In London recently to visit my past. The milestones, places and venues which feature prominently in my unusual story called Eclipsed.
I began in North London at the Hen and Chickens theatre – a 60 seater where I did my very first one-man show – quaking in my boots with nerves which I assured myself would pass with time and experience, only they haven’t.
And from here – armed with my iPhone to the more salubrious district of Victoria and specifically to the Victoria Palace Theatre.
You can see where this is going now.
The theatre is currently home to HAMILTON – of which Nikki and the boys are big fans (I have yet to see it) but the recently refurbished ‘Palace’ will always remain the venue where my story began when Tom happened to appear as a Billy Elliot. Standing outside the theatre now, I reminisce fondly about when and why we first saw Billy Elliot the Musical. We saw it because Tom had been asked to audition for the title role and on seeing what was required of the dancing boy, how we laughed at such a ludicrous prospect.
And then I am off again, to even more salubrious pastures – Park Lane no less, and the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair. A granddaddy of a hotel with London’s most famous ballroom. A venue where everyone who is anyone has dined and received an accolade of some kind – Tom included, with his first movie gong for his turn in The Impossible.
The Grosvenor’s ballroom is appropriately called The Great Room and is central to Eclipsed – because without the many gigs I have done in this room (and elsewhere) I could not have afforded the time to write my screenplays and novels – which are crucial elements of Eclipsed – and the contrasting lives of father and son.
Not to mention, that the Grosvenor House was the venue in my imagination when I wrote Only in America (novel and sceenplay) and the venue that inspired Hobbs’ Journey also.
And then to the BBC. Television Centre in west London and close to my old school. A building where I had toured as a wide eyed school kid, only for it to become my place of work. I have great affection for the place – still a TV studio although much reduced nowadays to accommodate a welter of luxury apartments which change hands for many millions. It was here that I made my TV debut, appearing on The Stand Up Show – and where in 2001 having appeared on the BBC’s Royal Variety Show, I was invited to the Stars Party and was heralded to such an extent that I rushed home to wake Nikki and tell her that I’d made it! I don’t know whether these parties are an annual event but I haven’t been invited since and fair enough. When I visit the BBC now, it is not to appear on shows but to watch them being recorded. Shows like The Graham Norton Show and when Tom is appearing. His time to be nervous then, only he isn’t!
And finally on my way home – I stopped off at the IMAX theatre, a little along from Waterloo Station – where The Impossible had its London premiere and where I state in Eclipsed, that my story completed.
In my head it did anyway. Old man having chalked off some successes but now a career that is plateauing – whilst son has starred in the West End and has already bagged himself a leading role in a feature film.
What a story!
A hit book, surely, that publishers will be clambering over…
The manuscript was rejected by ALL publishers and for variations on the same theme – that the story felt under-cooked.
“The kid is not a star”
“Dominic Holland is too successful to write a book called Eclipsed.”
In the intervening years, both of these issues have been firmly dealt with – and even though there are some updates in the new edition – essentially, the story remains the same. And so, I was right all along. The story did complete after The Impossible and everything since has just been a garnish.
Recording the Audio book was a great experience and a cathartic one. Revisiting anecdotes of my haplessness were fun to share around the dinner table, although Paddy couldn’t contribute because he has no recollection of this most exciting five years. For this reason alone, the book and now the audio edition are worth it as a family chronicle. A time when something extraordinary visited us and something that could never have been anticipated. A happy fluke which still reverberates around us all more than a decade later.
Eclipsed Audio – read by Dom and in conversation with Tom is published on 19th June 2022.
And despite the ever lengthening odds of this Eclipse being reversed – I remain happily delusional and equally determined to at least threaten the status quo of the Holland boys getting ahead of their dad.
My new novel – Made in England – is published on July 3rd 2022 – and assuming this one is not the silver bullet either – you can expect more output from me in the months, years and I hope, the decades ahead.
Eclipsed Audio can be pre-ordered now ahead of Sunday’s publication – Click here
Happy listening to my ‘pain’ and Tom’s joy!