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By Humphrey Carter PALMA

IF The King's Speech, as expected, cleans up at the Oscar ceremony tonight, a good deal of the credit will go a British resident in Calvia.
Theatre and film expressario and former ex-Chairman of Bafta, Richard Price, was crucial to the development of the script.

He in fact read the first draft here in Majorca and then set about turning this story about two grumpy men sitting in a room into something bigger, something in fact bigger than the producers and director had ever expected.

But, they were lucky. In a recent interview with the Liverpool Echo, Price admitted that when the envelope containing a first draft marked King's Speech landed on Richard Price's desk, it sat unopened for more than six weeks.

When he did finally read it, the Liverpool Institute old boy recalls with amused understatement: “I thought, yes this is quite good. “So we started working on it as a stage play and we paid David Seidler, the writer, to finish it. When he did, I liked the result.” But he wasn't the only one. Producer Gareth Unwin liked it too. “He got sight of it and he said ‘this is a feature film',” remembers Richard. “So I said ‘OK, if you want I'll let you produce it as a film rather than a stage production'. Gareth and I became great friends, and off we went.” Off, in fact, to a mammoth awards haul so far numbering 21 wins and 68 nominations – with the Oscars still to come tonight.
It has, admits the 77-year-old, exceeded what began as quite modest expectations more than three years ago when he was first brought the draft by the writer's agent. “I never thought it would go the way it's gone but I am tremendously pleased that it's done so well, particularly at the BAFTAs, because I'm a former chairman of BAFTA. I was as pleased by that, I'll admit, as if it gets an Oscar because to me they're equal.” For Richard, who moved to Liverpool in the 50s, the son of the former parson at Ullet Road Unitarian Church, it is not the first time he has gambled on and won with a hunch.

More than a decade ago, he took a punt on a West End show, then in the early stages of development.
The production happened to be Mamma Mia!, now a worldwide phenomenon. “We've just launched it in France and China,” he says proudly. Tonight we will see if he has given The King's Speech the golden Oscar touch.