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Trevor Griffiths (born 4 April 1935, Ancoats, Manchester) is an English dramatist.
Raised as a Roman Catholic, he attended Saint Bede's College, before being accepted into Manchester University in 1952 to read English. After a brief involvement with professional football and a year in National Service, he became a teacher.
He became chairman of the Manchester Left Club, and the editor of the Labour Party's Northern Voice newspaper. Gradually he tired of political journalism, began writing plays, and was eventually commissioned by Tony Garnett to provide a script for The Wednesday Play (BBC, 1964–70). The play, "The Love Maniac", was about a teacher, but even though Garnett took the commission with him when he moved to London Weekend Television and formed Kestrel Productions, it was never produced. Buoyed by Garnett's enthusiasm and influenced by the Paris evenements of May 1968, he wrote Occupations, a stage play about Gramsci and the Fiat factory occupations of 1920s Italy.
The play soon brought him to the attention of Kenneth Tynan, the literary manager of the National Theatre who promptly commissioned Griffiths to write the play that became The Party. This critique of the British revolutionary left (featuring the National's artistic director Laurence Olivier in his last stage role as the Glaswegian Trotskyist John Tagg) failed. A series of television plays, such as "All Good Men" (Play for Today, BBC, 31 January 1974) and "Absolute Beginners" (BBC, 19 April 1974, in the series Fall of Eagles), followed. He developed this further with his series about parliamentary democracy, Bill Brand (ITV, 1976), which was probably the summation of his dialectic technique.
In the meantime Griffiths returned to the theatre with the Nottingham Playhouse production of Comedians directed by Richard Eyre first performed on 20 February 1975, which later transferred to Broadway. Comedians is set in a school in Manchester, where a bunch of budding comics gather for a final briefing before performing to an agent from London. The play is set in real time, i.e.; as the real time is 7.27, the clock on the wall of the school room also says 7.27. The text of the play was first published in 1976 and is now a popular A-level text.
Griffiths' reputation at the time was such that Warren Beatty reportedly asked him to write a screenplay for project about the US revolutionary John Reed, which eventually became the Oscar-winning film Reds (1981). He also wrote the screenplay for Fatherland, which was directed by Ken Loach.
Griffiths continued to work in the theatre, garnering a notable success with the touring production of Oi for England (ITV, 17 April 1982). His teleplay, Country (BBC, 20 October 1981) was a rarity for Griffiths, a period piece that contained none of the political rhetoric familiar from his earlier works. Griffiths examined the nature of Conservatism through the prism of the 1945 general election. He wrote the television serial, Last Place on Earth (ITV, 1985).
The advent of Thatcher, and the reduced opportunities for a writer of the single play, let alone such a political writer as Griffiths, led him back to the theatre, where he has produced a number of plays over the last fifteen years to varying degrees of commercial and critical success. Griffiths's most recent teleplay, Food for Ravens (BBC, 15 November 1997), was commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of Aneurin Bevan's birth, but at one point the BBC decided not to network the play, and instead restrict it to Wales. Only a newspaper campaign led by Griffiths and