Along with Stewart Love and Joseph Tomelty, John D. Stewart was one of the first writers from Northern Ireland to have their work produced for the ITV television network under the auspices of ABC's pioneering drama anthology series, Armchair Theatre.
The screening will be introduced by John Hill, Professor of Media at the University of London and author of ‘Cinema and Northern Ireland’.
Set on a building site in Co. Derry, the play draws on Stewart’s experiences as a civil engineer and – in line with the contemporary trend towards working-class realism deals with the clashes between bosses and workers over production methods and safety. Although shot at the Teddington Studios in Middlesex, the production provides a rare opportunity to see one of the first of a small number of television plays dealing with life in Northern Ireland in the pre-Troubles era.
In association with the AHRC-funded ‘History of Forgotten Television Drama’ project at Royal Holloway, University of London
www.royalholloway.ac.uk (The history of forgotten television drama)
Although Stewart’s first television play was Worm in the Bud (1959), set in the backstreets of Belfast, it was his second television play, Danger, Men Working (1961) for which he was best known. This was originally produced for the Festival of Britain in 1951 by Tyrone Guthrie but was subsequently reworked for radio and then television.
Despite its success, and further work for radio and theatre, Stewart’s career as a television writer failed, however, to maintain momentum and he had only one more TV play produced. This was one of Ulster Television’s first forays into drama, Boatman Do Not Tarry (1967), and dealt with a ferryman’s battle to preserve his livelihood in the face of government plans to build a bridge.
Written by John D. Stewart
Designed by Assheton Gorton
Produced by Sydney Newman
Directed by Alan Cooke
With Leo McKern (McMahon), Richard Pearson (Trumbull), Partick McAlinney (Doherty), Barry Keegan (Scanling), Mark Eden (Craig), Elisabeth Murray (Mary), Gerald McAllister (Toler)