Terry Pratchett – Back in Black

Terry Pratchett Back In Black
Image Credit: BBC/Charlie Russell

It is hard to describe this programme: part documentary, part film, with twisted comic moments that made Terry Pratchett and his creations so recognisable and loved.

Back in Black is, or rather was, Pratchett’s attempt to tell his own live story before he died in 2015. It was never completed by the time the blue-eyed Death took him. In this programme, Pratchett is played by Paul Kaye, who reads Pratchett’s own words as he tells the story of Pratchett’s life – from his school days and the headmaster who said Pratchett would never amount to anything, to his time working at the local paper and the creation of his first novel, and moving onto to Discworld and finally Pratchett’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Kaye’s portrayal of Pratchett is brilliant. It is tempting to say that he bringing him back to life, but I don’t want to do Death a disservice. All of the wonderful little anecdotes bring joy to the story, such as how he met Arthur C. Clark in a toilet at a sci-fi convention, and what served as the inspiration for The Luggage. You also have the more poignant moments from contributors to the programme, such as Val McDermid reading from Pratchett’s final novel and Neil Gaiman getting teary as he talks about the last time he met Pratchett.

Everyone will take away a different thing from watching this programme. For me, it is the feeling that I need to continue reading his books. As well as reviewing TV I review books too, but I get so many books that I get bogged down and other series get left aside. I haven’t gone back to Discworld in ages, so now I feel the need, more than ever, to return to the Great A’Tuin and relive the fun.

Terry Pratchett – Back in Black is on BBC iPlayer.