Clive James hanging in for Game of Thrones

JULIAN DRAPE
Last updated 12:11 01/06/2014
Clive James

POET: Clive James believes his weekend appearance on stage in London could be his last.

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A dying Clive James has revealed his love of the hit TV show Game of Thrones and joked that it's his ambition to live long enough to see the current season released on DVD.

The Australian also admitted it was "inevitable" he'd be better remembered for his work on TV rather than for his poetry.

The writer, TV presenter and critic - who has advanced leukaemia and emphysema - appeared on stage in London at the inaugural Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts.

James told a packed theatre of 400 fans he'd previously believed "it's vital to have nothing to do with any art form which has dragons in it".

But that changed when his family encouraged him to watch Game of Thrones.

"You do have to see it because it has this wonderful, primitive appeal, this extraordinary, complex, simplicity, by which you are taken back to the raw stuff of life and shown - made to live - how intricate it is, the connections of family and ambition," the 74-year-old said.

The intellectual joked that Thrones also dealt with "the place of the dwarf in modern society".

James watches the hit series on DVD rather than TV so is yet to see the fourth season.

"One of my ambitions, at this age and in this condition, short of breath and perhaps not long for this world, is to live until box four of Game of Thrones.

"It's good to have target in life."

The Sydney-born poet said one of the downsides of the show, however, was "the drawback of life itself".

"People on the show that you have tremendous affection for can suddenly be moved," he noted.

"You can have a one-man massacre in Game of Thrones."

James's epic translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy was published in 2013.

He said the first part, Inferno, was more like Game of Thrones than anything else.

"It's full of wild action," the writer said.

"It's got three-headed dogs, rivers of blood, centaurs ... and this flying dragon you can ride on."

James was subsequently asked to reflect on his role as Robert the postman in Neighbours almost 20-years-ago.

"It's the biggest audience I've ever reached," he replied.

"Neighbours left Game of Thrones in the dust."

The one-time actor joked the Aussie soap opera was based on the tension and thrill of whether Kylie Minogue, having borrowed a lawnmower, would remember to return it.

Then, becoming serious, he noted that producer Reg Grundy realised the red-brick bungalow on a quarter-acre grassed block wasn't the cliche the progressive intelligentsia thought it was.

Rather, James said, it was what everybody in the world wanted.

He went on to describe Australia as a "dreamland" that he was "blessed" to have grown up in during the mid-20th century.

Finally, James was asked by an audience member if he regretted that he'd be remembered more for his television shows and reviews than his poetry.

That, he replied, was always inevitable because TV was the "mass medium" while poetry was a "minority thing".

"(But) television paid for the groceries," he said.

"It kept my family going. As a poet I would have starved."

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- AAP

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