Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Obituary: Reg Gadney – ‘natural and adaptable screenwriter’ who won a BAFTA for TV series Kennedy

Reg Gadney Reg Gadney

With a career in the military, the diplomatic service, as deputy controller of the National Film Theatre and as a novelist behind him, Reg Gadney came to writing for television relatively late, only turning full-time in 1984 at the age of 43.

The year before he had won a BAFTA for Kennedy, his seven-part portrait of the US president starring Martin Sheen, broadcast to mark the 20th anniversary of his assassination in 1963.

By then, he was an established figure in art education, lecturing internationally and a senior tutor at the Royal College of Art (where he was later appointed a fellow and prorector).

A natural and adaptable screenwriter, he was able to turn his hand to the historical dramas Prince Regent and Penmarric (both 1979) and to adaptations of literary and popular fiction, notably Iris Murdoch’s The Bell (1982) and Minette Walters’ The Sculptress (1996).

Gadney’s original work included the four-part post-war drama Forgive Our Foolish Ways (1980), Goldeneye, a dramatised biography of James Bond creator Ian Fleming starring Charles Dance (1989) and Diana: The Final Journey, an account of events leading to the former Princess of Wales’ death (2007).

Gadney’s writing career had begun with the publication of his first novel, a thriller, in 1970.

He went on to write a further 10 novels earning him the approbation of the New York Times, who hailed him as “the master of tight-moving narrative and prose”.

Reginald Bernard John Gadney was born in Cross Hills, Yorkshire on January 20, 1941, the son of teacher and one-time England rugby captain Bernard Gadney and a watercolour-painter mother. He also produced a biography of John F Kennedy and the historical study Cry Hungary: Uprising, 1956.

He died on May 1, aged 77 and is survived by two children from his first marriage, his second wife (the restaurant critic Fay Maschler) and three stepchildren.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.