Hommage à Leigh Jackson

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Message  Matthieu le Sam 29 Aoû 2009 - 15:16

Obituary: Leigh Jackson - Writer of the television dramas 'Warriors' and 'The Project'
Par Anthony Hayward (The Independent, 31 mars 2003).
THE TELEVISION dramatist Leigh Jackson's most recent original plays, Warriors and The Project, featured the war in Bosnia and the disillusionment of some of those young idealists who masterminded New Labour's rise to power. His premature death coincides with the Blair government's fighting on another battlefront, without the support of almost half of its electorate.

Warriors (1999) told the story of British soldiers among the United Nations peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and their frustrations and horror at witnessing the most barbaric atrocities but being denied, by UN rules of engagement, the authority to prevent them. Jackson based the script on interviews with more than 90 soldiers and their families conducted by the drama's director, Peter Kominsky, and intended it to give them a voice and question the role of British forces caught in the crossfire of foreign wars.

After Warriors won eight awards, including the Prix Italia, Jackson and Kominsky were given carte blanche for their next television play together. The result was The Project (2002), described by the BBC's controller of drama commissioning, Jane Tranter, as "the most courageous drama the BBC has done for years". But the disillusionment in politics voiced by the writer and director appeared to rub off on viewers, with audiences of barely three million for the two-part play.

It followed four Manchester University graduates, in particular Paul (Matthew Macfadyen), who takes a job with the Labour Party as a press officer, and Maggie (Naomie Harris), who joins as a volunteer. His work as a spin doctor helps the party to win power in 1997, after 18 years of uninterrupted Tory rule, and she is elected an MP in that landslide poll. However, their original enthusiasm dissipates, as Paul finds himself under pressure to use whatever underhand methods are necessary to achieve results and Maggie abandons her conscience to follow the party whip.

Jackson's motivation for writing The Project came from his recollection of being jubilant at Labour's election victory - "taking a taxi to Brixton, the driver had the radio tuned to a news programme and, as we passed fellow fans celebrating on the streets, it felt like the England football team had just beaten the Faroe Islands" - and his subsequent realisation that "after 18 years we might have voted in another `Tory' government, only this one was more efficient and twice as ruthless".

Born in London in 1950, Jackson was brought up in Bampton, Devon, and studied politics and economics at Manchester University. He then joined a London-based Theatre in Education company as a stage manager and switched to writing after having an unsolicited script accepted by the Royal Court Theatre. His plays Eclipse (1978) and Reggae Britannia (1979) were both performed there.

This led him to write dramas for BBC radio and become script editor of the television children's serial Grange Hill, taking over the job from Anthony Minghella. Jackson was unflinching in tackling seriously issues such as teenage pregnancy in the popular programme and, with Charlotte Keatley, he devised the London-set radio serial Citizens (1987-88). He enjoyed switching between the serious and the populist, believing it was also possible to mix the two.

For television, he wrote the BBC's "Screen Two" comedy drama Drowning in the Shallow End (1990), about a scriptwriter with marriage problems on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and the three- part Downtown Lagos (1992), the tale of a stuffy solicitor who leads a Billy Liar-type existence. More recently, he adapted Joanna Trollope's novel Other People's Children (2000), which examines the effects of divorce on parents, children and step-parents.

At the time of his death from cancer, Jackson was working on an ambitious adaptation of William Golding's sea trilogy To the Ends of the Earth, about a young English aristocrat on a voyage of discovery to Australia.

Leigh Jackson, writer: born London 5 July 1950; married Simone Renshaw (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved); died Bampton, Devon 27 March 2003.
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Message  Sylvie V le Sam 29 Aoû 2009 - 16:05

Si jeune... Quelle perte!
Sylvie V
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Date d'inscription : 10/01/2009

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