Alun Owen (24 November 1925 – 6 December 1994) was a British screenwriter, predominantly active in television, but best remembered by a wider audience for writing the screenplay of The Beatles' debut feature film A Hard Day's Night (1964).
Owen was born in Menai Bridge, Wales, but grew up in the English city of Liverpool, where his family moved when he was eight years old. After a short career with the Merchant Navy, for two years Owen worked down a coal mine as a 'Bevin Boy', before moving into repertory theatre as an assistant stage manager. From there he moved into acting, first with the Birmingham Repertory Company and then various other companies, appearing in small roles in films and to a greater degree in the newer medium of television during the 1950s.
By the late 1950s, however, Owen was beginning to realise that his real ambitions lay in writing rather than performing, and he began to submit scripts to BBC Radio. His first full-length play, Progress to the Park, was produced by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East following its radio debut, and later in the West End. A second play, titled The Rough and Ready Lot, was adapted for television by the BBC in September 1959.
His next play was his first to be written directly for television. Titled No Trams to Lime Street (1959), the Liverpool-set piece was presented in ABC Television's Armchair Theatre anthology strand, for which Owen continued to write plays into the 1960s. He also made his feature film scriptwriting debut in 1960, penning The Criminal from a storyline originally by Jimmy Sangster.
In 1964, when director Richard Lester was hired to direct The Beatles' first film, he remembered Owen from their previous work together on Lester's ITV television programme The Dick Lester Show in 1955. The Beatles were also keen on Owen, having been impressed with his depiction of Liverpool in No Trams to Lime Street, and Owen spent some time associating with the four band members to gain an ear for their characters and manners of speech. His resulting script for A Hard Day's Night earned him a nomination for the 1965 Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay. In the same year, Owen contributed the libretto for a West End musical, composer Lionel Bart's Maggie May. The show ran for a respectable 501 performances at London's Adelphi Theatre.
Television continued to be his main medium, however, and he concentrated on single plays in anthology series such as BBC2's Theatre 625. An episode of ITV's Saturday Night Theatre, three linked plays under the title "The Male of the Species" (1969) featured Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Paul Scofield, and Laurence Olivier as the narrator. His 1974 play Lucky was a rare television representation of Britain's new multicultural reality and described a young black man's (Paul Barber), search for identity. He carried on writing for television through the 1970s and 80s, with his final produced work being an adaptation of R. F. Delderfield's novel Come Home, Charlie, and Face Them for ITV in 1990.
He died in London in 1994 at the age of 69.
A festival was held in his honour from 19 October–21 October 2006 in Liverpool, arranged by the Merseyside Welsh Heritage Society. A lecture in English on Owen and the Liverpool Welsh was delivered by Dr D. Ben Rees, Chairman of the Society, and in Welsh by Dr Arthur Thomas of University of Liverpool on his life and work. These lectures were published in book form in 2007.
- Vahimagi, Tise. Owen, Alun (1925-1994). British Film Institute Screenonline website. URL accessed February 7, 2006.