Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tributes Pour in for Outstanding Talent; Popular and Prolific Writer Alan Plater Dies, Aged 75

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tributes Pour in for Outstanding Talent; Popular and Prolific Writer Alan Plater Dies, Aged 75

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone

TRIBUTES have been paid to Alan Plater, the popular and prolific writer whose death from cancer, at the age of 75, was announced yesterday.

He grew up in Hull but was born in Jarrow and studied architecture at Newcastle University before his talent for writing took him off to the worlds of television, theatre and film.

His life was inextricably linked with the North East, where many of his plays were performed, and he had a great affection for the region and its people.

His career took off as a scriptwriter on the BBC's Z-Cars, the ground-breaking 1960s police drama, but he also had success on ITV with Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt!, The Beiderbecke Trilogy and Flambards.

He also adapted A Very British Coup, the novel by former Sunderland MP Chris Mullin, for television. It was shown on Channel 4 in 1988 and won Bafta and Emmy awards.

On stage he wrote the musical Close The Coal House Door, about pit closures, based on stories by Sid Chaplin. Premiered at Newcastle Playhouse in 1968, it broke box office records and transferred to London's West End.

Other plays performed in the North East include Going Home, a success in 1990 at the Playhouse, Shooting The Legend, at the Theatre Royal in 1995, and Charlie's Trousers, an affectionate skit on modern art, at Live Theatre in 2004.

He never lost his touch and last year his latest stage show, a jazz musical called Looking For Buddy, came to Newcastle on a national tour with Tim Healy heading the cast.

Tim, who also starred in Going Home, said yesterday: "Some of my best theatre parts were written for me by Alan. He'll be a big miss in my life and for millions of others. He was a great friend as well as someone to work with and look up to."

One of Alan Plater's very last pieces of writing was the TV film Joe Maddison's War, set in 1939 and filmed in the North East. Starring Robson Green and Kevin Whately, it is an eagerly-awaited highlight of ITV's autumn schedule.

Robson said yesterday: "I had the honour to work alongside Alan Plater many times during my career although I never saw it as work. I was proud to be associated with such an outstanding talent.

"He was, in the real sense of the word, an artist. His understanding and vision were so powerful that it enhanced our experience of reality."

A statement from Live Theatre said the news of Alan Plater's "untimely" death had been greeted "with enormous sadness".

It went on: "Live Theatre was privileged to have had a long and fruitful association with Alan, who wrote many plays for the company.

"He was a true and valued friend to the company, an enthusiastic supporter and a tireless champion of its work."

Alan is survived by his second wife, Shirley Rubinstein.

His daughter, Janet, a theatrical agent, lives on Tyneside with husband Max Roberts, artistic director of Live Theatre, and their two sons. …

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