He was a very gifted man, with a brilliant ear for dialogue. From the early days of Z Cars and Softly, Softly – through to more recent episodes of Midsomer Murders, Lewis and Dalziell and Pascoe, he wrote lots of police dramas for TV.
He co-founded the Humberside Theatre, in 1970 a small, 150-seat auditorium in Hull, where his stage work was usually first performed. His plays covered subjects as diverse as the General Strike, Mrs Pankhurst, football, jazz, deep-sea fishing, coal mining, and the ruling classes – but were addressed to the ordinary man in the street.
He skilfully adapted the works of other writers for TV [such asOlivia Manning’s Fortunes of War]as well as writing his own stuff.
My absolute favourite Plater is The Beiderbecke Affair – brilliantly filmed for TV with James Bolam and Barbara Flynn as two secondary school teachers. Set in the early 1980’s, I thought it was a really perceptive portrayal of a typical comprehensive school staffroom – but with a very quirky plot line, and wonderful jazz soundtrack.
I do hope they will show it again on TV [although I do have the boxed set of DVDs – maybe I will watch them again when there is nothing on any channel apart from sport!!]
Plater’s final TV drama, Joe Maddison's War, starring Kevin Whately and Robson Green and set on the eve of the second world war in the north-east, where Plater was born, is currently in post-production for ITV. I look forward to watching it.