‘Please can I see Allan on the wall?’

My father must have heard that request many times. And I remember the days when he would bring out his 9.5mm projector, load it with film, and project the edited footage of my birth and childhood on the living room wall.

But there were other days, too – even more exciting. On those days my father would also bring out his dual-turntable gramophone, and a much bigger reel would be loaded onto the projector. Those were the days when we watched one of his two favourite films – edited for the 9.5mm format – with a carefully chosen musical soundtrack.

And the films? Fritz Lang’s Metropolis – heady fare for an impressionable child – and St Joan the Maid – starring a 17-year-old girl called Simone Genevois. Who inhabited the role perfectly…

Later, my father’s 9.5mm movie camera gave way to his new passion for shooting colour transparencies – including many in stereo. Stereo slides could not, of course, be projected in stereo, but that didn’t stop him putting show after show together. And – my father being my father – they were done well. His young son took note.

My father was an accomplished amateur photographer, with a wonderful eye for an image. But he was also a journalist, a writer, someone who knew how to put a story together. As technology moved forward, he moved with it. And before long he was producing full, pre-recorded soundtracks for his slide shows, complete with voice-over, music, and sound effects. The final touch of wonder came when we acquired a second projector, and a simple mechanical device using two linked iris diaphragms that allowed us to dissolve one image into the next – often with intriguing results during the transition.

When I was 13 we went, as a family, on an ecumenical pilgrimage to the Holy Land, taking in many amazing places along the way. On our return, I documented the whole journey in a book – Jerusalem the Golden. It’s still on my shelf. But I was also inspired to create my own slide show – In Search of Christ.

The show played on the stark contrast between traditional images of Christ and his time, and the realities I had seen on the journey. (The simple fact that the supposed site of the Nativity is in a cave, for example!) For music I chose Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis. It’s a piece I still love today, as much as I love the jewel-like motet it was based on. As more people saw the show, word spread. And I was asked if I could show it to the girls at Woldingham Convent School.

I did. It was, in effect, my first professional show.

Together, my father and I went on to do much more. We wrote shows together, with increasingly elaborate soundtracks about the things we both loved. Pursuing my father’s fascination with Joan of Arc, we even created a show about her with the help of a young woman, Adrienne Bunn, who was precisely the right age to take the role of Joan.

Which meant that without really thinking about it, I was serving an apprenticeship in a skill that would later become my most powerful source of income.

I was learning to be a scriptwriter.