Radio 4 listeners slam Sophie Dahl’s shed appeal

Sep 14, 2011

Why can’t multimillionaire former supermodel save Roald Dahl's writing hut with her own money, they ask

AN APPEAL by the family of Roald Dahl for £500,000 to preserve the shed in which he wrote children's books such as The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has met with uproar from fans questioning why they can't find the money themselves, given the royalties they collect from his book sales.

The author's granddaughter Sophie Dahl kicked off the appeal on BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday - Roald Dahl Day. The former supermodel compared the 1950s-built hut to a decaying tomb, saying: "It's in a bit of a state, poor little hut, it needs help. Half-a-million sounds like a lot of money to move the interior of a little hut, but it's quite a process. It's got to be done very carefully, step-by-step, almost in an archaeological way and by archivists."

In the world of Twitter, a quick reaction is assured, and Radio 4 listeners were no different yesterday. One wrote: "Have I got this wrong? The international model and TV star Sophie Dahl is asking us for money to restore a shed?"

Amelia Foster of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre appeared later in the Today programme. John Humphrys informed her of the incipient furore and asked her the question on everybody's lips: "Dahl's books have been selling in vast quantities for 50 years. Why does there need to be a public appeal to keep the shed in good order?"

Foster took the opportunity to back-pedal somewhat, saying the Dahls had never intended for individual members of the public to send them money. "The Dahl family have given significantly to this project already," she said, revealing that they had already given £250,000. "What we're not doing is going to the public and saying, 'Help! You need to give us this money.' We're going to trusts and foundations.

"We thought people would want to know what we're doing because [the shed] is a unique cultural icon."

However, listeners were unmoved. One wrote on Twitter: "Would be a really nice gesture for Sophie Dahl to stump up the £0.5m to preserve her grandfather Roald Dahl's shed in these austere times."

Meanwhile, Times columnist Janice Turner joined the feeding frenzy, writing: "Sophie Dahl could earn [the money] on a single advertising modelling job, the Big Stingy Giant."

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