Everyone’s favourite Bob Dylan story is surely the one where Bob got lost on the way to Dave Stewart’s north London home, knocked on what he thought was the right door and asked if Dave was there. A Dave, as it happened, did live there, but was out. So Dave’s wife invited this rather odd looking tramp into the house to wait, ensuring that Dave, a huge fan, got the surprise of his life when he returned home to find Bob Dylan drinking tea on his sofa.
Despite his total lack of acting experience, Dylan was hired for a substantial fee, brought over to the UK and put up at one of London’s poshest hotels, The Mayfair. He was in London for three weeks.
But, come the day itself, Bob simply lost his nerve. “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” he is supposed to have burst out. “These guys are actors. I can’t act!” Saville, no doubt worried by having to explain the situation to the chap in BBC accounts, brokered a deal whereby he would employ another actor to speak the lines while Dylan himself played and sang a few songs between speeches. (Dylan would later be turfed out of the Mayfair for strumming his guitar in the corridor.)
Dylan headed back to the US and towards global stardom, the TV documentary was broadcast the following year, and the whole thing became just another thing that happened to have happened. Except for one thing. The BBC wiped the tapes.
Inevitably, given that the story is being told (Arena, BBC Four, Wednesday night), it means that some bootlegs of the Dylan’s performances on the show have been unearthed. Another Bob Dylan dream come to life.