The nasty world of Get Carter was inspired by the appalling poverty I saw in Britain | Letter

Mike Hodges, the writer and director of the 1971 film, describes how he was radicalised while on national service in the navy

I’m grateful to Peter Bradshaw for his review of Get Carter, which I wrote and directed (Michael Caine delivers in stone-cold crime classic, 25 May). It begins with a question: “Even after 50 years, do we properly get Carter?” Maybe I can help answer that.

In the late 1950s, I spent two years in compulsory national service. I found myself on the lower deck of a Royal Navy minesweeper in the UK’s Fishery Protection squadron. This brought me into contact with the fishing communities around these islands, in ports such as Grimsby, Hull, Lowestoft and North Shields, where I eventually set much of the film.

For two years, my middle-class eyes were forced to witness horrendous poverty and deprivation that I was previously unaware of. I went into the navy as a newly qualified chartered accountant and complacent young Tory, and came out an angry, radical young man.

Twenty years later, when I was asked to adapt Ted Lewis’s great book, I recognised that world and attached my own experiences to it. No way was I going to pull my punches. All the adjectives that Mr Bradshaw uses to describe the world depicted in Get Carter – sleazy, slimy, nasty – could equally apply to William Hogarth’s excoriating portrayal of Britain. Sadly, I share that view.
Mike Hodges
Durweston, Dorset

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