BBC Radio 4, 29 April 2008
Throughout his life
the poet Philip Larkin created an image of the poet as ordinary person stuck in a humdrum existence, writing about everyday
things in colloquial idiom. His near-contemporary Ted Hughes might have been fond of predatory animals and primitive myths;
Larkin preferred to write about old people and Whitsun Weddings. The publication of his letters soon after his death caused
quite a stir, revealing Larkin to be both racist and sexist. Chris Harrald’s play Mr.
Larkin’s Awkward Day made no attempt to challenge this image. Set in 1957, it recounted a chaotic day in Larkin’s
life as he chaired meetings at Hull University library,
visited a porn shop and had an unfortunate encounter with the local constabulary. Larkin (Adrian Scarborough) came across
as a fundamentally pleasant personality, writing poetry when the fancy took him, who preoccupied himself with the minutiae
of life. Scarborough’s performance was low-key with few vocal pyrotechnics –
even he seemed reluctant to challenge Larkin’s image.