Friday, January 16, 2009


John Mortimer, the creator of Horace Rumpole, the British counterpart to the American Perry Mason, has died. He was 85.

I cobbled this together from Wikipedia:

Sir John Clifford Mortimer, CBE QC (21 April 1923 – 16 January 2009) was an English barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author.

He developed his career as a playwright by rising early to write before attending court and his work in total includes over fifty books, plays, and scripts.

Mortimer is best remembered for creating a barrister named Horace Rumpole, whose speciality is defending those accused of crime in London's Old Bailey. Mortimer created Rumpole for 'Rumpole of the Bailey', a 1975 contribution to the BBCs 'Play For Today' anthology series.

Played with gusto by Leo McKern, the character proved popular, and was developed into a 'Rumpole of the Bailey' television series for Thames Television and a series of books (all written by Mortimer). In September/October 2003, BBC Radio 4 broadcast four new 45-minute Rumpole dramatizations by Mortimer starring Timothy West in the title role. He also dramatised many of the real-life cases of the barrister Edward Marshall-Hall in a radio series starring ex-'Doctor Who' star Tom Baker.

In 1986, his description of what he saw as Britain's descent into the viciousness of Thatcherism – "Paradise Postponed" – was televised.

Mortimer was credited with the adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" for Granada Television in 1981. However, Graham Lord's biography, "John Mortimer: The Devil's Advocate", revealed in 2005 that none of Mortimer's submitted scripts had in fact been used and that the screenplay was actually written by the series producer and director.

Mortimer adapted John Fowles' "The Ebony Tower", starring Laurence Olivier for Granada in 1984. From 2004, Mortimer worked as a consultant for the politico-legal US comedy television show 'Boston Legal'.

As Red Skelton would say, "Good night, and may God bless......"

Toby O'B

1 comment:

Mercurie said...

It is hard to believe how many great people have died in the past week. I'm trying to remember a time when more have died and I can't. Patrick McGoohan. Ricardo Montalban. Sir John Mortimer. The giants are disappearing.