Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Troy Kennedy Martin 1932 – 2009

Troy Kennedy Martin, one of the most influential British screenwriters of all time, has died at the age of 77.

He co-created (with Allan Prior) the classic police series Z-Cars in 1962 and wrote The Italian Job for the big screen. Other credits in a varied writing career included TV series Edge Of Darkness and feature film Red Heat (with Harry Kleiner & Walter Hill).

Obituaries and tributes to follow.

Update: Troy Kennedy Martin was a long-standing member of the Guild and, from 1980, Chair of the Guild's Censorship Committee.

In 1963, at the Writers’ Guild Awards, he was joint winner (with Allan Prior and John Hopkins) of the award for Best British Dramatic Series/Serial Scripts – for Z-Cars.

Update (16/09/2009): Articles in The Guardian and Netribution, and an obituary in The Times.
He wrote the first episode [of Z-Cars], 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 critcally 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.

From The Telegraph:
Kennedy Martin's next large-scale series for the BBC [more than 20 years after Z-Cars] – hailed by Sean Day-Lewis in The Daily Telegraph as a masterpiece – was Edge of Darkness. Frustrated that "at the BBC there was no political dimension to drama whatsoever", Kennedy Martin fashioned the original eco-thriller, starring Bob Peck as a Yorkshire detective searching for the killer of his beautiful daughter (Joanne Whalley), who had been shot dead in front of him in the opening episode.

With the detective becoming drawn into the murky worlds of nuclear power and secret intelligence, Kennedy Martin skilfully captured pre-détente fears about nuclear warfare. He infused his script with a dark, Gothic feel which The Sunday Telegraph critic John Preston acclaimed as "the most gripping thing I've ever seen on television". It won three Baftas.
Bob Peck in Edge Of Darkness

And an obituary in The Guardian:
"Very often he wrote 'spec' – uncommissioned – scripts," recalls his agent, Elaine Steel. "With Edge of Darkness, the BBC didn't know what they were getting. It started out as a thing about the Knights Templar. When he was talking to aspiring film writers, he would say that you shouldn't write to a formula. You should start writing where you felt like writing, and that might mean starting in the middle of the script, as he sometimes did."


  1. An innovative and talented writer to whom UK TV drama owes a great debt.

  2. and wrote The Italian Job (with Donna Powers &Wayne Powers) for the big screen.


    Donna and Wayne Powers wrote the 2003 remake of The Italian Job based on 1969 original written by TKM.

  3. Thanks - post corrected.

  4. Anonymous10:22 pm

    I knew him well. He was a lovely man, as well as being talented. And he wore his talent lightly. That's a rare thing.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.