TV preview: The Marvellous World Of Roald Dahl

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Fighter pilot, inventor, spy… the life of Roald Dahl is often stranger than fiction.

From crashing his plane over Africa to hobnobbing in Hollywood and his remarkable encounters with everyone from Walt Disney to President Roosevelt, this is the story of his greatest adventures and how they found expression in his most famous books – from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory to Matilda.

Through a vast collection of his letters, writings and archive, the story is told largely in his own words, voiced by Robert Lindsay, with contributions from his last wife Liccy, daughter Lucy and biographer Donald Sturrock.

Long-term collaborator and illustrator Quentin Blake also creates exclusive new drawings for the film which are specially animated to bring Dahl’s marvellous world to life.

“He was able to walk a very fine line between tragedy and humour,” said Lucy. “He used to say, ‘If you tell a child a story about a man walking down the street and he steps on a banana and slips, they will roar with laughter. But the minute they realise he’s actually broken his back, they stop laughing and it’s not funny any more.”

The Marvellous World Of Roald Dahl, BBC1, Saturday, 9pm.