Ray Jenkins: 1953-2023

Former WGGB Books Co-Chair and 'Write Stuff' author Nick Yapp pays tribute to scriptwriter and long-term WGGB activist Ray Jenkins
Ray Jenkins

Ray Jenkins was a distinguished TV, radio and film dramatist who wrote for numerous highly acclaimed British police and justice-related drama series from the 1960s to the 1980s, including Z CarsThe BrothersThis Man CraigCallanThe SweeneySpecial BranchJuliet BravoGentle TouchThe Chief and The Brief.Jenkins also adapted Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, starring Ian Richardson and Jenny Seagrove, for BBC Television and Tom Hart’s novel Aura and the Kingfisher as The Innocent for the silver screen, starring Liam Neeson and Miranda Richardson with cinematography by Roger Deakins.
In addition, he wrote drama scripts for education, notably Five Green Bottles and The Whole Truth, still widely used today, and he continued to teach scriptwriting both nationally and internationally into his 70s.

Jenkins was a key player in the Writers’ Guild in the early 1970s, encouraging the union to fight the Conservative Government over the Industrial Relations Bill. At the time, Jenkins was Chair of the Television Committee during what was then the toughest decade in the union’s history. In his own words, he saw most committee work as “humdrum” and “time consuming” but also “vital”. He proudly wrote at the time: “It would seem obvious that the Guild’s standing in the realm of industrial agreements is so unquestioned that we were approached first by companies wishing to exploit TV work… Long may such respect and reward continue!”Jenkins was also deeply involved on behalf of the Writers’ Guild in the battles that raged between the TUC and the Heath Government over the Industrial Relations Bill. Battles also raged between members of the Guild’s Executive Council. One Sunday morning in February 1971 matters came to a head at the Clarendon Court Hotel. A Guild EC meeting voted 50 to 19 to obey the Industrial Relations Act when it came to power. Jenkins and two other members of the EC walked out in disgust.In brief, Ray Jenkins was one of the many many members of the Guild who have given up precious writing time and devoted it to precious union time instead.