It’s not often in life you have meaningful friendships that influence your lives. My partner, Janina, and I were lucky enough to have one such with Patrick Edgeworth and his wonderful wife, Susie. Patrick had a wonderfully pragmatic way of dealing with life’s ups and downs. His most memorable qualities were centred around a calm dignity, empathy, and impeccable physical presentation – much like Peter Bowles (star of the UK comedy series To The Manor Born) to whom he was often compared.
But best of all was his ability to write terrific stage, film and TV scripts, which sustained him right to the end. He was in the middle of a number of projects when he died. I firmly believe that his credo of always staying creative kept his intellect sharp as a razor blade. We also shared time in Bristol, UK. He was born and grew up there, and a season at the Bristol Old Vic was my first job as a young Australian actor in England. He was also my writing mentor and Janina’s supportive president when she was a member (and also president) of the Producers and Directors Guild in Melbourne.
Knowing him for so long, it’s been a constant pleasure and inspiration to note his successes. Like his switch to writing plays for the stage, starting with Boswell For The Defence which caught the eye of Leo McKern, and the director Frank Hauser. Opening in Melbourne, its great success took him back to London – the same happened later with Girl Talk – and their successes in the country of his early life gave him great pleasure. However, he was always happy to come back to Oz.
So many of us who worked with Patrick grew very fond of him and his approach to people, and the profession itself. His sensible approach kept many a production intact. This was most apparent with his musical Georgy Girl, a combination of his love of music and his brother Ron’s marriage to Judith Durham of the famous group, The Seekers. I had the impression that it was Patrick’s salute to both the group and Ron and Judy. Patrick sat in on all the rehearsals and was always on hand to make changes to the book when needed. The cast and Judy loved him for it.
After first acting in Crawford Productions’ TV police dramas, Patrick went on to write for them and proved very good at it! It was from there that he formed his own film company with his mate, Russell Hagg. They set up two TV series, Cash and Company and Tandarra. Russell had a lot of experience working on films in England and was the perfect editor. He was also the perfect ‘hard man’ to team up with Patrick’s ‘soft take’ on things. This certainly got things done. Along the way they made a whole new array of friends, including Hedley and Jan Elliot, owners of Emu Bottom – a property where a lot of those series were shot.
Those close friends have happily stayed in touch over the years and, like Janina and I, were also devastated by Patrick’s unexpected death. Although he simply wanted a private family cremation – with no memorial or wake – we feel that his continuing efforts on behalf of writers and the profession generally must not be forgotten. And that includes his important membership in the foundation of the Australian Writers’ Guild, a body to which we writers owe so much today.
– Gary Files
Patrick Edgeworth was born in England, and travelled to Australia to attend his brother, Ron’s, marriage to Judy Durham of The Seekers. He then decided to stay, and became an acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, actor and producer.
He began acting and then writing at Crawford Productions in the 1970s, but he became known for the television and film productions he made with Russell Hagg. Possibly he is best known for BMX Bandits which starred a 16-year-old Nicole Kidman in her first major role. Previously he had written and produced the feature film, Raw Deal (1977). In theatre, he wrote Boswell for the Defence which saw Leo McKern in the leading role, and played successfully in London’s West End as well as Australia from 1989. He later wrote the musical, Georgy Girl, in 2015, which told the story of The Seekers. He also wrote the play, Love Julie, which toured England and also Australia, where Jacki Weaver starred in the retitled Girl Talk.
Patrick’s television output was vast, including many Crawford shows such as Homicide and Matlock Police as writer and actor. With the late Russell Hagg, he wrote and produced Cash and Company and Tandarra. He subsequently wrote for Special Squad, Chances, Ship to Shore, Blue Heelers, State Coroner and Neighbours. He wrote the screenplay which became the 2017 film Bad Blood, which was co-written by director David Pulbrook.
Patrick was active within the Australian Writers’ Guild, especially serving as a judge for the AWGIE Awards. He was also a close friend of acclaimed comedy writer, Hugh Stuckey, who died in 2018. Right to the end he was actively developing a TV version of his play Boswell for the Defence.
– Mark Poole