WATCH: Russell Crowe on the time his reading of a Patrick Kavanagh poem was cut by the BBC
"I was told that Kavanagh was not supposed to be read on the British Broadcasting Commission (sic).”
A regular visitor to these parts, Hollywood A-lister Russell Crowe was back in Ireland in the last few days and after sampling Dublin’s social life earlier in the week, he made an appearance on the Late Late Show on Friday night.
As well as performing with his band, Indoor Garden Party, Crowe had plenty to talk about, from how it’s impossible to get a shit pint in Dublin to Ireland’s recent meetings with the All-Blacks to a tale about a famous episode during a BAFTA awards ceremony way back in 2002.
At the ceremony in question, Crowe was awarded the Best Actor gong for his role in A Beautiful Mind, but he famously kicked up a fuss afterwards when his acceptance speech, which included a recital of the Patrick Kavanagh poem, Sanctity, was cut short in the BBC broadcast.
On the Late Late Show last night, Crowe told Ryan Tubridy how he was inspired to read the poem in the first place after it was recited by the late Richard Harris – who starred alongside Crowe in Gladiator – at a dinner party attended by more A-listers than you could shake a stick at.
In the video below, Crowe explains the circumstances behind what was, in his own words, “a gigantic story at the time” due to a confrontation between Crowe and BBC producer Malcolm Gerrie that took place afterwards.
Clip via The Late Late Show
The decision to cut the poem was not the only source of Crowe’s frustration; he was also upset at his own delivery of the speech and the exclusion from the footage of a tribute to John Nash, the mathematician upon whose life A Beautiful Mind was based.
Crowe subsequently called Gerrie to apologise for the incident.
Despite Crowe’s claims that he was told that Kavanagh was not supposed to be read on the BBC, however, it was claimed at the time that Crowe’s speech was cut short in the BBC broadcast for time reasons.
What’s more, the producer responsible for editing the footage, Melanie Smith, is actually a relative of Patrick Kavanagh’s, who explained to The Times after the incident that her relatives expressed their displeasure with the decision to edit the footage to her mother when she visited Ireland shortly afterwards.
"The initial decision to cut the poem was mine. I have no regrets at all," Smith said.
"Russell Crowe read it out extremely slowly. I was shocked when I found out it was actually only four lines long. And he stumbled in the delivery."
"My mother went over (to visit relatives in Ireland) for the week and apparently all my family were outraged when they found out I had something to do with it," she added.
"I knew we had a couple of poets in the family but I had no idea who they were until after the event."