Papers of Alan Plater



Admin History:

Alan Frederick Plater was born in Jarrow in April 1935, the son of Herbert and Isabella Plater. He grew up in the Hull area, and was educated at Pickering Road Junior School and Kingston High School, Hull. He then studied architecture at King's College, Newcastle upon Tyne, becoming an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1959 (since lapsed). He worked for a short time in the profession, before becoming a full-time writer in 1960. His subsequent career has been extremely wide-ranging and remarkably successful, both in terms of his own original work, and his adaptations of literary works. He has written extensively for radio, television, films and the theatre, and for the daily and weekly press, including The Guardian, Punch, Listener, and New Statesman. His writing credits exceed 250 in number, and include:

- Theatre: 'A Smashing Day'; 'Close the Coalhouse Door'; 'Trinity Tales'; 'The Fosdyke Saga'

- Film: 'The Virgin and the Gypsy'; 'It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet'; 'Priest of Love'

- Television: 'Z Cars'; 'The Beiderbecke Affair'; 'Barchester Chronicles'; 'The Fortunes of War'; 'A Very British Coup'; and, 'Campion'

- Radio: 'Ted's Cathedral'; 'Tolpuddle'; 'The Journal of Vasilije Bogdanovic'

- Books: 'The Beiderbecke Trilogy'; 'Misterioso'; 'Doggin' Around'

He received numerous awards, most notably the BAFTA Writer's Award in 1988. He was made an Honorary D.Litt. of the University of Hull in 1985, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1985. He was President of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain between 1991 and 1995. He married, firstly, Shirley Johnson (2 sons and 1 daughter - marriage dissolved 1985), and then lived in London with his second wife, Shirley Rubinstein, whom he married in 1986. He was appointed CBE in 2005. Although diagnosed with cancer in 2007, Plater continued to work. His final television drama, Joe Maddison's War, was in post-production when he died on 25 June 2010.


The archive represents an almost complete record of Alan Plater's working life. The most important section of the archive comprises files of draft and final scripts, story lines, plot schedules and other working papers relating to Plater's work for radio, theatre, television (both original plays and series and series contributions, dramatisations and adaptations), film and print. This includes papers relating to projects rejected or abandoned, some of which are still unpublished and/or unperformed.

Other material relating to Plater's working life, includes notebooks, works sent to Plater by other writers, professional correspondence relating to work and contracts, press cuttings, videos and audio tapes (of works by Plater or interviews of him), theatre programmes and production memorabilia, stills and on-set production photographs, and papers relating to the Writers' Guild and to Plater's architectural work.

The personal papers contained in the collection include family correspondence (some subject to access restrictions), photographs, juvenilia, membership cards, cartoons by Alan Plater, and a copy of the order of service for Alan Plater's memorial service.