Stephen Churchett was both an actor and writer. He came into writing late but leaves behind an impressive body of work.
Churchett’s first play, Tom and Clem, ran in the West End in 1997 at the Aldwych Theatre. Michael Gambon played the gay Labour MP Tom Driberg and Alec McCowen, Prime Minister Clement Attlee, in a fictitious encounter between the two at the 1945 Potsdam Conference.
Not long after, Chris Kelly, the television producer of Kavanagh QC, came across a script of Churchett’s “in a slush pile”. Kelly saw its potential and asked Churchett to write a Kavanagh script for him “which he did extremely well.”
“I’m a jobbing actor,” Churchett told The Stage in 1999, “but I will never be a jobbing writer because of the effort and the angst involved. Having been an actor, I know about dialogue – what can be said and what cannot be said, and what works rhythmically in speech.”
Churchett scripted an episode of the 2000 series Monsignor Renard, starring John Thaw again, this time as a French priest during the German occupation of his country in the Second World War.
In 2001 Churchett completed the hat trick of Thaw series when he had the honour of writing the final episode of Inspector Morse, The Remorseful Day.
Churchett went on to write six episodes of the Inspector Morse spin-off series, Lewis, between 2006 and 2013. He also wrote six episodes of Agatha Christie’s Marple series.
Chris Kelly remembers, “Stephen was a very good writer of dialogue and wrote with wit… which is rarer than humour.” Just before he died, Churchett wrote a novel which Kelly says, “deserves to be published.”
“Stephen was a lovely, kind man whose work should have been picked up earlier.”
The WGGB sends condolences to all he leaves behind.
Image: Adam Bronkhorst