In the letter, Emma's father, just back from the war, asked for an audition with the BBC for a chance to work at the corporation.
Emma Thompson shared an emotional moment with BBC's The One Show listeners after she was taken aback by a letter her late father wrote to the BBC that had been lost for many years. The father of the "Love Actually" actress, Eric Thompson, had a successful career, best known for presenting the 1960s children's TV show "Play School" and narrating the children's program "The Magic Roundabout."
Emma was promoting her next movie, "Matilda: The Musical," on The One Show when hosts Zoe Ball and Jermaine Jenas presented her with a letter from her father requesting an audition with the BBC. Jenas reminded Emma that they told her they would be surprising her, continuing to reveal the beautiful surprise they had planned for the actress.
Jenas explained, Emma's father, just back from the war, asked for an audition with the BBC for a chance to work at the corporation in the letter. “There's this letter from your dad to the BBC. So he says he's just left the army and that he's been advised to write a letter to ask for an audition with the BBC. And I'll tell you what it says, so it says: 'I have no broadcasting experience apart from an audition in Birmingham some years ago, but I have had stage experience both amateur and repertory'.”
The letter also accompanied an audition report written by BBC producers as well as pictures of her father, Eric, when he was younger. Bell handed the letter and the attachments to a visibly shocked Emma and continued, “And the good news is, Emma, he did get an audition, three years later. The producers wrote a positive report on him, which you can have a look at now, so good, isn’t it? And you can see there, they noted that he had a ‘quiet charm and a twinkle and an obvious sense of humor.'”
"OH MY GOODNESS!" 💙— BBC The 100 Show (@BBCTheOneShow) October 25, 2022
We surprised Dame Emma Thompson with her father's BBC audition letter from 1950! 🥲
Thanks for the help from the excellent @BBCArchive team! 👏#TheOneShow 👉 https://t.co/SYDD4c3Rml #BBC100 pic.twitter.com/Nw0q6cDqj5
Rereading the BBC story left Emma stunned and clearly overwhelmed by emotion, she took off her glasses and wiped away a tear. She said, holding out the black-and-white pictures of her loving father, “Check him out! He was a bit of alright wasn't he really!” She added, emotional and heart warmed by BBC's gesture, “My mother, who is 90, is watching this! Mum! I mean honestly, look!”
Before joining the Old Vic theater company in 1952, Eric was a trained actor who also wrote plays and directed productions. His adaptation of "The Magic Roundabout," from the original French version "Le Manege Enchante," gained him a lot of praise and led him to become very well-known. The French stop motion animation program's footage was used in the English version, which the BBC aired from 1965 and 1977 but with new scripts and characters.
Eric passed away in 1982 at the age of 53 after a sudden heart attack. "They didn't have much money when I was little, so it was very hard for them," Thompson shared with the BAFTA Guru. She said the passing of her father had really affected her, "I grew up in an incredibly happy family, but it was damaged by this physical trauma."
"Family is the centre of everything for me," Thompson told The Guardian in 2010. "But family is about connection, not necessarily about blood ties. It's about extended family – and extending family."