It is with the deepest sense of loss that I write to celebrate the life of Tudor Gates, a dear friend who contributed so much to our profession, both as a playwright and screenwriter. He died in his beloved Birchington on January 11 at the age of 77.
Born on January 2, 1930, he began his career as a touring stage manager, writing plays in his spare time. When his first play, The Guv’nor, was produced on television in 1955, starring Michael Hordern and Coral Browne, he abandoned his back stage career to dedicate his life to full time writing.
The list of his prolific writing credits as playwright, screenwriter and novelist would fill volumes – he wrote over a hundred TV plays and episodes of series from The Saint to The Sweeney and script edited Vendetta for the BBC, a series that ran for three years. He progressed to the world of feature films, writing novels in between assignments. He returned to the theatre and enjoyed great box office success with his two major West End plays, Who Saw Him Die at the Haymarket and Who Killed Agatha Christie at the Ambassadors. I was privileged to produce his Confession of Murder under his own direction starring the RSC actor Don Henderson. All of these plays were staged in Australia, France, Germany, South Africa and New Zealand.
He had a prolific political career standing twice for Parliament as a Liberal candidate in his native Thanet and in the world of the arts he was president of the Association of Cinema and Television Technicians and vice president of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinema and Theatre Union. He was the former chair of the National Film Development Fund and the Joint Board for Film Industry Training.
He had close links with the world of amateur theatre. He was president of his local group in Kent for whom he wrote and directed The Dream of Geronimous Bosch, a production that won the British Drama League Award. He was commissioned by BT to write Ladies Who Lunch for their amateur BT Biennial that was given 50 simultaneous first nights across the UK and USA. He repeated the exercise two years later, writing Saving Ardley under the auspices of the World Wildlife Fund.
Among his many film credits were Barbarella starring Jane Fonda and The Optimists of Nine Elms with Peter Sellers and he was consultant on innumerable film and TV productions including Struggle for Rome, Hadrian’s War and Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.
The world of theatre, TV and film has lost one of its most prolific and multi-talented servants who loved his profession as much as so many of its members loved him.
Requiescat in pace dear Tudor, we’re going to miss you.