James MacTaggart

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James MacTaggart (25 April 1928 – 29 May 1974) was a Scottish-born television producer, director and writer.

After an initial career as an actor, MacTaggart worked for BBC Radio in Scotland before moving into television, relocating to London around 1961.[1] MacTaggart aimed to break down the use of naturalism in television drama: "We were going to destroy naturalism", his colleague scriptwriter Troy Kennedy Martin once said, "if possible, before Christmas".[1]

After his involvement with such series as Storyboard (1961), wholly written by Kennedy Martin, and Studio 4 (1962), MacTaggart was given the responsibility of producing the second season of The Wednesday Play. The Head of BBC Drama Sydney Newman later credited him with the series success. MacTaggart directed later productions during the anthology series' run and also instalments in its successor, Play for Today.

He joined Kestrel Productions, set up by Kenith Trodd, Tony Garnett and Ken Loach, which had an arrangement with the new ITV contractor London Weekend Television, and directed Dennis Potter's Moonlight on the Highway (1969), with Ian Holm in the play's leading role, and Simon Gray's Pig in the Poke (also 1969). The company's initial burst of activity was short-lived, and MacTaggart freelanced. His only feature film All the Way Up was released in 1970.

James MacTaggart died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1974 shortly after finishing Robinson Crusoe (1974).[2] A lecture in his memory is delivered annually at the Edinburgh International Television Festival each August.[3]


  1. ^ a b Oliver Wake "MacTaggart, James (1928-74)", BFI screenonline website
  2. ^ "A spirited "Crusoe" was tough for star.". The Australian Women's Weekly (National Library of Australia). 1 January 1975. p. 10. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Matt Wells "Who was James MacTaggart?" The Guardian, 22 August 2005.

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