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Alun Owen (24 November 1925 – 6 December 1994) was a British screenwriter, predominantly active in television, but best remembered by a wider audience for writing the screenplay of The Beatles' debut feature film A Hard Day's Night (1964).
24 November 1925|
|Died||6 December 1994
|Occupation||Screenwriter and television actor.|
|Genre||Comedy, drama, adventure|
Owen was born in the English city of Liverpool. His family on his father's side originated from North Wales. He attended St Michael's Primary School and Oulton High School. For two years during the Second World War, Owen worked down a coal mine as a 'Bevin Boy', before moving into repertory theatre as an assistant stage manager. From there he moved into acting, first with the Birmingham Repertory Company and then various other companies, appearing in small roles in films and to a greater degree in the newer medium of television during the 1950s.
By the late 1950s, however, Owen was beginning to realise that his real ambitions lay in writing rather than performing, and he began to submit scripts to BBC Radio. His first full-length play, Progress to the Park, was produced by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East following its radio debut, and later in the West End. A second play, titled The Rough and Ready Lot, received its stage debut on 1 June 1959 in a production by the 59 Theatre Company at the Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith directed by Caspar Wrede and with a cast including Ronald Harwood, June Brown, Jack MacGowran, Patrick Allen, and Alan Dobie. It was adapted for television by Charles Lawrence and broadcast by the BBC in September 1959 with the original cast, having previously been heard on the Third Programme.
His next play was his first to be written directly for television. Titled No Trams to Lime Street (1959), the Liverpool-set piece was presented in ABC Television's Armchair Theatre anthology strand, for which Owen continued to write plays into the 1960s. He also made his feature film scriptwriting debut in 1960, penning The Criminal from a storyline originally by Jimmy Sangster.
In 1964, when director Richard Lester was hired to direct The Beatles' first film, he remembered Owen from their previous work together on Lester's ITV television programme The Dick Lester Show in 1955. The Beatles were also keen on Owen, having been impressed with his depiction of Liverpool in No Trams to Lime Street, and Owen spent some time associating with the four band members to gain an ear for their characters and manners of speech. His resulting script for A Hard Day's Night earned him a nomination for the 1965 Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay. In the same year, Owen contributed the libretto for a West End musical, composer Lionel Bart's Maggie May. The show ran for a respectable 501 performances at London's Adelphi Theatre.
Television continued to be his main medium, however, and he concentrated on single plays in anthology series such as BBC2's Theatre 625. An episode of ITV's Saturday Night Theatre, three linked plays under the title "The Male of the Species" (1969) featured Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Paul Scofield and, introducing each story, Laurence Olivier. His 1974 play Lucky was a rare television representation of Britain's new multicultural reality and described a young black man's (Paul Barber), search for identity. He carried on writing for television through the 1970s and 80s, with his final produced work being an adaptation of R. F. Delderfield's novel Come Home, Charlie, and Face Them for ITV in 1990.
He died in London in 1994 at the age of 69.
A festival was held in his honour from 19 October–21 October 2006 in Liverpool, arranged by the Merseyside Welsh Heritage Society. A lecture in English on Owen and the Liverpool Welsh was delivered by Dr D. Ben Rees, Chairman of the Society, and in Welsh by Dr Arthur Thomas of University of Liverpool on his life and work. These lectures were published in book form in 2007.
|The Rough and Ready Lot||
||Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith; BBC1|
|BBC Sunday-Night Play||
|You Can't Win 'Em All||
|A Hard Day's Night||
|A Local Boy||
|The Ronnie Barker Playhouse||
|Half Hour Story||
|For Amusement Only||
|The Company of Five||
|Male of the Species||
|Hark at Barker||
|Plays of Today||
|The Wednesday Play||
|ITV Sunday Night Theatre||
|The Ten Commandments||
|Play for Today||
|ITV Sunday Night Drama||
|Once Upon a Time||
|Forget Me Not||
|Do You Remember?||
|The Play on One||
|Come Home, Charlie, and Face Them||
Awards and nominationsEdit
|1962||Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award||Armchair Theatre: "The Rose Affair"||Best Original Teleplay||Won|
|1965||Academy Award||A Hard Day's Night||Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen||Nominated|
- Owen, Alun (1960). The Rough and Ready Lot: A play in Three Acts. Cover design by Elisabeth Frink (First ed.). London: Encore Publishing Co. Ltd. p. 4.
- "The Rough and Ready Lot", Radio Times, London (1871), p. 19, 18 September 1959, retrieved 6 April 2016
- "Television Writers Award in 1961". BAFTA. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "Television Scriptwriter in 1961". BAFTA. Retrieved 6 April 2016.