John Hopkins (writer)

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John Hopkins
Born John Ricard Hopkins
(1931-01-27)27 January 1931
London, England, United Kingdom
Died 23 July 1998(1998-07-23) (aged 67)
Woodland Hills, California, United States
Nationality British
Other names John R. Hopkins
Occupation Writer
Years active 1957–1995
Spouse(s) Shirley Knight (1969–1998)
Children 1

John Richard Hopkins (sometimes credited as John R. Hopkins; 27 January 1931 – 23 July 1998) was a British film, stage, and television writer.


Born in southwest London, Hopkins was educated at Raynes Park County Grammar School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge.[1] He began his career as a studio manager for BBC Television in the 1950s, before establishing himself as a writer on the BBC's popular police drama Z-Cars during the early 1960s. Hopkins eventually wrote over ninety episodes of Z-Cars, one of which featured young actress Judi Dench in the role of a delinquent youngster. This character inspired Hopkins to write what is probably his best remembered work for the small screen, the four-part play sequence Talking to a Stranger (1966). Starring Dench and transmitted as part of BBC2's Theatre 625 anthology series, the plays told the story of one bleak weekend from the viewpoints of four members of the same family. Two Wednesday Plays from this period by Hopkins were Fable from January 1965[2] and Horror of Darkness broadcast the following March.[3] The former imagines an inverted South African apartheid in Britain[2] while the later is a rare exploration of homosexuality in the 1960s.[4]

His plays for the stage included Next of Kin, which was produced at London's National Theatre in 1974 with Harold Pinter directing.[5][6]

In film, Hopkins provided finishing touches to the screenplay for the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball, and also worked on the script for the 1972 film adaptation of Man of La Mancha, although he was removed from this project by United Artists when they discovered that his draft omitted most of the songs from the musical. In 1968, his stage play This Story of Yours opened, impressing actor Sean Connery so much that he chose it as a personal film project under the working title Something Like the Truth. Connery also acted in the film version, directed by Sidney Lumet and released in 1972 as The Offence.

His later television work includes the Play for Today A Story to Frighten the Children (1976), and the adaptation of John le Carré's novel Smiley's People (1982), starring Alec Guinness, both for the BBC; and the Cold War espionage thriller Codename: Kyril (1988) for ITV.

Hopkins died at his home in Woodland Hills, California, United States, in July 1998, following an accident in which he slipped, hit his head and fell unconscious into his swimming pool, where he drowned.


In 1954, Hopkins married Prudence Ann Balchin, a daughter of author Nigel Balchin. In 1969 he married the American actress Shirley Knight.


  1. ^ The same college as the director Terence Young.
  2. ^ a b Mark Duguid "Fable (1965), BFI screenonline
  3. ^ Tise Vahimagi Horror of Darkness (1965), BFI screenonline
  4. ^ Brown, Mark (16 March 2013). "Newly unearthed ITV play could be first ever gay television drama". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ Next of Kin by John Hopkins, The National Theatre, 1974 at
  6. ^ Otis L. Guernsey, The Best plays of 1973–1974 (Dodd, Mead, 1974), p. 108.

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