In the second programme, we learn more about Dahl the man. His imagination wasnít limited to his stories Ė he used it to solve problems and invent things such as the shoe stretcher shown in the programme. Dahlís plots with all their twists and turns spring from his fascination with the world around him. He saw all plots as problem-solving opportunities.
Most of Dahlís books originated as bedtime stories for his own children. Dahl regarded childhood as precious and magical, and through his stories he indulged himself and his children in fantastical journeys drawn from reality. He surrounded himself with artefacts that reminded him of important things in his life, or in some way amused or fascinated him. Dahl said, ĎFor a writer, where you live and the things that you find around you are an excellent source of ideasí.
Dahl not only drew on his memories of childhood for his autobiographies,Boy and Going Solo, but also used them to empathise with his characters. Dahl himself was beaten by schoolmasters such as Captain Hardcastle, who is personified as the baddy, Captain Lancaster, in Danny, Champion of the World.
Like most writers, Dahl considered a good plot to be the most important element of a story. He found it difficult to remember all of the ideas that came to him, so kept lots of exercise books in which he wrote them down. These were supplemented with lists of interesting facts, and with cut out pictures of people he found interesting.