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Martin, Troy Kennedy (1932-2009)


Main image of Martin, Troy Kennedy (1932-2009)

Troy Kennedy Martin's first work for television was Incident at Echo Six (BBC, tx. 1958) and he delivered four further plays between 1959-61 before his first series, a six part anthology of original material and adaptations, Storyboard (BBC, 1961). He followed this with a gritty police drama, The Interrogator (BBC, 1961), which indirectly led to his next series Z Cars (BBC, 1962-78). Kennedy Martin created Z Cars as an antidote to the 'cosy-cop-on-the-corner' style TV police series, epitomised by Dixon of Dock Green (BBC, 1955-76). Z Cars was revolutionary. For the first time the police were portrayed as real human beings, complete with flaws. Prejudiced, bad-tempered, shifty and sometimes even displaying traits (such as wife-beating) more commonly associated with criminals. The police were horrified at first, but eventually came round to regard the series with some affection.

Kennedy Martin wrote Diary of A Young Man (BBC, 1964) and then contributed half-a-dozen episodes to ITV's military police series Redcap (1964-66), which starred John Thaw. After more plays and series episodes Kennedy Martin opted for a change of pace to create and write an ITV sitcom, If It Moves, File It (1970). However he was soon back on familiar territory (and with familiar face John Thaw), writing episodes of tough, fast-paced cop show The Sweeney (ITV, 1975-78), a series created by his brother, Ian Kennedy Martin. He enjoyed another huge hit with Reilly Ace of Spies (ITV, 1983) and followed this with his 5-part adaptation of Angus Wilson's The Old Men at the Zoo (BBC, 1983).

In 1985, he delivered what is arguably his finest work, Edge of Darkness (BBC, 1985), a brilliant conspiracy thriller transcending the genre with its mix of murder, political chicanery and supernatural mystery. It was over ten years later that he returned to TV with Screen Two entry 'Hostile Waters' (BBC, 1997) and, later, Bravo Two Zero (BBC, 1999) co-written with Andy McNab.

Kennedy Martin has also written five feature films, the evergreen Italian Job (d. Peter Collinson, 1969), Kelly's Heroes (US/Yugoslavia, d. Brian G Hutton, 1970), The Jerusalem File (US/Israel, d. John Flynn, 1971), Sweeney 2 (d. Tom Clegg, 1978) and Red Heat (US, d. Walter Hill, 1988), co-written with Walter Hill.

Dick Fiddy

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Colditz (1972-74)Colditz (1972-74)

Tense drama about Allied captives in a WWII German prison camp

Thumbnail image of Diary of a Young Man (1964)Diary of a Young Man (1964)

TV drama about two young Northerners in London, co-directed by Ken Loach

Thumbnail image of Edge of Darkness (1985)Edge of Darkness (1985)

Masterly anti-nuclear drama by Troy Kennedy Martin

Thumbnail image of Old Men at the Zoo, The (1983)Old Men at the Zoo, The (1983)

Dark drama in which London Zoo stands for Britain's dystopian future

Thumbnail image of Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983)Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983)

Highly-rated Great War espionage drama

Thumbnail image of Sweeney, The (1975-78)Sweeney, The (1975-78)

Tough 1970s police drama with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman

Thumbnail image of Z Cars (1962-78)Z Cars (1962-78)

Groundbreaking cop drama introducing new grit and realism

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Thumbnail image of MacTaggart, James (1928-74)MacTaggart, James (1928-74)

Producer, Director, Writer

Thumbnail image of Martin, Ian Kennedy (1936- )Martin, Ian Kennedy (1936- )