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Play about Diana’s Panorama interview to use ‘limited amount of quotes’

A play about the controversial Panorama interview given by Diana, Princess of Wales will use only a “very limited” amount of quotes on the advice of lawyers.

Jonathan Maitland, who wrote The Last Temptation Of Boris Johnson, is behind the production of The Interview, which focuses on how the bombshell programme featuring former BBC journalist Martin Bashir came about.

The playwright, a former journalist, worked with Bashir at the BBC and ITV.

The Royal Television Society North West 2008 Awards
Jonathan Maitland (Richard Stonehouse/PA)

He said that he will not be using “substantial chunks” of the interview due to copyright law and the view of the Prince of Wales.

A report by Lord Dyson concluded in 2021 that the BBC covered up “deceitful behaviour” by Bashir to secure the meeting and led to a call from William for it never to be aired again.

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Maitland told the PA news agency: “On the advice of lawyers, we can use a very limited amount of it (the interview) ie two or three lines – but only ones well known and famous enough to be in the public domain as historical quotes, like ‘there were three of us in this marriage’.”

The production, directed by Michael Fentiman – who worked on the Royal Shakespeare Company and a musical version of Amelie, is set to premiere at the Park Theatre in October.

It is described as giving “an insight into the story behind the interview: the woman who gave it, the man who made it happen, and the institution that broadcast it”.

Maitland said: “There’s an awful lot of her trying to decide whether or not she should do the interview and, if so, what she should say.

The X Factor: Celebrity Launch – London
A report by Lord Dyson concluded in 2021 that the BBC covered up ‘deceitful behaviour’ by Martin Bashir, pictured, to secure the meeting (Ian West/PA)

“Then there’s a kind of bit of the interview, but with kind of working around it… and then there’s a lot of the aftermath and the subsequent scandal and fall from grace of Bashir.”

Former royal butler turned I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! contestant Paul Burrell is also set to be portrayed by an actor as a “narrator who breaks the fourth wall”.

In The Observer, Maitland previously recalled that Bashir would change the subject when Diana was mentioned to “sport or music”.

He also told PA: “I’ve spoken to some people who are quite closely involved on the TV side… And I reached out to a couple of people from the palace and got kind of limited responses.”

Previously, the hit Netflix series The Crown had dramatised the Diana interview in its fifth season.

The Interview runs from October 27 to November 25 at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London.