Music & Memories

Roald Dahl wanted Charlie to be black

Roald Dahl originally planned for the main character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be black, the author's widow has revealed.

The 1964 book is one of Dahl's best loved and has been made into films starring Gene Wilder in 1971 and Johnny Depp in 2005.

Liccy Dahl told BBC Radio 4's Today her husband originally wrote the story about a "little black boy".

"I'm sure that was influenced by America."

When asked why the character was changed, she said: "I don't know, it was a great pity."

Her husband's biographer Donald Sturrock said Charlie was made into a white character after Dahl's agent said a black child would not appeal to readers.

He told the program: "I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.

"She said people would ask: 'Why?'"

Speaking on what would have been her husband's 101st birthday, Dahl also said her husband had not been pleased with the first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film - which was the only movie adaptation of his books made in his lifetime.

"He wasn't very happy with Charlie, the original with Gene Wilder, that was only really the film that was made.

"After he died the first film to be made was James And The Giant Peach and then we were inundated with requests."

© PAA 2017

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