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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Obituary: Frank Deasy

    Scriptwriter whose work for television included The Passion and Prime Suspect 7

    by Ronald Bergan, Sunday 20 September 2009

    Frank Deasy Obituary | Television & Radio | The Guardian

    Frank Deasy in 2007 with his Emmy for Prime Suspect

    While plays in the theatrical sense by living writers have more or less disappeared from British television over the last half century, the prestige of writing drama series conceived in fully televisual terms has increased tenfold, thanks in part to writers such as Troy Kennedy Martin (obituary, 16 September). Frank Deasy, who has died during an operation to give him a liver transplant at the age of 49, was a beneficiary of the preceding generation. He had reached the pinnacle of his profession, having won an Emmy for Prime Suspect: The Final Act (2006), and had received much acclaim for his four-part television series The Passion (2008).

    His crime series Father and Son, set in Manchester and Dublin and starring Dougray Scott, was shown on RT� earlier this year, and has still to be shown in Britain by co-producer ITV. Deasy was working on the screenplay of Gaza, a BBC feature starring Helen Mirren as a secular Jewish doctor in the Middle East. And so much more was promised.

    Deasy, who was born in Dublin and brought up in the northern suburb of Artane, studied at Trinity College before working as a child social worker for Ireland's Eastern Health Board. He began making videos in the mid-1980s before writing and co-directing his first film, The Courier (1988), in Irish Gaelic and English. One of the rare Irish features at the time, it starred Gabriel Byrne as a reformed drug user attempting to crack a drug-dealing operation.

    Deasy delicately adapted his screenplay for Gillies MacKinnon's The Grass Arena (1991) from the powerful and moving autobiography of John Healy (Mark Rylance), a boxer who became an alcoholic but who finds salvation in chess. Captives (1994), directed by Angela Pope, was a taut erotic thriller in which dentist Julia Ormond, who works part time in Wandsworth prison, has a torrid affair with prisoner Tim Roth.

    Deasy, having now moved to Glasgow, wrote the thriller Looking After Jo-Jo (1998) for BBC Scotland, which starred Robert Carlyle as a petty thief turned drug dealer. It was clear from these screenplays that Deasy's forte was writing gritty, intelligent atmospheric dramas with street cred. Also for the BBC were Real Men (2003), about abuse in a children's home, and England Expects (2004), about racism in the workplace.

    On the strength of these, Deasy was offered the chance to follow Lynda La Plante and various other writers on Prime Suspect, three years after Prime Suspect 6. The two-part, four-hour finale proved to be vintage television with Mirren giving a magisterial valedictory performance as Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison. "Don't call me 'ma'am'," she says to a colleague near the end. "I'm not the bloody queen."

    The Passion, the gospel according to Deasy, which the BBC screened at Easter 2008, seemed in contrast to his other work, except for the strong human values. "What I personally was fascinated by was the duality of Jesus in his divinity and his humanity," Deasy told Christian Today. "This is essentially a mystery, but his humanity has to be total, otherwise he is somewhat of a tourist in his own Passion. I've tried to find a human truth that feels real and that is not always the same as a theological truth, and so I would hope that people would be open to the fact they are watching a piece of drama rather than a theological treatise."

    Deasy had already been diagnosed with liver cancer four years previously when he underwent surgery to remove the tumour. Sadly, it was found to have returned in January this year. In the Observer of 13 September, Deasy wrote about his wait for a transplant. "I am only one of thousands of patients on organ transplant lists in Britain, living on our own, invisible, death row � I take the kids to school, we celebrate birthdays and argue over whether they're old enough to walk to school on their own. They probably are but the one thing I know for certain is they're not old enough to be without their dad."

    The article prompted an hour-long interview with Deasy on the RT� radio chatshow Liveline last Monday. As a consequence, more than 10,000 Irish people have signed up to carry organ donor cards, and health minister Mary Harney has urged further discussion of the issue.

    Deasy married Marie Connolly, a criminal lawyer, in 1996. He is survived by her and their three children.

    Frank Deasy, writer, born 1960; died 17 September 2009

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    From The Times

    September 22, 2009

    Frank Deasy: film and television writer

    Deasy won an Emmy for the final instalment of Prime Suspect and worked on a film adaptation of Prozac Nation

    Frank Deasy: film and television writer | Times Online Obituary

    Frank Deasy had a distinguished career as a television writer, winning an Emmy two years ago for the final instalment of Prime Suspect and injecting fresh drama and debate into the Gospel story with his BBC/HBO mini-series The Passion last year.

    As a screen writer, Deasy generally kept a low profile, but he hit the news in the UK and his native Ireland only days before his death, speaking candidly about his liver cancer and his urgent need for a transplant. He appealed for more people to register as organ donors and for a system of �presumed consent�, opting out of organ donation, rather than opting in.

    He wrote: �I have a tumour growing in my liver that will kill me unless I receive a liver transplant in the very near future. I am only one of thousands of patients on organ transplant lists in Britain, living on our own, invisible, death row.� An appearance on Irish radio reportedly led to more than 7,500 people applying to become organ donors. A donor was found for him, but Deasy died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary during the operation.

    Born in Dublin in 1959, Deasy worked in childcare in Ireland before developing his career as a writer, working on shorts and writing and co-directing the feature film The Courier (1988), a thriller starring Gabriel Byrne, Ian Bannen and Patrick Bergin. He joked that the reviews turned his hair white.

    He scripted the TV film The Grass Arena (1991) and Captives (1994), a film starring Tim Roth, as a violent prisoner, and Julia Ormond, as the prison dentist with whom he begins an illicit relationship. He went to Glasgow for the BBC drama Looking after Jo Jo (1998), which starred Robert Carlyle as a drug dealer. During his researches he met the lawyer Marie Connolly, who became his wife, and he moved to Scotland.

    Hollywood beckoned and he worked on a film adaptation of Prozac Nation (2001), Elizabeth Wurtzel�s account of her battle with depression and her dependence on drugs. There were high hopes for the film, which starred Christina Ricci and was acquired by Miramax. The company test-screened it and re-edited it, but it was never released in US or UK cinemas, eventually turning up on TV.

    Returning to television, Deasy scripted The Rats (2002); Real Men (2003); England Expects (2004), a BBC drama about racism, starring Steven Mackintosh; and Prime Suspect: The Final Act, aka Prime Suspect 7, in which Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) faces up to alcoholism, impending retirement and the imminent death of her father.

    Deasy attempted to put Christ�s final days into some sort of political context in The Passion, expanding the roles of Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas and presenting a sympathetic portrait of Judas Iscariot. �I�ve always had a problem with Judas in Passion stories in that he suddenly and inexplicably betrays Jesus,� said Deasy. �I was keen to develop a psychological reality to Judas�s portrayal.� Traditionalists accused the BBC of rewriting the Gospel, but the mini-series received generally favourable reviews.

    His most recent production was Father and Son, an RT�/ITV four-part drama with Dougray Scott as a criminal trying to steer his son away from crime. It broadcast this summer in Ireland and is still to be shown in the UK. He had also been developing Gaza, a film in which Dame Helen Mirren is to play a Jewish woman living in the Gaza Strip.

    He is survived by his wife and three children.

    Frank Deasy, film and television writer, was born on May 19, 1959. He died of liver cancer on September 17, 2009, aged 50

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