When I noticed, during an Arts Council meeting in the mid-1990s, that the birth name of the council’s new chairman, Lord Gowrie (obituary, 27 September) was Greysteil Hore-Ruthven, I decided then and there to cast him as Lord Ruthven – the first vampire in English literature – in my BBC television series Nightmare: The Birth of Horror (1996).
After all, his Scottish family tree also included a high-profile assassin of Mary Queen of Scots’ lover Rizzio and, it was said, the last witch to be publicly burned at the stake. He enthusiastically agreed and entered into the spirit of the thing – an extract from the hit play The Vampire; Or The Bride of the Isles (1820), filmed at Wilton’s music hall, assisted by some scantily clad vampiresses and accompanied by a bagpiper in full Highland rig. Gowrie’s saturnine good looks and sometimes raffish manner suited the part admirably. “I am Ruthven the vampire, and I come to claim my bride … she is mine!” he bellowed, with conviction.
As a reward for his efforts, and for being such a good sport, we gave him a length of Ruthven tartan, specially woven. His amused reaction was: “It looks like Bob Hope’s golfing trousers.”