The Norman Conquests: 10 Facts

10 Facts offer an at a glance guide to some of the key information relating to Alan Ayckbourn's plays.
  • The Norman Conquests was apparently written as the result of a facetious reply to a journalist in 1972 when Alan Ayckbourn was asked what his follow up to Absurd Person Singular would be. He replied, not altogether seriously, 'a trilogy' which was then published as fact the following year.
  • The plays were originally produced in Scarborough at the Library Theatre in June 1973 as Fancy Meeting You, Make Yourself At Home and Round And Round The Garden and there was no mention of the title The Norman Conquests. The final titles of Table Manners, Living Together and Round And Round The Garden under the overall title of The Norman Conquests only came with the London premiere of the plays at the Greenwich Theatre in May 1974.
  • The first play to enter rehearsals was Table Manners and this accounts for Norman's late entry into this piece. The actor playing Norman, Christopher Godwin, was unavailable for the first week of rehearsals so Alan wrote Table Manners to accommodate for his absence.
  • A common reported factual error presumes that actors from the 1974 West End production - Felicity Kendall and Penelope Keith - were poached from television's The Good Life for the show. It was actually the other way round with the people behind the popular sitcom inspired by the play and securing a third of the cast for the television show which began in 1975.
  • The Norman Conquests won the Evening Standard and the Play & Players Awards for Best Play. When the Old Vic's 2008 revival of the play transferred to New York in 2009, it would win the Tony for Best Revival; the first Ayckbourn play to win a Tony Award.
  • In 1975, Alan Ayckbourn held the record for the most plays being performed in the West End with five productions; this was as a result of the concurrent productions of The Norman Conquests trilogy alongside Absurd Person Singular and Absent Friends.
  • The Norman Conquests was published in hardback by Chatto & Windus in 1975, marking the first mass-market publication of an Ayckbourn play. This remains one of the most collectible published editions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays.
  • The trilogy was filmed in 1977 with Tom Conti as Norman and was incredibly popular in both the UK and the USA. The UK broadcast marked the first time that six hours of prime-time viewing had apparently ever been dedicated to a living playwright.
  • It is the only play by Alan Ayckbourn to have been released on video cassette, DVD, digital download / streaming, audio cassette, CD and as a digital audio download!
  • In 1999, as part of its NT2000 celebrations, the National Theatre named The Norman Conquests as one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.