Les Kellett is one of the most mysterious figures in British wrestling.
Simon Garfield’s epic quest to meet the man ended with failure despite the proliferation of letters he sent.
But the anecdotes from his co-workers of the time were terrifying. (Pat ‘Bomber’ Roach seemed to be the only one who found time to mention a kinder part of Kellett’s personality.)
He may have been hilarious in the ring, but he was also physically tough – and terrifying.
“To get to anything about Les Kellett is almost impossible – the myth, the nonsense,” admits screenwriter Harvey Auzorst.
Researching and writing a biopic of Kellett, then, must be one of the most difficult tasks – but Auzorst has had a helping hand along the way, courtesy of William Regal.
He’d taken interest in an earlier, Blackpool-set piece of his work, and put Auzorst in touch with people who’d worked and travelled with Kellett, and vouched for his integrity with them; and then they put him in touch with others.
“I didn’t want to pursue a sensational angle. the wrestling community – rightly, in my view – is quite guarded and wary of people poking around it. They feel it will be misrepresented or cheapened, and it’s a valid concern,” he says. “So when I called them, I was invited in. Before you know it, you’re pulling together this enormous wealth of stuff. It all snowballed. I never thought I’d have the source information to hand – I’m very lucky to have it.”
Auzorst is by necessity cagey about his work due to the need to protect it until it gets made, but his enthusiasm for the subject is clear, suggesting that some of Kellett’s documented darker deeds indicate his sense of profound self-loathing.
“At five foot seven he still manages to cast a shadow over everything,” he says. “There’s a presence.
“I’ve been asked which might be the WWE counterparts for that generation of wrestlers – for Kellett I said if you took William Regal, Dean Ambrose and Damien Sandow, and you put them together and boiled them in a broth of Haku and Jake Roberts, you might be in the same postal district, but no closer.”
And if money were no object, who would he see being cast?
“Realistically,” he muses, “Peter Firth.”
Now, with the writing done, Auzorst just needs the funding to get the film made. Watch this space…