Troy Kennedy Martin

Troy Kennedy Martin (born 1932; sometimes credited as Troy Kennedy-Martin) is a British film and television scripwriter. His best known work in the cinema is the screenplay for the original version of The Italian Job, and in television he was responsible for creating the long-running BBC police series Z-Cars and writing the highly-regarded 1985 drama serial Edge of Darkness.

He began writing for BBC Television in 1958, penning the play Incident at Echo Six, and he wrote four further plays for the Corporation over the following three years, before in 1961 creating his first series, Storyboard. Storyboard was a six-part anthology series which consisted both of original Kennedy Martin scripts and adaptations. The same year, he wrote the police drama The Interrogator.

It was the genre of crime and policing which gave rise to his next and probably most famous television work, the drama series Z-Cars, which he created in 1962. Set in a fictional Northern town, Z-Cars was revolutionary in that it depicted a hard-edged, grittier and much more realistic vision of the police force than had ever been seen on British television before - as a result, it was initially very unpopular with the real police. Although Kennedy Martin left the programme after the two series, it went on to have a terrifically long life, eventually running until 1978.

Over the following decade he contributed to various television programmes, and also made his first foray into the world of feature films when he wrote The Italian Job, which was released in 1969 and starred Noel Coward and Michael Caine. The following year he wrote another film, Kelly's Heroes, and he scripted two more films during the 1970s - The Jerusalem File (1971) and Sweeney 2 (1978)

Sweeney 2 was the second cinematic spin-off from the television series The Sweeney, which had been created by Kennedy Martin's brother Ian Kennedy Martin, and for which he had written several episodes. This was a return to his police drama roots, albeit in a more action/adventure vein rather than the attempted social realism of early Z-Cars.

In the early 1980s Kennedy Martin was no less successful, with two highly popular series on different networks in the same year, 1983. One, The Old Men at the Zoo, was an adaptation of the novel by Angus Wilson and screened on BBC ONE. The second was the hugely popular Reilly, Ace of Spies on ITV, a series of his own creation starring Sam Neill.

In 1978, Kennedy Martin had drafted a script for a political thriller-cum-science fiction drama serial called Magnox. The script attracted little interest from television executives until incoming BBC Head of Drama Series & Serials Jonathan Powell picked it up in 1982, assigning experienced producer Michael Wearing to the project.

The resultant serial, retitled Edge of Darkness, was eventually screened on BBC TWO in late 1985. Although Kennedy Martin experienced many creative differences with director Martin Campbell and star Bob Peck (who is reported to have vetoed the scripted ending with the remark "I'm not turning into a f**king tree!"), the drama was a resounding success, picking up several awards and being remembered by many as possibly the greatest television drama of the 1980s.

After Edge of Darkness, he wrote another feature film screenplay, Red Heat (1988, co-written with director Walter Hill), which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi.

He did not return to television scriptwriting until he penned the one-off BBC TWO drama Hostile Waters in 1997. Other recent work has included the adaptation of Bravo Two Zero for BBC ONE in 1999, co-written with the book's author Andy McNab and starring Sean Bean.


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