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Troy Kennedy Martin

troy kennedy martin, troy kennedy martin wikipedia
Troy Kennedy Martin 15 February 1932 – 15 September 2009 was a Scottish-born film and television screenwriter best known for creating the long-running BBC TV police series Z-Cars, and for the award-winning 1985 anti-nuclear drama Edge of Darkness His best-known work for the cinema was the screenplay for the original version of The Italian Job


  • 1 Biography
    • 11 Early life
    • 12 1960s
    • 13 1970s
    • 14 1980s
    • 15 1990s
    • 16 Death
  • 2 Selected filmography
    • 21 Film
    • 22 Television
  • 3 References
  • 4 Further reading
  • 5 External links


Early life

He was born in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, and educated at Finchley Catholic Grammar School and Trinity College, Dublin He had a younger brother Ian, who is also a television writer best known for creating The Sweeney


He began writing for BBC Television in 1958, beginning with the play Incident at Echo Six, and he wrote four further plays for the BBC over the following three years, before in 1961 creating his first series, Storyboard, a six-part anthology series that consisted both of original scripts and adaptations The same year, he wrote the police drama The Interrogator

He wrote an important manifesto about new television drama in 1964, calling for a more mobile style of camera work and less emphasis on dialogue

It was the genre of crime and policing that gave rise to his next and probably most famous television work, the drama series Z-Cars, which he co-created in 1962 Set in "Newtown", based on Kirkby near Liverpool, Z-Cars was revolutionary in that it depicted a hard-edged, grittier and much more realistic vision of the police force than had been seen on British television – as a result, it was initially very unpopular with the real police Although he left the programme after the two series, the series ran until 1978, and he returned to write the final episode


Over the following decade he contributed to various television programmes, and made his first foray into feature films when he wrote The Italian Job, which was released in 1969 and starred Noël Coward and Michael Caine The following year he wrote Kelly's Heroes, and he scripted two more films during the 1970s – The Jerusalem File 1971 and Sweeney 2 1978

Sweeney 2 was the second cinematic spin-off from the television series The Sweeney, which had been created by his brother Ian Kennedy Martin, and for which he had written several episodes This was a return to his police drama roots, albeit in a more action/adventure vein rather than the social realism of early Z-Cars

He is perhaps less well known for writing a little-seen television sitcom based in the British Civil Service, If It Moves, File It 1970, featuring amongst others John Bird, who later co-starred in the satirical Bremner, Bird and Fortune


In the early 1980s he was no less successful, with two highly popular series on different networks in 1983 The Old Men at the Zoo was an adaptation of the novel by Angus Wilson and screened on BBC One; the second was the hugely popular Reilly, Ace of Spies on ITV, based on the book by Robin Bruce Lockhart and starring Sam Neill

Greatly influenced by the political landscape of the early 1980s, he had drafted a script for a political thriller-cum-science fiction drama serial entitled Magnox, which became Edge of Darkness He was interviewed about the genesis of the series for the Magnox: The Secrets Of Edge Of Darkness documentary, an extra on the show's 2003 DVD release:

We had the Cold War The Falklands The Nuclear State The prospect of a miners' strike Greenham Common It was Thatcher's Britain At the BBC, there was no political dimension in their popular drama whatsoever And I was really depressed about it, as indeed were other writers that I knew And so, I said to my closest colleagues: 'The only thing one can do is actually write stuff that one knows is not going to get made, but at least we'll get it out of our system' And that's how I started to write Edge Of Darkness I didn't really think that it stood much of a chance of being produced

The concept attracted little interest from television executives until incoming BBC Head of Drama Series & Serials Jonathan Powell picked it up in 1983, assigning experienced producer Michael Wearing to the project Edge of Darkness was eventually screened on BBC2 in late 1985 Although Kennedy Martin had many creative differences with director Martin Campbell and star Bob Peck who is reported to have vetoed the scripted ending with the remark "I'm not turning into a fucking tree!", the drama was a resounding success, picking up several awards and being remembered as one of the best British television drama productions of the 1980s Following Edge of Darkness he wrote another feature film screenplay, Red Heat 1988, co-written with director Walter Hill, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi


Kennedy Martin did not return to television scriptwriting until the one-off BBC2 drama Hostile Waters in 1997 Other later work included the adaptation of Bravo Two Zero for BBC1 in 1999, co-written with the book's author Andy McNab and starring Sean Bean


He died of liver cancer on 15 September 2009, aged 77, at Ditchling, East Sussex

Selected filmography


  • The Italian Job 1969
  • Kelly's Heroes 1970
  • The Jerusalem File 1972
  • Sweeney II 1978
  • Red Heat 1988
  • Red Dust 2004


  • Storyboard 1961
  • Z-Cars 1962–78
  • Redcap 1965–66
  • The Sweeney 1975–78
  • Reilly: Ace of Spies 1983
  • Edge of Darkness 1985
  • Hostile Waters 1997
  • Bravo Two Zero 1999


  1. ^ Jonathan Sale "Troy Kennedy Martin obituary | Television & radio" The Guardian Retrieved 2016-03-11 
  2. ^ Troy Kennedy Martin, "Nats go home," Encore No 48, March-April 1964
  3. ^ Lez Cooke, British Television Drama: A History, BFI 2003, Chapter 3
  4. ^ "Troy Kennedy Martin: Innovative writer who created 'Z Cars' and wrote 'Edge of Darkness' and 'The Italian Job' | Obituaries | News" The Independent Retrieved 2016-03-11 
  5. ^ "A Tribute to Troy Kennedy Martin" BAFTA 2010-07-09 Retrieved 2016-03-11 
  6. ^ Edge of Darkness, 'Introduction to the Screenplay', Faber and Faber 1989
  7. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Edge of Darkness 1985" Screenonlineorguk 1985-12-09 Retrieved 2016-03-11 

Further reading

  • Lez Cooke 2007, Troy Kennedy Martin, Manchester University Press, ISBN 0719067022

External links

  • Troy Kennedy Martin on IMDb
  • Troy Kennedy Martin biography and credits at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
  • A BAFTA Tribute to Troy Kennedy Martin, 27 April 2010
  • Obituary, The Times, 16 September 2009
  • Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 16 September 2009
  • Obituary, The Guardian, 16 September 2009
  • Obituary, The Independent, 17 September 2009

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