"Breaking the Mould", BBC4's docudrama on the role Howard Florey's Oxford University team played in the
Public discovery of Penicillin , does the impossible.
Publicly at least, Alexander Fleming was a the very model of a modern modest man.
Howard Florey, was always described, by his oldest and closest friends, as witheringly blunt and relentlessly ambitious.
Yet this take on Florey successfully convinced the vast majority of the many British journalists viewing the film that their parents' hero Fleming had feet of giant clay and that somehow generations of earlier Britons had overlooked the sterling modesty of Dr Florey.
If any of these journalists had consulted any one of the many biographies of either Fleming or Florey they would have seen a more complex and much more interesting story.
Simply put, there is much to strongly dislike and much to greatly admire in the character and actions of both men.
In terms that fiction writers and readers will understand, they would both be very much three dimensional characters, well rounded; always capable of surprising the reader.
Cardboard - even when well acted - is no substitute for the
multi layered complexity of real life...
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