Eric Pringle: 1935-2017

Eric PringleEric Pringle (left) wrote plays for television and radio, including Doctor Who, and dramatisations of Thomas Hardy, Joan Aiken and HE Bates for BBC Radio 4.

Eric was born and educated in Morpeth, Northumberland. He then took an honours degree in English at Nottingham University.

His career took him south to Gloucester and Bristol, where his first television play The Leech Creation was produced by HTV (West). More TV plays followed together with episodes of Pretenders, Yorkshire TV’s Kate and BBC2’s The Carnforth Practice.

A love of mountains lured Eric and his family to the Lake District, where he wrote a Doctor Who episode The Awakening, diversified into industrial journalism and radio drama and gave up commerce to concentrate on writing.

By far the greatest body of his work was for radio, for which he wrote more than 20 original plays and 15 dramatisations, including adaptations of The Wolves of Willougby Chase and JB Priestley’s The Good Companions. In 2001, his BBC Radio 4 play Hymus Paradisi about the life of Gloucestershire composer Herbert Howells won a Sony Award Best Music Feature. Eric was thrilled that BBC Radio 4 Extra re-broadcast a number of his plays in recent years.

Eric also wrote four children’s books for Bloomsbury: Big George, Big George and the Seventh Knight, Big George and The Winter King, and The Great Big Big Book of George Stories, as well as a novel based on the Doctor Who episode The Awakening.

In more recent times as a patron of the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness, Cumbria, Victoria Wood was approached to write a play to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. She had heard Eric’s 1993 play Meeting Bea on BBC Radio 4 and suggested that the theatre use this. As a result, an adaptation of the play, starring Veronica Roberts, was staged last autumn.

Eric was a stalwart of the Writers’ Guild, who first joined in 1970. He was a very modest, kind man who radiated positivity wherever he went. He was a descendant of a long line of Northumbrian farmers at Tritlington near Morpeth.

Following the death of his much-loved wife Patricia, Eric delighted in a second love when he married Jenny Barr in 2011. He survived oral cancer with great courage and died on 13 April 2017 from lung congestion. He was 82.

Eric is survived by his wife Jenny, children David and Susannah, and granddaughter Bethany.