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Discovering Multiple Sclerosis (MS): A Conversation with Go Now Producer Andrew Eaton

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Robert Carlyle delivers an astonishing piece of acting’ – Daily Telegraph

‘A big hearted anthem to love and friendship’ – Variety

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. Highlighting the impact multiple sclerosis has on a young sportsman and his loved ones, Go Now is a heart wrenching, intense and unforgettable film from 1995, and it comes to DVD 20 years after it was originally broadcast by the BBC, courtesy of Simply Media. Starring an outstanding cast with Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) in the lead role, directed by BAFTA winner Michael Winterbottom’ (The- Trip) and written by the multi award winning Jimmy’ McGovern (The- Street) and Paul Henry Powell (The Vice).

The BAFTA winning film arrives on DVD 12 September 2016, accompanied by an exclusive special feature with footballer Danny’ Wallace talking about his own experiences suffering with MS. Simply Media is collaborating with The’MS’Society’UK and will be donating £1 per DVD sold to the charity. Construction worker and keen amateur footballer Nick Cameron (Carlyle) has the best of everything when he meets and moves in with soulmate Karen (Juliet’ Aubrey’ –- The- Constant- Gardener).

But complications arise when symptoms of a mysterious illness including numbness and double vision begin to sap his energy. As MS sets in, his physical powers quickly diminish and he loses his job, his sport and his sexual drive. Eroded by frustration, anger and self pity, Nick lashes out at Karen, even accusing her of sleeping with her boss. At his lowest ebb, summoning vestiges of pride and self sacrifice, Nick urges Karen to leave him. Will she accept an easy escape from his despondency and rancour, or stand by this frail shell of the man she fell in love with?

The electrifying central performances are supported by engaging early screen appearances from James Nesbitt (Cold-Feet) and Sophie Okonedo (Undercover).

Blending raw emotion with laddish dark humour, Go Now was originally broadcast on the BBC in 1995 and won a BAFTA for Best Editing and writers Jimmy McGovern and Paul Henry Powell – who drew on his own experiences battling MS – shared the Royal Television Society’s Best Writer award…




How did the TV drama Go Now come about?

Michael and I had just worked together on a BBC drama series called Family and had set up our own production company, Revolution Films. We were looking for something to do next and Roxie Spencer, a script editor in BBC drama gave us Paul and Jimmy’s script. Michael and Jimmy had worked together quite recently on the first series of Cracker so there were a lot of different connections. We loved the script and all wanted to work together and the head of BBC Films, David Thompson agree to finance it.


It’s a Jimmy McGovern script and he co-wrote it with Paul Henry Powell. What was their connection?

It developed out of a writers’ workshop Jimmy was running and Paul was attending. Paul had started writing about his own experiences of MS and Jimmy agreed to work with him to develop the script.


Why did you want to make this film?

Michael and I came on board the project at the same time, when Roxie Spencer sent us the script and we met up with Jimmy and then Paul. We wanted to make the film because it was a good script – funny, truthful, romantic and heartbreaking.


Did the story lines change much from the original proposal? Did the script need to be made TV friendly in any way?

We worked on the script with Jimmy and Paul. Jimmy had a lot of faith in Michael’s ideas and changes we suggested to the script, having worked together successfully on Cracker. The script wasn’t changed specifically for television, except we knew the amount of swearing wouldn’t be acceptable, so we made a joke out of using bleeps instead in one scene.

The storyline didn’t change much, although it was Michael’s idea to set the film in Bristol. He had been to film school there at the University and thought it would be a good setting.


How did you go about casting the film?

The casting process was quite long and tortuous. It was hard to find a agreement with David Thompson about the best cast. Juliet was cast first and Bobby came in a bit later. Michael had worked with Jimmy Nesbitt before and Sophie seemed right to make up the fourth person. We had a lot of fun casting the pub football team – a bunch of actors we’ve gone on to work with many times since then.




The dynamic between Robert Carlyle and Juliet Aubrey is wholly believable. Was it hard work getting the right actors with the right chemistry together for these roles?

Bobby and Juliet got on well from the very beginning. They are both quite different as people but both brilliant actors. Michael sent them off to do research about MS and to talk with people who had experience of it.


Do men and women react differently to the symptoms or diagnosis of illness?

I don’t think you can generalise about gender differences when it comes to illness. There used to be a view, which may be true of some people, that men tend to ignore symptoms and can sometimes be more self-pitying when it comes to illness. You only have to listen to a group of men discussing “man flu” to get a sense of that.


Was the film well received by the public?

The film was very well received at the time and went on to win a lot of awards. It was sold all over the world and released in the cinema in quite a few countries, including the US. It certainly seemed to shine a light on MS and its effects and perhaps brought the subject to the attention of a wider public.


How would you approach the film differently if you were remaking it for the present day?

I don’t think you would approach the film very differently these days. At that time you had to go to a library to research a medical condition whereas people can do that from home these days, but apart from that, things haven’t changed that much.


Go Now is set in Bristol…

The city of Bristol became quite an important character in the film. We made use of a lot of different locations in the city to try and make it as cinematic as possible.




£1 from every DVD sale will be donated to the MS Society.

Go Now comes to DVD 12 September courtesy of Simply Media and in conjunction with The MS Socieity

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