Maureen Lipman to direct the world stage premiere of The Knowledge

Acclaimed actress and writer Maureen Lipman is to direct the world stage premiere of Jack Rosenthal’s The Knowledge.

The Knowledge is based on the iconic 1979 TV film comedy. Maureen not only played a leading role in the film, but is also Jack Rosenthal’s widow.

Set against the backdrop of the harsh economic times of 1979, the play follows the hilarious struggles of four Londoners as they attempt to better themselves by attempting the fearsome “Knowledge” – the process of becoming a London black cab taxi driver. Standing between them and the coveted Green Badge is the eccentric Mr. Burgess, the examiner. Also known as “The Vampire”, he is on an obsessive mission to maintain standards.”

Maureen said: “It is 13 years since I lost my husband, the unassuming genius Jack Rosenthal. The Knowledge is perhaps Jack’s best realised play – a hymn to the London that he came to love. It shows the years of pain, strain and sacrifice that London cabbies have to endure to acquire The Knowledge, pass the world’s toughest and most terrifying taxi examinations and earn the right to wear the Green Badge. 38 years since The Knowledge was first screened on ITV, London’s finest cab drivers face challenges from UBER and their sat navs, bike lanes, road works and terror. But they represent the unique excellence and expertise that has made London the great city we are all so proud of and they deserve our support … because they, and we, are worth it. This is my 50th year in the acting business and, having acted in the original film, I was thrilled to be asked to make The Knowledge the next show I direct. Simon Block has created a wonderful stage adaptation that preserves all the best of Jack’s original writing, and I am really excited to be involved.”

The Knowledge was nominated for a BAFTA as Best Single Play. In 1995, film historian Geoff Phillips declared it “certainly the best TV play Britain has ever produced”. In 2000, the BFI voted it as one of the TV 100 – the 100 greatest television programmes, of any genre, ever screened.

Casting to be announced.

The Knowledge will preview at Charing Cross Theatre from Monday 4 September and run 10 weeks to Saturday 11 November 2017.

Photo: Elliott Franks