Tudor Gates

Tudor Gates photo
Family name: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
26 Nov 2003
19 Feb 2004
16 Sep 2004
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 

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Interview notes

                                NB There are some format problems in this summary DS




                      Interviewed by Roy Fowler on 26.11.03



Started in 1943 in the theatre. 13 years old. A large lad. First play "Wild Rose" at the Prince's theatre. Union benevolent to outsiders. Father injured in air raid. Revealed he had throat cancer. Became breadwinner at 14. Neighbour found him job at Arts Theatre in October 1944. Alec Clunes' Hamlet. Working fulltime. Workshop during day at Manette Street making scenery and doing show at night. Earned good money. Then to Old Vic at the New Theatre. Job applications controlled by union. First night’s work was on Uncle Vanya. Tyrone Guthrie the producer. Memories of Arts Theatre Club. Also Peer Gynt at the Old Vic. John Burrell the other producer. Olivier and Leighton. Arms & the Man. Leighton and Joyce Redman. Richardson and Olivier. Got to know the plays and how they were constructed. Sybil Thomdike, Nicholas Hannen, Harcourt Williams and Creorge Relph. Olivier as a director. A great entrepreneur. Introduced Comedie Francaise. 1946-47 season: Oedipus and The Critic. Now working in the flies. Tough work. A flyman with hangman ambitions. Became head flyman at 17. Hierarchies. Olivier's stunt. More plays: Henry IV with Richardson and Olivier. King Lear. Alec Guinness' arrival. Cyrano de Bergerac with Richardson. 1947-48: An Inspector Calls with Guinness. The Government Inspector. Taming of the Shrew with Trevor Howard. A very good physical actor. Joined the army in 1948 and became a tank driver. Sent to North Africa (Libya). Became a teacher. Own quarters. Life in Libya. Took demob out there, and made his own way home. Disliked authority in the army. Returned to the theatre. Worked on pantos. Back to Old Vic as head flyman. Crime & Punishment with Gielgud. John Clements and company. Property master at the Prince's. Guinness’ Hamlet. Kenneth Tynan as the King. Man & Superman. Esmond Knight. (45 mins).


                     End of side I.



When Esmond Knight forgot his lines. He and Clements prompted each other. First time on tour. Props and carpenter. Long hours and good money. The anatomy of touring. Special trains. Actors went first class. Massive scenery moves. Lawrence Irving the designer. Encounter with Felix Topolski. Great stress of working. Played all the main cities. Packed houses everywhere. High class productions. Pantos at Christmas. Christine Norden and Derek Roy. The Mandrake Club. Mac the bouncer and his encounter with Dylan Thomas. Developed an ulcer from overwork. Stopped touring. Worked for electrical contractor. Made furniture. Bought a share in builder's yard. Casual work at the Casino. The Folies Bergeres. The Beverley Sisters. Now reached 1953. Started writing. The Governor on TV. Working for Rediffusion. Peter Willis, Donald Bull and Giles Cooper. Assignments converting West End plays for TV. The feasts and famines of a writer. Became John Clements' dresser. Still a stressful life. Collapsed in street. Had a partial gastrectomy at 26. Contracted TB. Librarian in local library. Now a council employee on full pay whilst in hospital. Continued to write. Became a fulltime writer. Goes back to his memories of the music halls. "Binkie" Beaumont and Crime & Punishment. Ordered refurbishment of Gielgud’s dressing room. The Alberys father and son. Worked with Harry Fine on tour as props and master carpenter. David Gideon Thompson was a colleague. The reneged deal with Robert Stigwood. Working with Jeffrey Archer. Music Hall memories at the Britannia in Hoxton. Hackney Empire. How jobs were found, (networking). (45 mins)

                    End of side 2


                       SIDE THREE

                        First TV play commissioned by Associated Rediffusion. Peter Graham Scott directed. Put out                                                  in first week of commercial TV. ITV gave him a chance with The Governor. Worked with Giles Cooper. Did          two adaptations. Learned lesson on writer "participation". Also Jim's Inn for Rediffusion. Also writing Look at Life, the Rank cinema series. Dina Lom his agent. Then Mark Berlin. Enjoyed documentaries.    Amazed at the power of Rank Films. Opened all doors. Also made industrial films: Ford trucks, Sleep. Research on subject made him an expert. Now in the late 1950's. Still at the library. A good stopgap. Episodes  of Interpol Calling. Library paid

£800 a year, TV writing f2000. Ghost Squad for ATV. Script editor Lou Greifer. Producer Stella Richman. Joins Writers' Guild. 24 Hour Call followed. Harpers West One. £750 per 50-minute episode. Very prosperous. Stitched up by two script editors. Started to work for Granada. The Villains. Memories of Stella Richman. Now 1963. Got married. Bought first house in Birchington. Worked on Canadian TV series Tugboat Annie" out of Elstree Studios. Met Al Rosen in car park, an agent. Wrote a picture for him, Troubled Waters, first feature film. Made by Sagittarius. Al planned a film on Colonel Grivas. 1964: Harry Fine reappears as a casting director, producing filmed series for ATV. Worked on several of these. Never wrote on spec. Sketched out ideas. Wrote a novel on North Sea oil commissioned by a publisher: I Was Walking Down Below. Agent now Richard Duvivier. Harry introduces Brian Degas. Making Sentimental Agent at the time. Brian had commission to write for The Saint. A great talker but no writer. Tudor did the writing. After three episodes, went into partnership (1966), and Drumbeat Productions. A successful partnership. Man in a Suitcase, Strange Report etc. Started by ghosting then had joint credits. Master Janus. Then used individual credits. Brian did the selling; Tudor the writing. Partnership between 1966 and 1969. Agent Dennis van Thai, then Michael Grade. Vendetta on BBC1. Cry a Nightmare in Italy for Mario Bava. Big achievement rewrite of Barbarella. Two other films in Italy. (44 minutes)

End of side 3.



More on Barbarella. Original strip by Jean Claude Foret. Nine credits in all. $9 million picture. Script trimmed to save money. Milo O’Shea’s part cut out. Film work still overlapping TV work. Became agents as well. Wrote three books on “Scipio”. Had a flat and two cars. Tax paid by the company. Payment shares varied. Very busy with films. Under great stress. Went home at weekends. Brian gets married 1969. Rome studios very busy. Americans’ sudden withdrawal from Europe. To New York to write for Wilbur Stark. My Lover My Son. Only Hammer were now making films in the U.K. Rewrites for Cubby Broccoli with Stanley Baker. They were now script doctors. Brian falls ill and work schedule slips. Brian ends the partnership. A total betrayal. Buys Brian out. A week to write a “Scipio” book. Lease of office ends. Asset thrown away. Contracts are lost. Recovered in 1970. Through Harry Fine meets Michael Style, a producer/director in Canadian TV. Connections with Nat Cohen and Jimmy Carreras. Thence to Hammer. First project Camilla, a Sheridan Le Fanu story. Permissiveness now reaches the screen, and Camilla becomes The Vampire Lovers: a lesbian horror film. Carreras’ skill in selling talent. Backtracking to feature Dateline Diamonds. Harold Shampan was Head of Music at Rank’s. Project for film on pirate radio stations. Recalls the characters around CineCitta in Rome at this time. Returns to the aftermath of Barbarella. Put in touch with Harry Salzman. Donny Kirschner, the man with the golden ear. A music entrepreneur who created The Monkees. Came up with Tomorrow, a film of ideas. Called in Anthony Simmons as director. Pitched in New York, but Tomorrow rejected. Returns with a new version to Harry Salzman, who rejects it. Talk of the next James Bond picture with Peter Hunt. An interesting period for Harry Salzman. Tudor out of time for this. (45 minutes)


End of side 4.



Memories of the sixties. The Arethusa in King’s Road. Working on Vendetta. John Barry score. Met Christine Keeler. But sixties passed him by because of work pressure. More on Vampire Lovers. A good cast, and good production values. Cost £160000. Formed Fantail Films, with 25% profit from Hammer Films. Now mastered on to DVD. Roy Ward Baker the director. Broke box office records in Dublin. Wrote a follow-up To Love a Vampire, set in a girls’ school. Went wrong for a number of reasons. Retitled Lust for a Vampire. Yutte Stensgaard inadequate in the part. Terence Fisher, the director dropped out. Jimmy Sangster came in as director. At loggerheads with Michael Style, who wanted to introduce a song, following the success of Butch Cassidy. “Strange Love” the song. Harold Shampan reappeared. Then Peter Cushing’s wife died. Replaced by Ralph Bates. Heart went out of Sangster's work. Picture staggered to an end. Asked to do a picture with centre-fold twins (Twins of Evil). Cushing returns, and plays a puritan preacher. Picture went well. Johnny Hough the director. Tudor’s favourite film of the three. Defying the depression in the cinema. Jimmy Carreras suddenly decided to stand down. Handed over to son Michael who was not so successful. Fantail backed by British Lion, and made Fright directed by Peter Collinson. Fantail wound up. Had his first play put on at the Mercury Theatre Oscar X with Norman Wooland and Derek Griffiths. Accepted well but not profitable. Wrote a good commercial play set in the Mercury, but project collapsed. His company set up a film Love Box, budgeted at £28000. Wilbur Stark came in. Written under pseudonym Teddy Wright. Still working on The Optimists with Tony Simmons. Wrote another sex comedy with  Michael Style, commissioned by Tigon, directed by Martin Campbell. Who Killed Jack Robin for Charles Ross. All in 1973. Wrote a musical called Vamp with Chris Neil. Put up to Robert Stigwood. Star John Gregson collapsed. Stigwood’s assistant Lee Menzies reported badly, and the deal fell through. Then another sex comedy in 1974: Who Saw Him Die at Theatre Royal Haymarket. Ran for a year until IRA bomb. Directed a film Intimate Games for Tigon. Budget £60000. Guido Cohen producer. Met up again with Harold Shampan who sold his company to Dick James. Formed a production company with them. Bought a distribution company called Doverton. Now in 1975 directed Who Saw Him Die in Australia and New Zealand. Then discovered Doverton deeply in debt. But Three for All was distributed before it collapsed. Harold Shampan wanted to get back to family films. Martin Campbell directed again. Set in Spain. Trip to the Bahamas to see Bob Oliver for sex film backing. Mob connections. Oliver offered him free accommodation in Spain. Sudden holiday bookings made things cramped. But the film flopped. (46 minutes)



End of side 5.



Now in 1975. Film Producer career over. Had an affection for the sex film industry. Battles with the censor etc. The censorship trading system. Film Trigger Break proposed to Harry Fine. Palace coup at MGM stopped it. Wrote the book of Black Joy, (Tony Simmons’ film). In 1976 had another play in the West End: Who Killed Agatha Christie? with James Bolam and Gerald Flood. Toured extensively. Aurelia adapted from a French play. Did a Sweeney script for TV. Met Sheldon Reynolds. 1980 wrote another play William Hickey starring George Best’s girlfriend. Reynolds did Sherlock Holmes films in Warsaw. Project closed as a result of Polish revolution. Screenplay A Married Man. Set in Africa. Started Macready’s Club in Mercer Street in 1973. Collaborated on a play with Jeffrey Archer “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” in 1985. Very successful. Ghost job for Menahem Golem. The Kidnap Game with Hayley Mills in


Richmond. Gulf War stopped its West End opening. Toured with Confessions of Murder. Became President of ACTT in 1985. Documentaries in Thailand and Burma. Helped by a local drug dealer (aka freedom fighter). Wrote a book on the drug activities. Also did another documentary in Bangladesh. Met Kaunda in Zambia. Frequent visits to Sheldon Reynolds in New York. Busy with ACTT/BECTU in 1991. Involved in FISTAV (copyright protection). Opened “Pegs Club”. Health problems in late 90’s. Interesting market in amateur performances. Wrote a play for BT for amateur companies: Ladies Who Lunch. Pacemaker inserted in 1998. Wrote an English version of French play Sex, Love & Jealousy whilst in hospital. Being put on next year by Ian Dicken. Saving Ardley for World Wildlife and amateur performances. Book “Scenario” in 2001. Has the rights on story of kidnapped man in Bolivia. Describes his writing routines. Paid for everything he wrote, except plays. Only inspiration is to earn a living. Just a working author. Likes to write longhand. Views on agents. Dina Lom, Mark Berlin, Dennis van Tha1, Michael Grade, Eric Glass, William Morrison, etc. Enjoys theatre first. The audience reactions. (46 minutes).


End of side 6.



Tudor describes in detail his activities with ACTT, later BECTU, as president, vice president. Etc. The politics and personalities. Also, activities with the Writers’ Guild. (45 minutes)


End Of Side 7.



Further recollections of Union activities. Comments on misguided property deals etc. (9 minutes).




















aka Teddy White