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by dr andrew cousins

The Ken Russett Diaries

In the 1970’s, Ken Russett was the enfant terrible of British Cinema. His brash, bold film making style with it’s liberal use of screen nudity often incurred the wrath of studios and censors alike. His bitter divorce from Britt Ekland was splashed across every tabloid newspaper in the country. In 1977, Universal Pictures financed what Ken believed to be his greatest work, Thanks for the Mammaries, a semi-autobiographical film in which a young filmmaker looks back over his life. When horrified studio executives saw the final cut they deemed the film unreleasable. Ken tried unsuccessfully to sue them but it was clear that his career was largely over. The film has never been seen by the general public. Netribution has been granted exclusive access to Ken’s diaries which document the making of the troubled production.


August 1976.

Began work on new screenplay. V. EXCITED! Rang Roger Moore (whom I know) to ask if he’d be interested in a cameo. The bugger’s in Prague making another bloody Bond film! Such cinematic drivel will be the death of the British film industry!

Decide script needs more shagging in it.


November 1976.

Fed cat. Watered plants. Finished script.


February 1977.

Universal have given the go-ahead on ‘Mammaries’. HOO-BLOODY-RAY! Rang Oliver Reed (whom I know) to ask if he wants the leading role. Olly was a bit incoherent. I think he might have been drinking.

Do a quick re-write of the script to insert a bit more shagging.


7th April 1977.

First day of principal photography. PALPITATIONS! I’ve got a super cast, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, Alan Bates (all of whom I know). Also gave a part to Anthony Hopkins. He’s just finished doing the sequel to National Velvet for Brian Forbes (whom I also know). BLOODY AWFUL FILM! No wonder the British film industry is on its knees! Hopkins was good though.

Tinker with the script. I’ve inserted a bit more shagging.


12th April 1977.

PROBLEMS! Glenda is concerned about the amount of sex in the script. I point out that the film is an accurate reflection of the early part of my life. It takes ten minutes for her to stop laughing. Later, Oliver asks me out for a drink after we wrap for the day. Knowing that Olly’s ‘little drinks’ tend to escalate into 24-hour benders, I politely refuse.

4.30AM. Police have picked Oliver up. He was wandering around the high street trying to pick a fight with a post box. Have to go down to the station to collect him in the morning.


13th April 1977

Oliver is very quiet on set today. Hopkins corners me to tell me about this idea he’s had for a one-man version of Hamlet. Apparently the whole play is supposed to take place in his head. It all sounds a bit mad to me.


2nd May 1977

Divorce came through. Bit depressed. Wrote a new scene in which a blonde-haired Swedish woman is burnt at the stake. Tore it up. Put a bit more shagging in instead.


23rd May 1977

Glenda is refusing the latest version of the script! She says that the amount of sex is ‘ludicrous’. BLOODY WOMAN! Doesn’t she recognise art when she sees it? To cap it all she says that she’s giving up acting and moving into politics instead. I’ll believe it when it happens.

Eventually persuade her to go with the new draft of the script. I bet she didn’t give Morecambe and Wise this much trouble.


24th June 1977

Final day of principal photography. CUT. PRINT. IT’S A BLOODY WRAP!


1st July 1977

Fed cat. Watered plants. Began editing.


21st July 1977

Assembly edit is standing at a little over three and a half hours. When I suggest that there isn’t enough nudity the editor makes a strange whining noise and starts rocking backwards and forwards in his chair. I think the poor man’s been working too hard.


15th August 1977

Rough-cut is down to a more manageable two hours. I’ve hired Ennio Morricone to do the score. He keeps telling me that the music should "fill the gaps between the acting and the silence". I nod as if I understand what he’s talking about.


25th September 1977

Final cut. Running time down to 1 hour 45. It’s my greatest work. I screen it before Universal’s executives tomorrow.


26th September 1977

Screening room. 10 am. The lights go down.

11.45 am. Credits roll. SILENCE. I ask what they think. They say it’s "interesting". They are going to get back to me. PHILLISTINES! Don’t they recognise art when they see it?

10.35 pm. Bit depressed. Rang Olly. He calls them a "bunch of wankers".

28th September 1977

DISASTER! Universal say they cannot release "Mammaries"! I STARE INTO THE ABYSS! Immediately phone solicitor. I shall sue!

12th December 1977

Lost the case. I fear "Mammaries" shall never see the light of day. TRAGEDY!

13th December 1977

Throw myself into my work. I’m developing an all-nude version of Moby Dick. One slight hitch. For the life of me I can’t fathom how I’m going to work any shagging into it…

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