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Old Terringtonian writes acclaimed filmscript

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Writing under the name of Toby Torlesse, Old Terringtonian Toby Latham has launched his career as a scriptwriter at the age of 23 with an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Second World War novel Waiting for Anya.

Acclaimed by Sir Michael as ‘unquestionably, the best film adaptation of any of my books’, the script was filmed on location in the French Pyrenees in Spring 2018 and will be released nationwide from 21 February.

Toby left Terrington Hall in 2010 on a sports scholarship to Rugby School and attended St Peter’s sixth form where he took A levels in English (A*), History (A*) and Latin (A). He graduated from Edinburgh University last summer with a first in History.

He was 18 when he started work on the filmscript in the summer holidays after A levels, inspired perhaps by a chance meeting with Michael Morpurgo when, as a young boy aged 11, he attended one of the opening performances of ‘War Horse’ at the National Theatre.

‘Before I met Michael, I was a reluctant reader. War Horse was the first book I read cover to cover. When I saw Michael at the performance signing copies I queued up with my programme. He was something of hero to me, so I persuaded my mum to buy another copy of War Horse so that I could queue up again.

‘That chance meeting and the conversation we had set me on my path today. I started to read in a way I never had before, and when I wanted to pursue my screenwriting, it was Waiting for Anya, my favourite of Michael’s novels, that I chose.’

Toby also recalls the influence of his old Latin and English teacher Mr Witteveen at Terrington Hall: ‘Nick inspired in me a love of creative writing. He was a real maverick who had an amazing knack of pulling out the best in you, both in and out of the classroom.’

Mr Witteveen, meanwhile, is not at all surprised by Toby’s success. ‘Toby always had incredible drive and determination. What marked him out was his extraordinary ability to write authentically from his own experience, that he listened and that he was able to take advice. From an early age you could see that he was destined for success. The only thing holding him back was a lack of belief in his own talents. Hopefully, the release of ‘Waiting for Anya’ will put paid to that. It is a very proud moment to see him succeed.’

Below, some photographs from the set of 'Waiting for Anya' showing Toby with Michael Morpurgo and Anjelica Huston (Spring 2018); and Toby meeting with Mr Witteveen on a return visit to Terrington Hall (2020)




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