Brian Clark, author of Whose Life is it Anyway?, a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and a blockbuster Hollywood film – obituary


Then, one evening, an idea came to him as he went to the Stables Theater in Manchester to see a new play by Trevor Griffiths. Meeting the author in the bar, he realized the pair had corresponded during Griffiths’ day job as head of education at the BBC, and Clark was then introduced to Margaret Matheson, a BBC editor who had come to see the show.

Clark mentioned his idea and, excited by his interest, quickly wrote Whose Life Is It Anyway? It was rejected as a play for today, but was fished out of the slush in Grenada, carved out and recorded for television starring Ian McShane in the lead role of a paralyzed sculptor after a car accident and fighting for the right to end his life.

The play was a remarkable success, a direction starring Tom Conti winning an Olivier Award and, after transferring to Broadway, a Tony. Clark finished 1972 with The Debden Nativity, an improv group featuring local amateurs that showcased his skills as a teacher and as an artisan of the spontaneous. The process was captured for a Christmas edition of the ITV arts magazine Aquarius.

In addition to working occasionally on established series such as Crown Court (1972) and the opening episode of All Creatures Great and Small (1978), Clark excelled in the one-piece field. He drew on his educational experience for Campion’s Interview, originally staged at Soho Poly in 1976 and adapted for the BBC the following year, in which a saintly director takes the opportunity of an interview for a new job. to explain to the local authority, with inescapable precision, the devastating effects of their policies on the children he teaches.

The Saturday Party, a 1975 present day play in which a stockbroker loses his job, and with it his social stature, was the start of his partnership with Barkworth, Shivas and Davis, a beautifully directed play that combined the propulsion of a thriller with the light touch of a comedy of manners.

A sequel two years later, The Country Party, was even more impressive, gracefully observing the decline of the affluent middle classes through the events of an evening at a chatty rural restaurant.


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