Tributes have been paid to Alan Plater, scriptwriter, playwright and former President and Chair of the Writers' Guild has died at the age of 75.
It's with huge regret that we heard today of the death of Alan Plater . Guild Chair from 1986-7, President from 1991-5, Alan was a union man to his very marrow. He was also one of very top ranks of television dramatists, and a more than worthy recipient of a Guild lifetime achievement award in 2007.
He wrote the novel Misterioso, and his work for the stage included the seminal Close The Coalhouse Door and plays about the agent Peggy Ramsay, Philip Larkin, and his beloved Hull City.
But his main achievement was in television: cutting his teeth in the glory days of Z-Cars, his subsequent credits include Trinity Tales, The Stars Look Down, The Biederbecke Trilogy, and magnificent adaptations of Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, Olivia Manning's The Fortunes of War and Chris Mullin's A Very British Coup. Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggat! was a foray into sitcom, and Alan continued to move between original signature drama, adaptations and long-running series, including Dalziel and Pascoe and, most recently, Lewis. The all-rounder's all-rounder, Alan was a professional to his fingertips, encouraging to younger writers, and in the great tradition of gusty, no-nonsense, good-hearted northern writing.
In and out of the Guild, he campaigned on issues as various as the cultural boycott of South Africa and proper credits for screenwriters in the Radio Times. He was notably hostile to screenwriting gurus (the imposing of an 'act structure' on television drama particularly irked him). For all his passion, there was always a strain of self-deprecating (and Guild-deprecating) wit: when a militant group accaused the Guild of being a tool of the British government for inviting the then fugitive Salman Rushdie to a Guild awards, Alan told the BBC that he wished the Guild 'was important enough to be used as a tool'. Ever practical, he was convinced that while the Guild retained a reasonable hold on soap writers, it would remain in business as a union.
His last work is still in post-production, and he was writing an essay on his beloved Hull. Including the upcoming Joe Maddison's War, he leaves a formidable canon of work behind him, which will live on. He also leaves the redoubtable and lovely Shirley, his children and grandchildren, and his many friends and admirers in television and the theatre, in the Guild and beyond.
David Edgar is President of The Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Alan was in many ways the Father of the Guild. A writer at the very top of his profession who was also a tireless Guild activist saying: 'Divided we haven’t got a chance; united we have got a bit of a chance'. Alan kept writing to the end and never ceased to be anything less than a Guild man to his core.
Television has lost one of its greatest and most original voices and the Guild has lost one of its most powerful fighters. I know I speak for the whole Guild when I extend my deepest condolences to Alan’s partner Shirley and all his family. Alan: the Guild will always remember you.
Robert Taylor is Chair of The Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Other tributes have been paid by friends, colleagues and admirers including: