September 16, 2009

HE REALLY OUGHT TO BE BURIED IN A MINI:

Italian Job screenwriter Troy Kennedy Martin dies aged 77 (Jason Deans, 9/16/09, The Guardian)

In the early 1960s he created the long-running BBC drama Z-Cars, which broke new ground in the degree of realism it brought to the depiction of a northern police force at work.

Kennedy Martin moved into film writing with The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine, in 1967 and then Kelly's Heroes, a second world war action comedy featuring Clint Eastwood.

His later TV work included Reilly - Ace of Spies, for ITV; and Edge of Darkness, the critically lauded 1985 BBC thriller starring Bob Peck as a policeman who becomes embroiled in an international conspiracy to convert nuclear waste into plutonium.


Troy Kennedy Martin: scriptwriter of Z-Cars and The Italian Job (Times of London, 9/16/09)
Troy Kennedy Martin was responsible in large part for two pieces of television which have become classics. In the early 1960s he had a central role in the creation of Z-Cars, which challenged the traditionally cosy notion of the police series, while in the 1980s his nuclear thriller, Edge of Darkness, was a nightmarish warning about the dangers of ecological disaster. [...]

The credit for thinking up the idea for Z-Cars, a police series set in the north and based on patrol cars, is disputed. Elwyn Jones, from the BBC drama department, had already worked with the police in Lancashire and was keen to set a fictional series there. Kennedy Martin claimed to have had the idea while recovering from mumps and listening to police patrols on VHF radio.

Whatever the origins of the project, Kennedy Martin did more than anyone else to develop it and give it shape. He visited Lancashire more than once, went out with the police and observed the often difficult relations between the force and the community, particularly in working-class areas. The Z-Cars format was his, he held the copyright and he was paid a fee for every episode.

He wrote the first episode, which went out in January 1962, when he was not yet 30. It immediately signalled a new departure for police TV series, introducing a degree of realism never before seen. The police were seen as fallible, smoking and gambling while on duty and being violent towards their wives, He wrote several more of the early scripts and supervised others. But while the series was critcially acclaimed, and drew large audiences, Kennedy Martin soon became disillusioned and left. He felt that Z-Cars had moved away from his original intention of using the police as a device to explore people’s lives.


Posted by Orrin Judd at September 16, 2009 7:40 AM
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