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David Halliwell

For the English cricketer, see David Halliwell (cricketer).

David William Halliwell (31 July 1936, Brighouse, Yorkshire – c.16 March 2006, Charlbury, Oxfordshire)[1] was a British dramatist.

Halliwell attended Huddersfield College of Art (1953–59) as an art student, but was expelled for a time from the institution, and later switched to acting at RADA. In the early 1960s he worked as an actor in rep and was a stage manager at the Nottingham Playhouse for a time.[2]

His experiences at the Huddersfield College were the basis for his earliest produced and best remembered play, Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs. In this play Malcolm Scrawdyke, a Hitlerite figure, plots revenge against authority for his college expulsion by forming the Party of Dynamic Erection with his three acolytes.[1] "The Nazis made a big impression on people of my age", Halliwell recalled. "They almost destroyed Europe. But as well as being pretty threatening they were also seen as a laughing stock even during the war."[2] The play won Halliwell the Evening Standard's Most Promising Playwright Award in 1967.[3]

Malcolm's premier production at the Unity Theatre in 1965 was directed by Mike Leigh with Halliwell himself in the central role of Malcolm.[4] John Hurt featured as the character in a slightly later West End production and the feature film version (Little Malcolm, 1974). A successful revival in 1999 starred Ewan McGregor.[5]

In 1968 Halliwell jointly set up a company named Quipu which performed at various London theatres until 1973. Its stated aim reflected the radical politics of the time: "a new kind of organisation in which the means of production are owned, controlled and developed by the artists whose work is being produced".[4] Quipu, "the first lunchtime theatre club in London",[6] allowed the tryout of short plays. His later stage plays include Who's Who of Flapland (1967) and K.D. Dufford (1969).[7]

Halliwell researched the professional relationship of Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, both involved in the discovery of DNA, in the 1980s,[8] but his work was not completed, although the recordings of people he interviewed have been preserved.[8]

He contributed several television scripts to several of the BBC's anthology series, including Play for Today, and wrote (an unproduced serial) for Doctor Who.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Alan Strachan & Janet Street Porter Obituary: David Halliwell, The Independent, 5 April 2006
  2. 2.0 2.1 Obituary: David Halliwell, The Times, 21 March 2006
  3. Patrick Newley Obituary: David Halliwell", The Stage, 12 April 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 Michael Billington & Mike Leigh Obituary: David Halliwell, The Guardian, 22 March 2006
  5. "McGregor play opens in West End", BBC News, 22 January 1999
  6. John Elsom Post-war British Theatre, London: Routledtge, 1976, p.158
  7. Dan Rebellato "Halliwell, David [William]", in Colin Chambers The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre, London: Continuum, 2002 [2005], p.338
  8. 8.0 8.1 DNA King's College, London

External links

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