship with Michael went beyond the professional and turned into a deep friendship I saw that I had judged him correctly early on in our acquaintance.
He was a person who believed in always giving of his true self, whatever he was involved in. Although he came from a country so very far from the island of Crete, he was able to give to the scene the real character of that idiosyncratic island. This ability to really get to grips with the Cretean characteristics became obvious not only in his work but also in his interactions with the people around him, in the coffee shops, the streets, the houses and the areas where he contemplated and created his heroes.He was always one step ahead of everyone else, even me, a Greek. Perhaps it was because he had the same ideology as Kazantzakis. I thank Michael Bird because I learned more about Greece through him. "
"I had the pleasure of working
with Michael for several years and grew quite fond of this vexatious,
talented, irritating, unpleasant, cantankerous, entertaining, witty, delightful, sympathetic, lying, promising, charming and difficult man.
We had started working together on a TV series entitled 'Brett' for the BBC before moving on to The Lotus Eaters. After I became Controller of Drama at Yorkshire Television we made several programmes together. After each one I said "I will never work with him again - he is impossible." But I liked him so I always did."
"My relationship with Michael Bird was most amicable and I considered him to be a very professional,
talented and creative writer. At times he tended to 'mix' the relationships between director,
artistes and producer, which created a rather tense atmosphere. I think he felt this all helped to
keep everyone on their toes and was a way of protecting his work. Occasionally he demonstrated being
quite dramatic and emotional when he wanted a change in a scene or an adjustment to the interpretation
of one of his characters. Nevertheless, these moments of 'off screen' drama did not affect the end
product and the success his scripts so rightly achieved.
Sometimes writers deliver their scripts in an untidy state, but not in the case of Michael J. Bird. It was always a welcome sight to see a perfectly well typed, neat layout on the pages of his scripts and rarely did the content not match the high quality of the typed pages.
Overall I consider some of the highlights in my 40 year career in film and television were due to the very imaginative writing and excellent scripts Michael J. Bird so often delivered. "
"I hadn't realised that Michael had died. I'm so very sorry - he was so lovely and
I enjoyed working with him enormously. I remember him telling me about how he used a word processor
to do his writing. I was terribly impressed - there weren't many of them around then. We're talking 1982ish.
I so wish I had had the opportunity of working with him further - I would have loved that. He was smashing and a very natural and approachable man."
"I became acquainted with Michael's work in 1978 when "Who Pays the Ferryman?" was shown on Dutch television for the first time and it instantly made a lasting impression on me. The superb setting in the lovely village of Elounda, the actors who portrayed Michael's characters to such perfection and of course the intriguing story with it's tragic ending leaving the viewer with the sad feeling that although he had found love, Haldane would never find peace of mind and happiness for the rest of his life.
The endings to his stories seem to have been Michael's special trademark, creating circumstances that lead to an "and they lived unhappily ever after" situation, also very much evident in "The Lotus Eaters" , "The Dark Side of the Sun", and "The Outsider".
Although I enjoyed and admire all his work, "Who Pays the Ferryman?" always was and still is my absolute favourite. But it wasn't until after the re run in 1999 on an "oldies" channel that I began to wonder about the writer. Who was Michael J. Bird, the man who created such colourful characters as Major Krasakis with his special brand of philosophy? I couldn't find a satisfactory answer to my question until I stumbled on this gem of a website with a seemingly never ending source of information about this wonderful writer and the people who worked with and surrounded him.
Nothing I read about Michael Bird really surprised me. It would take a person with a very complex and highly imaginative nature, as Michael must have had, to create the stories and characters that distinguish his work among that of other television writers."
|Michael J Bird Tribute Website|
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