John Dighton

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John Gervase Dighton [1] (8 December 1909 [1] 16 April 1989) was a British playwright and screenwriter.


Dighton was born in London to Basil Lewis Dighton, of West Kensington, an antiques dealer, author and poet, and his wife Beatrice Mary (née Franks). [2] [3] He was educated at Charterhouse School and Caius College, Cambridge. [2]

His output during the 1940s included the last starring features of comedian Will Hay, and several George Formby films as well as the 1947 adaptation of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby , and the 1943 war movie Undercover starring John Clements and Michael Wilding.

In 1947, Dighton wrote his first play for the theatre, The Happiest Days of Your Life , which ran in the West End for more than 600 performances in 1948 and 1949. [4] For Ealing Studios, he collaborated on the screenplays of such comedies as Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and The Man in the White Suit (1952), sharing an Academy Award nomination for the latter. He gained a second nomination for the American-financed Roman Holiday (1953).

Two of his stage plays, The Happiest Days of Your Life and Who Goes There! (known as The Passionate Sentry in the USA), were successfully adapted for the screen by Dighton himself, the former in collaboration with Frank Launder. He also wrote the 1955 comedy play Man Alive! that transferred to the West End the following year with Robertson Hare in the lead. He adapted the play Summer of the Seventeenth Doll . [5]

His final screen credit was his adaptation of Shaw's The Devil's Disciple , written in collaboration with Roland Kibbee.

Dighton married Kathleen Marie Philipps in 1934. [2]

Partial filmography as screenwriter

Selected plays

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<i>The Happiest Days of Your Life</i> (play)

The Happiest Days of Your Life is a farce by the English playwright John Dighton. It depicts the complications that ensue when because of a bureaucratic error a girls' school is made to share premises with a boys' school. The title of the play echoes the old saying that schooldays are "the happiest days of our lives".


  1. 1 2 Collections: "John Dighton" British Film Institute. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 Who's Who in the Theatre, ed. Ian Herbert, Pitman, 1977, p. 552
  3. Collections: "Basil Dighton" The British Museum. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  4. Gaye, pp. 542 and 1532
  5. Vagg, Stephen (29 September 2019). "Ten Stories About Australian Screenwriters You Might Not Know". Filmink.