The creative agency for film, theatre and television.


John McGrath


Estates, Writers: Playwrights

Bornin Merseyside, 1935, of an Irish immigrant family and brought up in NorthWales. His first plays were performedwhen he was at Oxford and after THE TENT was presented at the Royal Court, Johnspent several years in television, writing and directing. He directed the first episode of Z-CARS,which ran for seventeen years.  Much ofhis writing and directing in television has been experimental and he has mademany documentaries on film and video.

Hehas written over forty stage plays, including THE CHEVIOT THE STAG AND THEBLACK BLACK OIL, FISH IN THE SEA, BAKKE’S NIGHT OF FAME, COMRADE JACOB, RANDOMHAPPENINGS IN THE HEBRIDES and EVENTS WHILE HOLDING THE BOFORS GUN.  The latter was filmed for Universal as THEBOFORS GUN with Nicol Williamson.  Healso wrote the screenplay THE RECKONING (Columbia) for Nicol Williamson and thescreenplay for Ken Russell’s film BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN (United Artists).

In1971 he founded the 7:84 Theatre Company (so called because John had read that84% of Britain’s wealth was owned by just 7% of the population), and wasinvolved in writing and directing plays with them for seventeen years. Duringthat time he also wrote and directed several plays for Today for the BBC.  Also BLOOD RED ROSES,  a three part serial for Channel Four andLorimar.

Hisstage works include BORDER WARFARE and JOHN BROWN’S BODY, both of which weresubsequently produced on television as part of a nine hour trilogy entitledTHERE IS A HAPPY LAND, presented as a popular history of Scotland.

Johnwrote the screenplay for Beryl Bainbridge’s THE DRESSMAKER (Freeway Films) withBillie Whitelaw. John re-wrote ROBIN HOOD for Twentieth Century Fox, dir JohnIrvin, 1991.

Asa producer John’s credits include CARRINGTON (Freeway Films) ChristopherHampton’s directional debut starring Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce, 1995 co-producedwith Ronnie Shedlo. LIQUID LIPS 1976, MAIRI MHOR 1993, TELL THEM JOHNNY WADD ISHERE 1975 and more recently MA VIE EN ROSE. Booksinclude  A GOOD NIGHT OUT and THE BONEWON’T BREAK (Methuen).

Johnwas awarded the BAFTA Writers Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1998 Johncreated and was the Artistic Director of the MOONSTONE FESTIVAL – AScreenwriter’s Laboratory. Johnwas working on various screenplays, including BYRON’S MARRIAGE, up until hisdeath in January 2002.