1 July 2010
Staff and students from Bournemouth University's renowned Media School are mourning the loss of one of Britain's best-loved writers, Alan Plater, who died recently at the age of 75.
Plater, a Visiting Professor at BU and a great supporter of the University, was one of Britain's most prolific, original and entertaining writers. He is famous for writing the popular TV series Z Cars, the BAFTA Award-winning A Very British Coup, the Beiderbecke trilogy and many other works. In 2005, he was awarded a CBE in recognition of his services to drama.
Over many years, Plater's eagerly anticipated master classes and guest lectures at BU drew large and enthusiastic audiences. His most recent appearance on behalf of the University came in April 2009 when he presented the annual prizes that bear his name to graduates from BU's MA in Screenwriting and BA (Hons) in Screenwriting for Film and TV.
The presentations came at the end of the University's annual Screenwriting Showcase held at London's Courtyard Theatre. Plater wished the very best of luck to the winners and "everyone else who is planning to set foot into the morass we call writing. It's a wonderful life and certainly beats having a proper job."
Stephen Jukes, Dean of BU's Media School, described Plater as a great friend of the Media School.
"He was so generous with his time for scriptwriting students and truly inspirational," Jukes continued. "Once a year - most recently even in poor health - he would attend the School's graduate screenwriting show, improvising on stage with tales of his craft. It was the highlight of the year, an improvised tour de force that left no one in doubt about his extraordinary gift as a story teller. He will be greatly missed."
John Foster, Programme Leader for the University's MA Writing for the Media and a former professional colleague, was a friend of Plater's for over 40 years.
"I am greatly saddened by the death of Alan Plater," said Foster. "I first knew him in the sixties on cop series like Z-Cars and Soft Softly. He was one of the most highly regarded writers around because he combined a deep seriousness in his writing with a laconic humour and the popular touch. He was an enormously kind man who fought for writers and supported them fiercely throughout his life.
"There was a gentle humanitarian quality to his work which comes directly from the man," Foster continued. "His great love and knowledge of jazz was central to his life and work and I think gave him a cool which enabled him never to take things too seriously and with good humour - there was always a joke to be had about most things.
"I was delighted when he became our Visiting Professor of Screenwriting and gave a stirring speech in defence of freedom for writers in his inaugural address at the University," Foster concluded. "He agreed to the creation of the 'Alan Plater Screenwriting Prize,' which he regularly bestowed upon winning students at the annual scriptwriters' Degree Show.
"Alan was inseparable from his partner, Shirley, who always accompanied him on visits to the University and the Degree Show in London, organising him and watching out for him with her wry charm. I'm sure everyone will wish to send their condolences to her."