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Ted Willis, Baron Willis
Ted Willis, Baron Willis
Edward Henry Willis
13 January 1914
|Died||22 December 1992 (aged 78)
|Resting place||Tottenham Cemetery|
Edward Henry Willis, Baron Willis (13 January 1914 – 22 December 1992) was a British playwright, novelist and screenwriter who was also politically active in support of the Labour Party. In 1941 he became the Secretary General of the Young Communist League, the youth branch of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Early life and War service
Born in Tottenham, Middlesex, in Patrick Dickinson's book Could Do Better, Willis described when he was leaving school at the age of fourteen: "I had a two-second 'career interview' with my Headmaster. He asked me what I wished to do for the future and I told him that I intended to become a writer. His response was a cackle followed by the remark: 'You will never make a writer in a hundred years. You haven't got the imagination for it or the intelligence. Go away and learn a good trade.'"
Willis enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers in 1939, subsequently serving in the Army Kinematograph Service. He often spoke at meetings during the Second World War in favour of opening a second front, in order to help the Red Army, which was bearing the brunt of the Nazi onslaught.
His passion for drama first manifested in plays he wrote for the Unity Theatre, based in a former chapel near St Pancras, during the war. He was best known for writing the television series Dixon of Dock Green, based on the stories of Gordon Snashall, a local Chislehurst policeman with whom he was great friends; the series ran for more than twenty years. He was Chairman of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain from 1958 to 1964. Willis created several British television series such as Virgin of the Secret Service, Hunter's Walk, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Copper's End, Sergeant Cork and Mrs Thursday.
Honours and awards
Announced on 23 December 1963 he was awarded a life peerage, which was created on 21 January 1964 with the title Baron Willis, of Chislehurst in the County of Kent, on a Labour Party nomination.
He married the actress Audrey Hale in 1944 and they had a son and a daughter. He died of a heart attack at his home in Chislehurst, Kent in December 1992 aged 78, and was buried at Tottenham Cemetery.
- Holiday Camp (1947)
- Good-Time Girl (1948)
- A Boy, a Girl and a Bike (1949)
- The Huggetts Abroad (1949)
- The Blue Lamp (original treatment, 1950)
- The Undefeated (1951, documentary about disabled war veterans)
- A Story of Achievement (1951, documentary about the development of margarine)
- The Wallet (US Blueprint for Danger, 1952)
- Top of the Form (1953)
- Trouble in Store (1953)
- The Large Rope (US: The Long Rope, 1953)
- Burnt Evidence (1954)
- Up to His Neck (1954)
- One Good Turn (1955)
- It's Great to Be Young (1956)
- Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957)
- The Young and the Guilty (1958)
- No Trees in the Street (1959)
- Flame in the Streets (1961)
- The Horsemasters (1961)
- Bitter Harvest (1963)
- Our Miss Fred (1972)
- The Pattern of Marriage (1953)
- Dixon of Dock Green (1955–1976)
- Hot Summer Night (Armchair Theatre) (1959)
- Tell It to the Marines (1959–1960)
- Taxi! (1963–1964)
- The Sullavan Brothers (1964–1965)
- Sergeant Cork (1963–1969)
- Mrs Thursday (1966–1967)
- The Adventures of Black Beauty (1972–1974)
- Pattullo, Polly (23 December 1992). "Obituary:Ted Willis". The Guardian. Manchester.
- Sutton, Shaun (23 December 1992). "Obituary: Ted Willis". The Guardian. Manchester.
- Landin, Conrad (28 March 2021). "The Writers' Action Group Is a Model for Today's Fight for the Arts". Tribune.
- Obituary, The Independent
- Roberts, Alison (23 December 1992). "Creator of Dixon dies aged 78". The Times. London.
- "Lord Willis: Obituary". The Times. London. 23 December 1992.
- "No. 43190". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 December 1963. p. 10533.
- "No. 43225". The London Gazette. 21 January 1964. p. 571.
- "WILLIS, Ted". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Cracroft's Peerage
- "Ted Willis, Baron Willis". Find a Grave. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
- Willis, Ted (1970). Whatever Happened to Tom Mix? The Story of One of My Lives. London: Cassell. ISBN 0304936758.
- Willis, Ted (1991). Evening All: Fifty Years Over a Hot Typewriter. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0333546865.
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