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Kevin Laffan

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Kevin Laffan

Kevin Laffan
Born Kevin Barry Laffan
(1922-05-24)24 May 1922
Reading, Berkshire, England
Died

11 March 2003(2003-03-11) (aged 80#REDIRECT

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Occupation Screenwriter, playwright
Nationality British
Genre Television
Notable works Emmerdale (1972–present)
Spouse Jeanne Thompson (his death)

Kevin Barry Laffan (24 May 1922, Reading, Berkshire – 11 March 2003, London) was an English playwright, screenwriter, author, actor and stage director. Laffan is best known for creating the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm, now titled Emmerdale.

Raised in a family of fourteen children, Laffan's Catholic upbringing formed the inspiration for many of his plays. Laffan's theatrical career began with a position as a call boy at the Theatre Royal in Bilston, and would eventually lead to him founding a repertory company in Reading. In later life, Laffan also branched out into fiction, publishing his début novel, Virgins are in Short Supply, in 2001.

Contents

  • Early life and theatre career 1
  • Writing career 2
  • Private life and death 3
  • Awards 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and theatre career

Laffan was the third of fourteen children of a disabled Irish photographer. The family moved to Walsall while he was a child. When he was twelve, they were sent to the workhouse and he claimed to have escaped by jumping off the lorry as it drove through the gates. An elderly actress allowed him to sleep in her kitchen and advised him, "If you want to be serious, make them laugh".[1][2] At 14 he became a call boy at the Theatre Royal in Bilston, and rose to be a stage manager, an actor and a director. In his teens, he also supplemented his acting income by working on a farm for six months, which gave him insight into farming as a way of life when he came to write Emmerdale Farm.[3][4] In the early 1950s he started his own repertory company at the Everyman Theatre in Reading; he was its artistic director until 1958.[1][5]

Writing career

Laffan wrote his first plays under the name Kevin Barry. They included Ginger Bred (1951), The Strip-Tease Murder (1955, co-written with Neville Brian), Winner Takes All (1956) and First Innocent (1957).[3] His 1968 play Zoo, Zoo, Widdershins Zoo, about drop-outs, won the first prize for new plays at the 1968 National Union of Students Drama Festival and was produced at Nottingham Playhouse with Lynn Redgrave in the leading role.[1][5]

Laffan blamed the Roman Catholic Church's ban on artificial birth control for his family's financial problems, saying: "I am a product of my father's belief in God rather than his belief in sex". His play It's Two Foot Six Inches Above the Ground World portrays an Irish Catholic family's family planning problems.[6] Irving Wardle in the Los Angeles Times in 1970 called it "comedy that is clearly rooted in pain";[7] the New York Times in 2010 called it "potty-mouthed".[8] It carried the warning: "It may not be for those who could find a frank discussion of sexual and religious matters not to their taste."[1] It was a West End hit and was made into a film in 1972 as It's a Two-Foot-Six-Inch-Above-the-Ground World, later retitled The Love Ban.[3][5][8][9] His 1994 play The Missionary and Other Positions is about sex.[1] Other later plays include Never So Good (1976), in which a bomb-wielding terrorist visits a group of black squatters, and Adam Redundant (1989), which reverses the roles in the Garden of Eden by making Satan the hero.[1]

Laffan also became known as a television writer in the 1960s. Bud (1963) was a six-episode serial starring the music-hall comedian Bud Flanagan; Castle Haven (1969) was a serial for ITV about the residents of two converted Victorian houses in a seaside town in Yorkshire, featuring Roy Barraclough, Kathy Staff and Jill Summers.[1][3] In 1984 he co-wrote with Peter Jones I Thought You'd Gone, a sitcom about parents who wrongly believe their children have left the nest.[1][3] He wrote episodes of several serials, and also television plays, including Decision to Burn (1971, starring Anthony Hopkins) and The Best Pair of Legs in the Business, (1968, with Reg Varney as a holiday camp drag queen), which was remade as a feature film with the same title in 1972.[1][3][5]

Emmerdale Farm came about after Laffan was asked to write a lunchtime "farm serial" for ITV after government restrictions on broadcasting hours were relaxed. On his agent's advice, he at first refused, fearing that writing a soap opera would damage his reputation as a playwright, but then wrote the requested three months' worth of episodes "as a 26-episode play [leaving] the end open so that it could continue."[3][5] He eventually wrote 262 episodes of the serial, which was first broadcast in November 1972, but stopped in 1985 after twelve years because producers wanted "sex, sin and sensationalism" rather than the realism he had intended;[1][2] however, he remained as a consultant and met Queen Elizabeth II on the set on the programme's 30th anniversary.[2]

Laffan's other big television success was Beryl's Lot, a British sitcom inspired by the real-life story of former maid Margaret Powell.[3][5][9]

In 2001 his first novel, Virgins are in Short Supply, was published; he had initially titled it Pendle's Disposal and been unable to find a publisher, but received two offers within a week of changing the title.[1]

Private life and death

Laffan married Jeanne Thompson in 1952; they had three sons, and lived in Wimbledon.[1][3][9][10][11] He died of pneumonia two weeks after undergoing heart surgery.[3][10] His archives are at the University of Leicester.[5]

Awards

  • 1959: ATV Television Award for Cut in Ebony[5][11]
  • 1969: Irish Life Award[11]
  • 1968: National Union of Students Award[1][5]
  • 1970: Sunday Times Award[11]

References


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Kevin Laffan", Obituaries, The Daily Telegraph, 26 March 2003.
  2. ^ a b c Dennis Barker, "Kevin Laffan: The creator of Emmerdale Farm, he disliked its descent into 'sex and sensationalism'", Obituaries, The Guardian, 20 March 2003.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Anthony Hayward, "Obituary: Kevin Laffan Creator of the long-running ITV soap opera 'Emmerdale Farm'", Obituaries, The Independent (at Highbeam)
  4. ^ "TV soap writer dies in London", Birmingham Evening Mail, 18 March 2003 (at Highbeam)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Kevin Laffan Archive, Archives Hub, retrieved 11 May 2012.
  6. ^ Philippa Hawke, "Where There's a Pill . . .", The Age, 3 December 1981.
  7. ^ Irving Wardle, "The Season in London: The Rift Grows Wider", Los Angeles Times, 12 April 1970 (pay per view)
  8. ^ a b "The Love Ban (1973): Alternate title: It's a 2'6" Above the Ground World", Movies, The New York Times, 2010, retrieved 10 May 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Alasdair Steven, "Obituary Kevin Laffan", The Scotsman, 21 March 2003 (at Highbeam)
  10. ^ a b "Kevin Laffan", The Herald (Glasgow), 21 March 2003 (pay per view) (at Highbeam)
  11. ^ a b c d Contemporary Dramatists, ed. K. A. Berney, 5th ed., Contemporary writers of the English language, London / Washington, DC / Detroit: St. James, 1993, ISBN 9781558621855, p. 370.

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