He has written powerful dramas about the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Dominic Cummings. The playwright explains why he’s now tackling 11 vitriolic TV debates that gripped America
Last May, the playwright James Graham found himself in the unfamiliar environs of Question Time. He hadn’t planned to become a spokesperson for theatre during the pandemic, but he happened to be promoting the ITV version of Quiz, his hit 2017 play, just as the sector was screaming for a bailout, and he used his platform wisely. One thing led to another. At the same time, he was researching his new play, Best of Enemies, about 11 landmark televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F Buckley Jr in August 1968.
“I heard the Question Time music and my brain emptied of every single thing I’d ever thought,” he says with a comical shudder. “I’m not naturally good at broadcast media. That’s why it’s fascinating to spend time in the heads of Vidal and Buckley. I was ashamed by the distance between what I could do and what they did. They were impossibly articulate.”