Robert Banks Stewart

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Robert Banks Stewart
Born (1931-07-16) 16 July 1931 (age 83)
Occupation television writer

Robert Banks Stewart (born 16 July 1931) is a Scottish writer for television in the UK, now retired, who was sometimes credited as Robert Stewart early in his career. Banks Stewart contributed extensively to drama for the BBC and ITV for several decades.

Born in Edinburgh, he began writing as a journalist, working for the city's evening newspapers, where he became the youngest news editor in history for the Evening Dispatch. Even then, he used to discuss ideas for television series. Later he became a story editor at Pinewood Studios. Working as a scriptwriter from the end of the 1950s, he worked on such TV series as Danger Man, The Human Jungle, Top Secret and The Avengers ("The Master Minds" and "Quick-Quick Slow Death"). He also contributed a few scripts to the Edgar Wallace Mysteries series of second-features for the cinema.

Working for Thames Television[1] he contributed scripts to the programmes Callan, Special Branch, The Sweeney and Owner Occupied. For HTV, he wrote 5 episodes of Arthur of the Britons. Banks Stewart wrote two highly regarded serials for the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons (1975) (which was set in his native Scotland and drew on the Loch Ness Monster legend) and The Seeds of Doom (1976) (which was influenced by classic science-fiction such as The Day of the Triffids, The Quatermass Experiment and The Thing from Another World).

Banks Stewart continued working in television as a writer, script editor and producer, creating Shoestring (1979–80), which ran for two series on the BBC and following this up with the Jersey set detective drama series Bergerac (1981–89). He later produced Hannay (5 episodes, 1988), The Darling Buds of May (4 episodes), Lovejoy (10 episodes) and Call Me Mister. His final credit for television was for the adaptation of My Uncle Silas (2001–03) starring Albert Finney.

At the age of 81, Banks Stewart published his first novel – a thriller entitled The Hurricane's Tail, featuring a British detective called Detective Sergeant Harper Buchanan who uncovers a political plot against the prime minister of a Caribbean island. It was originally envisaged as a two-part TV series, but Banks Stewart said he decided to turn it into a novel after "getting nowhere" with TV executives, which he attributed to ageism.[2]

Banks Stewart said: "I always intended Detective Sergeant Harper Buchanan, the main character of my novel, to be the lead character in a TV series, but pitching to various BBC executives in my late-70s was like talking to a brick wall.

"Based on my experience I would say ageism is, unfortunately, common in the TV industry. It seems that if you're over 70 then TV chiefs take it as read that you are too long in the tooth for today's audiences and can't possibly have come up with a possible winner.

"I've never written a novel before – never had the need to – but in the end it was the only way to make sure my thriller reached the public."[2]


  1. ^ p.3 Slide, Anthony Some Joe You Don't Know: An American Biographical Guide to 100 British Television Personalities Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996
  2. ^ a b "Press release". Kaleidoscope Publishing. n.d. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 

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