Melvin Barry Hines
30 June 1939
|Died||18 March 2016 76) (aged|
|Education||Ecclesfield Grammar School|
Melvin Barry Hines, FRSL (30 June 1939 – 18 March 2016) was an English author, playwright, screenwriter and amateur footballer. His novels and screenplays explore the political and economic struggles of working-class Northern England, particularly in his native West Riding/South Yorkshire.
He is best known for the novel A Kestrel for a Knave (1968), which he helped adapt for Ken Loach's film Kes (1969). He collaborated with Loach on adaptations of his novels Looks and Smiles and The Gamekeeper, and the 1977 two-part television drama The Price of Coal .
He also wrote the television film Threads , which depicts the impact of a nuclear war on Sheffield.
Hines was born in the mining village of Hoyland Common near Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire. He attended Ecclesfield Grammar School and played football for the England Grammar Schools team.After leaving school with five O levels he took a job with the National Coal Board as an apprentice mining surveyor at Rockingham Colliery. A neighbour he chanced to meet at the coal face disapproved of his failure to meet his potential; Hines later said that was when he decided to return to school to take his examinations.
He achieved four A levels and studied for a teaching qualification at Loughborough College.For his dissertation, Hines wrote a piece of creative fiction entitled "Flight of the Hawk", which later inspired his debut novel The Blinder. He worked as a Physical Education teacher for several years, initially for two years in a London comprehensive school and subsequently at Longcar Central School in Barnsley, where he wrote novels in the school library after the children had gone home. He later became a full-time writer.
Hines was a keen amateur footballer who played for Barnsley's reserves and was invited to a trial at Manchester United.He later played for Loughborough College, Crawley Town and Stocksbridge Works. He also represented England Schoolboys.
Hines' first published work was the play Billy's Last Stand, written while he worked as a PE teacher alongside his debut novel, The Blinder. A duologue between an impoverished coal-miner and his manipulative business partner, it first appeared on the BBC Radio Third Programme in 1965, with Arthur Lowe and Ronald Baddiley.
The broadcast of Billy's Last Stand found Hines a publisher for The Blinder, which was published in 1966. It follows a gifted teenage footballer torn between his sporting career and his academic aspirations. The novel was partly based on Hines' own experiences playing youth football, as he had played for Barnsley FC's youth team and was offered trials at Manchester United.
The Blinder caught the attention of film and television producer Tony Garnett. He approached Hines about the possibility of writing a Wednesday Play for the BBC, but Hines told him he had "got this book going round my head and I need to write it".He received a bursary from the BBC to take a sabbatical from his teaching work to write the novel on a retreat on the island of Elba. Garnett and Ken Loach, who had worked together on the Wednesday Plays Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home , read the manuscript to the unpublished novel and purchased the rights for their new production company Kestrel Films in July 1967.
A Kestrel for a Knave was published in 1968. It tells the story of Billy Casper, a troubled and neglected schoolboy living in a mining village who finds comfort in tending a kestrel that he names 'Kes'. Hines was inspired by the experiences of his brother Richard, who tamed a hawk of the same name in his youth.He co-wrote the script for the film version Kes (1969) with Loach and Garnett. Disney later offered to buy the rights on the condition that the downbeat ending, in which Billy's brother Jud kills the kestrel, be changed; Hines refused. The film was shot on location around Hines' native Barnsley and Hoyland Common. Released in November 1969, it became a critical and commercial success and has subsequently become regarded as one of the greatest British films ever made.
Hines continued writing novels, plays and television scripts throughout the 1970s, with much of his output centring on the tensions of labour and industry that characterised British society at the time. He adapted Billy's Last Stand for the theatre in 1971, with the titular character played by Ian McKellen, and published First Signs, a novel following a young expatriate in Italy returning to his northern hometown, in 1972. He contributed two scripts for the BBC's Play for Today strand; Speech Day in 1973 and Two Men from Derby in 1976.
In 1975, Hines wrote The Gamekeeper, a novel about a former steelworker who becomes a gamekeeper on a ducal estate, which he adapted to film with Loach in 1980. Further collaborations with Loach in this period included the 1977 two-part television drama, The Price of Coal. The first part, "Meet the People", follows a royal visit to a colliery while the second part, "Back to Reality", follows an accident that claims the lives of several pit workers.
The fourth and final collaboration with Loach was Looks and Smiles, published as a novel in 1980 and adapted as film in 1981. Following the daily life of an unemployed 17-year-old in Sheffield, it began as a screenplay about teenage relationships, before the issue of unemployment became central to the narrative. It competed at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Young Cinema Award.In these projects, Hines' involvement in the filmmaking process exceeded the typical expectations of a screenwriter; he was involved in casting decisions alongside Loach, attended shoots and participated in the editing process.
In 1984, Hines wrote the script for the BAFTA award-winning TV film Threads (1984), a speculative television drama examining the effects of nuclear war on Sheffield. The BBC had commissioned the drama and hired Mick Jackson to direct after he produced the Q.E.D. documentary A Guide to Armageddon in 1982. Jackson hired Hines to write the screenplay because he wanted a social realist tone.Hines focused the narrative on a young couple in Sheffield dealing with an unexpected pregnancy as the threat of nuclear exchange escalates. Although Sheffield was chosen due to its proximity to RAF bases and geographical centrality, it also continued Hines' tradition of setting his work in and around South Yorkshire.
In contrast to the harmonious collaboration with Loach, Hines had a strained relationship with Jackson; according to his wife Eleanor, he disliked Jackson due to his class background while Jackson was frustrated by the amount of time Hines spent on set.However, the film was a critical success, winning a BAFTA award for Best Television Drama. Hines received a personal letter of praise from Labour leader Neil Kinnock, and Jackson claims that the film was viewed by Ronald Reagan when it was broadcast on American television the following year.
After Threads, Hines' output became more sporadic. In the early 1990s, he wrote two television plays about football; Shooting Stars, about three friends who hold a local star striker to ransom, was broadcast on Channel 4 in 1990, and Born Kicking, about the first professional female footballer, was broadcast on BBC1 in 1992. His penultimate novel, The Heart of It, was published in 1994 and returned to the subject of coal-mining, depicting a Hollywood screenwriter returning home to visit his father, a communist former miner and veteran of the 1984-85 miner's strike. In 2003, Loach was in contact with Hines about adapting the novel for film, but Hines refused because he felt "the ideas had gone stale".
His final novel was Elvis Over England, published in 2000 to mixed reviews; it follows a road trip undertaken by an unemployed Elvis fanatic who undertakes a road trip to Prestwick, Scotland, the only place Elvis ever set foot in the U.K.
In 2009, after Hines' diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease prevented him from further writing, Pomona Books published This Artistic Life, an anthology of previously unpublished short stories mostly written around the time of A Kestrel for a Knave.
According to Dave Gibson, Hines' work is "characterised by his ear for dialogue, his sympathetic use of Barnsley dialect and his identification with working class struggles".His writing has been described as social realist. Imogen Carter notes that A Kestrel for a Knave features "dazzling natural imagery, reminiscent of Seamus Heane y's 1966 poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist."
Hines's work frequently addressed contemporary British social issues, such as education in A Kestrel for a Knave, unemployment in Looks and Smiles, and working conditions and industrial action in the mining industry in The Price of Coal and The Heart of It. Football appears extensively in his writing; Hines recalled that being told he "knew what the game was all about" by a professional footballer was one of the best critiques he had received.
Hines' work has received significant recognition. Kes won a number of awards, including a Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best British Screenplay and a BAFTA nomination for Best Screenplay.
Threads (1984) won a special award at the 1985 Monte-Carlo Television Festival, the Broadcasting Press Guild Award in 1985 for Best Single Drama, and was nominated for seven different awards in the 1985 BAFTA Awards, winning the Best Single Drama award.
Hines claimed he took no pleasure in receiving awards; his main concern was the approval of working-class readers, and the confirmation that they had been represented accurately. Some of his readers claimed that A Kestrel for a Knave was the only book they had ever read.Ian McMillan wrote that "here in the former South Yorkshire coalfield A Kestrel for a Knave is our Moby-Dick, our Things Fall Apart, our Great Gatsby."
Hines was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Loughborough in July 2009 and an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) at the University of Sheffield on 14 January 2010.In 2008, his personal archive was donated to the University, where it is now part of the Library Special Collections.
Upon his death, he received tributes from literary and political figures. Tony Parsons described him as "inspirational" and Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis described him as "a brilliant writer".Ken Loach wrote "he loved language and his ear for dialect and its comedy was pitch perfect."
Hines married twice, and is survived by two children from his first marriage.
After spending much of his later life in Sheffield, he returned to a care home in his home village of Hoyland Common after a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. He died on 18 March 2016 at the age of 76.
Threads is a 1984 British apocalyptic war drama television film jointly produced by the BBC, Nine Network and Western-World Television Inc. Written by Barry Hines and directed and produced by Mick Jackson, it is a dramatic account of nuclear war and its effects on the city of Sheffield in Northern England. The plot centres on two families as a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union erupts. As the nuclear exchange between NATO and the Warsaw Pact begins, the film depicts the medical, economic, social and environmental consequences of nuclear war.
The Yorkshire dialect is an English dialect of Northern England spoken in the English county of Yorkshire. The dialect has roots in older languages such as Old English and Old Norse. The Yorkshire Dialect Society exists to promote use of the dialect in both humour and in serious linguistics; there is also an East Riding Dialect Society.
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The Wednesday Play is an anthology series of British television plays which ran on BBC1 for six seasons from October 1964 to May 1970. The plays were usually written for television, although adaptations from other sources also featured. The series gained a reputation for presenting contemporary social dramas, and for bringing issues to the attention of a mass audience that would not otherwise have been discussed on screen.
Kes is a 1969 British drama film directed by Ken Loach and produced by Tony Garnett. The film is based on the 1968 novel A Kestrel for a Knave, written by the Hoyland Nether-born author Barry Hines. The film is ranked seventh in the British Film Institute's Top Ten (British) Films. This is Loach's second feature film for cinema release.
Looks and Smiles is a 1981 British drama film directed by Ken Loach. It is based on the novel of the same name, written by Barry Hines. The film was entered into the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, where Loach won the Young Cinema Award.
Tony Garnett was a British film and television producer, and actor. Best known for his thirteen-year association with director Ken Loach, his work as a producer continued into the 21st century.
A Kestrel for a Knave is a novel by English author Barry Hines, published in 1968. Set in an unspecified mining area in Northern England, the book follows Billy Casper, a young working-class boy troubled at home and at school, who finds and trains a kestrel whom he names "Kes".
The Price of Coal is a two-part television drama written by Barry Hines and directed by Ken Loach first broadcast as part of the Play for Today series in 1977. Set at the fictional Milton Colliery, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, the episodes contrast "efforts made to cosmetically improve the pit in preparation for a royal visit and the target-conscious safety shortcuts that precipitate a fatal accident ".
Duggie Brown is an English comedian and actor. He is the brother of actress and singer Lynne Perrie.
David "Dai" Bradley is an English actor who became well known for his first time role of Billy Casper in the critically acclaimed 1969 film Kes, directed by Ken Loach.
Robert William - "Bob" - Bowes was an English actor and teacher.
The Gamekeeper is a 1980 British drama film directed by Ken Loach. It is based on a novel of the same name by Barry Hines. It competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival. As with Barry Hines's other scripts, most of the dialogue is in Yorkshire dialect.
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Up the Junction is an episode of the BBC anthology drama series The Wednesday Play directed by Ken Loach, produced by James MacTaggart, and first broadcast on 3 November 1965 on BBC 1. The play was adapted by Nell Dunn and (uncredited) Ken Loach from Dunn's short story collection of the same name. It tells the stories of three young women living in North Battersea and Clapham and, to a lesser degree, their boyfriends.
In Two Minds is a television play by David Mercer commissioned for The Wednesday Play anthology drama series. First transmitted on 1 March 1967, it was directed by Ken Loach and produced by Tony Garnett and features Anna Cropper in the lead role.
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|url=missing title (help). Greg Davies: Looking for Kes. BBC. 19 November 2019.
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