My background for the
idea, in particular
Her Penicillin crimes
Her Penicillin crimes
is a novel of scientific espionage, dealing with a maverick
woman's struggle to find believers for the new drug penicillin.
It is set against a background of scientific difficulty,
commercial chicanery and Anglo-American rivalries. It explores a
complex situation in which the USA wanted to take over the
essentially British work on the drug/mould only for no
investment to come forward and the work get mired in patent
issues and inter-departmental secrecy. At the narrative's heart
is the complex figure of Nathalie Armstrong, beauty, biochemist
and jilted wife. Her narrative in this and its companion
Her Thirty Million
are told through the eyes the grand daughter who discovers the
work and whose own relation to her grandmother is complex. The
companion novels are set 1938-1945 and 2016-2018.
Some Background: J.Frank
(Francis) Gladstone -- film maker,
writer, a non-scientist with an interest in science & its
By mail: West End, Hawarden, Flintshire,
CH5 3NZ -- North Wales, UK.
UK phone: 079-4133-9122 Land line 01244-537267.
Born 1941. Married first to Janet Schumacher
Married since 1972 to Josephine Elwyn Jones.
With Jo Elwyn Jones I have an
interest in reviving the fabric designs of my mother, Isla Gladstone
(1905-87). This has been a project of the last two decades.
Frank Gladstone has a
degree in history and was trained for a short and concentrated
time at New York University film workshop in 1965.
He continued training in film craft with the wildlife &
ex-Everest cameraman and director Tom Stobart, then in the BBC
film department, notably at Ealing film studios.
Ealing had much of
the ethos and the craft standards of the actual film studio it
had been. These, 1965-67 were days when film was relatively new
to British television.
The new 16mm format and new color stock developed by Kodak for
tv transmission drove an expansion of documentaries of which I
was lucky to be part.
War From the
Above, centre, filming peregrine falcons for Horizon, 1966, at
the time pesticides almost made them extinct
ROBERT REID & HORIZON
Robert Reid was a chemist who
had also been an army officer with experience in broadcasting. I think
it is fair to say that, until his time, science broadcasting had been
somewhat stodgy, confined to articulate scientists talking about their
work in a way that belied popularization, not a real word, I know.
Traditionally scientists, notably British scientists, disdained the
popularization of ideas they deemed generally too difficult for public
Robert, or 'Bob' Reid broke this tradition by looking not so much at
science itself as at its human consequences, notably in medicine, to a
degree when I was on Horizon as a junior producer in environmental
I worked as a sound editor, assistant editor, production
assistant and then producer which, in documentary film making,
included being a director and writer.
They were great days.
From a 2018 perspective I view with regret the discipline
imposed by the cost of film stock, the relative immobility of
cameras and the craft of larger, union based crews.
a reflection for something important and lost -- an era in
documentary making where budgets were much higher and outlets
narrower and therefore more concentrated.
Michael Ambrosino and NOVA:
Michael Ambrosino developed and managed to obtain funds for a series
dealing with science and science issues that was cloned from Horizon,
although with American differences. It relied on a creative synergy
between Michael Ambrosino and Bob Reid who had, by now, left the BBC
science department. The series title chosen was Nova and it has remained
in production through various changes of character over 44 years, 1974
I was lucky or
privileged -- Michael was foolish enough to employ me -- to be one of
the first Nova producers.
The series started with a strong 'journalistic' ethos. It examine the
light, or bright side of science &, like Horizon, it examined the
consequences of science, engineering and medicine.
The author --
Above with my father 1947, aged 6 & 60 -- Right, above Elwyn
Gladstone, Matthew Peregrine-Jones, myself, Charlotte Greggains,
walking 60 miles in one day (time of my 60th birthday) along the
Thames to raise money for Combat Stress. (My father Charles
Gladstone had been imprisoned in World War I.) Right: fallen over -- with a broken finger
and smiling, hiking
in the Pyrenees.
Among My Films For
Something For Our Children (with Michael Andrews)
Conservation in the UK at the time of depletion of birds of prey
What Kind of Doctor? (with Brian Gibson)
lack of emphasis on general practice & preventative medicine in
a London Hospital.
One Liverpool or Two damage to urban
environments by 'scientific' and quantitatively based urban
Do You Remember the Memory Man science &
phenomena of memory.
What's So Big About Us? attitudes 'good' &
'bad' to Pygmy populations in West Africa, leaning strongly on
the work of the anthropologist Colin Turnbull.
The Shape of Life how genetic messages
determine the shape & beauty of life, leaning strongly on the
work of developmental biologist Louis Wolpert.
Among My Films For
Public Television's Nova 1973-1979
Strange Sleep dramatized account of the
discoveries of anesthesia from ether to cocaine & and the self
harm that happened to the doctors who discovered them. Using
real doctors as actors and the 'ether dome' in the Mass General
in Boston as it was when first used.
War From the Air historical film about the
theory (that it would transform war) and reality (that it tended
to strengthen morale) of bombing from the air. With remarkable
footage for which I thank Elsa Rassbach & Patrick Griffin - film
from Walk Disney, Viet Cong sources, etc. Narrated by Richard
The Woman Rebel dramatized
the life of
American feminist & birth control pioneer, Margaret Sanger, with
Piper Laurie & Paul Guilfoyle.
Hitler's Secret Weapon how Germany
exploited the loophole in the Versailles treaty of 1919 to
develop rockets as weapons of war, based on the film archive
captured by the US in 1945 along with the German rockets which
then made nuclear missiles possible. Interviews with Werner von
Braun and others, now US citizens, full of (at that time)
previously unseen film, possibly soft on the use of slave labor
to construct the rockets. Made with the late Patrick Griffin.
What Price Coal? Made when Jimmy Carter
proposed coal burning as the solution to the Middle East oil
crisis. A polemical attack on negligence for health (black lung)
and safety in deep mines, environmental dereliction in the
stripping of West Virginia mountain tops and the abuse of
Cheyenne Indian rights in the west. Controversial and nearly
pulled from showing, actually pulled in some places, led to Nova
loosing Exxon funding. Now considered by Peter McGhee, ex head
of programming WGBH, as a milestone in independent broadcasting.
The Road to Happiness based on the
extensive film archive collected by Henry Ford to record his
industrial and social empire. Both fun and ironical, see the
title. The rise and rise of the automobile, the rise and fall of
harmonious industrial relations -- the rise and fall and
recovery of the Ford dynasty as dominant. Made with the late
Across the Silence Barrier -- an
exploration of the importance to the deaf of sign language.
Where to... Science
Are we dealing enough with how science drives the economy? With
how the purpose of the economy is economic growth on growth? With the
extent to which such growth is counterproductive to other
Should humans always come first?
Cure for cancer or cure for species depletion?
Hard question, yes. Except that it is already asked as societies
determine budgets for medical research and budgets for
from an interest in the science history question: why, if the
British (Fleming, Florey & Chain) won the first post war Nobel
Prize for Penicillin did the US charge royalties on most
penicillin then sold in Britain?
I found something of an answer. I also found that the people
concerned in the delivery of penicillin had disappeared into the
mists of history and that what remained was a cache of recently
(only 1997) declassified documents.
With an interest in women in science and espionage whom history
has not been kind to and having an Anglo-American background (UK
born and now resident/ US citizen), I took the steps to
ficitonalize this in a way that I hope makes for popular
(Francis) Gladstone -- books published:
The Politics of Planning-- monograph
published for Temple Smith 1977. An examination of the use of
false science in British urban planning (or anti-urban) in the
road and 'redevelopment' schemes of the 1960s & 1970s.
The Cricketer's Guide
to Baseball -- done as
a bet, a brief monograph on Anglo-American differences as
exemplified in the two games -- published by Kingswood Press,
imprint of Heinemann, & sold its modest print run.
The Red King's Dream, published by
Jonathan Cape 1995 -- a proposal that real Victorians are
in the Alice books, the scientist Huxley as the Ugly Duchess
etc, the King of Hearts Alice's own (pompous) father. The book
was savagely attacked by critics who view the Alice books as
fantasy. The real people idea is now widely regarded by Alice
scholars, the book sold well as did cards & prints we made of
its diverse characters, the Hatter, Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit &
books were co-authored by Josephine Elwyn Jones
Its success was followed by
an invitation from Carroll's own publishers as a volume for the
centennial his death:
The Alice Companion published by Macmillan & NY University Press, 1998.
Sky, Ocean & Human Development
is an idea that
emerged from the first Nathalie Armstrong/dark side of
Francine Smithson had protested against the excess of
antibiotics in the California water system -- this being offset
against the dramatic struggle to get penicillin accepted at all
in World War II. Francine's worry is that when penicillin was
first discovered world population was 2.5 billion and now it is
The worry is that -- a worry, not a polemical pronouncement. It
led her counterpart in the book, the war and now environmental
journalist to worry about whether we have the intellectual
mechanism for analyzing these vast changes in the way the earth
is treated and populated.
The two ideas are: 1)
delving into the underbelly and hows and whys of a great
scientific development and 2)a concern about how fast these
ideas move -- seventy years only since there were no
They do not entirely mesh -- one is history, the other is to do
with the ethics of how we see development. Yet, I would like to
justify, through the people concerned in these books they do so.
Hence the umbrella idea.
as my character,
Spy Nielsen, sees it, is a way of looking at our planet.
On one side all human progress and development leads to a
benign environment, harmony with nature.
On the other side such progress and development lead to
degradation of the environment, over-population and pollution of
earth, sky and water.
Spy Nielsen's idea.
It is gradually being worked out in
between himself, me and Francine Smithson.
In Praise of
Human Settlement -- New Jersey turnpike west of New York City,