Robert Banks Stewart

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Robert Banks Stewart
Born(1931-07-16)16 July 1931
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died14 January 2016(2016-01-14) (aged 84)
Other namesRobert Stewart
OccupationTelevision writer and producer
Known forBBC and ITV drama

Robert Banks Stewart (16 July 1931 – 14 January 2016)[1] was a Scottish screenwriter, television producer and former journalist. He was sometimes credited as Robert Stewart early in his career. Banks Stewart contributed extensively to drama for the BBC and ITV for several decades, which included creating and producing the series Shoestring (1979) and Bergerac (1981) and producing the first series of Lovejoy (1986). He also produced and co-adapted the early episodes of The Darling Buds of May (1991).[2]


Born in Edinburgh, Banks Stewart did national service in the British Army[3] and began writing as a journalist, working for his home 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,[4] 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[5] he contributed scripts to the programmes Callan,[6] Special Branch, The Sweeney and Owner Occupied. For HTV, he wrote five episodes of Arthur of the Britons. Banks Stewart wrote two popular serials for the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who when it starred Tom Baker: Terror of the Zygons (1975) (which was set in his native Scotland and drew on the Loch Ness Monster legend)[6] and The Seeds of Doom (1976)[4] (which was influenced by classic science-fiction such as The Day of the Triffids, The Quatermass Experiment and The Thing from Another World). A third story, The Foe from the Future, was considered but ultimately cancelled as Stewart became unavailable, but Robert Holmes wrote The Talons of Weng Chiang (1977) from the idea by Robert Banks Stewart, who received no on-screen credit.[7] An audio adaptation of The Foe from the Future was released in 2012 by Big Finish Productions.

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 (1981–91).[1] 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,[4] 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. His memoir of working in the television industry, To Put You in the Picture, was published in 2015.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He had three sons, Alex Hanson Stewart, Andy Stewart and Angus Stewart.[citation needed]


On 14 January 2016, Robert Banks Stewart died of cancer at the age of 84.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Robert Banks Stewart obituary". 15 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Robert Banks Stewart". The Stewart Society. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Robert Banks Stewart, TV writer". The Scotsman. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Morgan Jeffery (15 January 2016). "Robert Banks Stewart - creator of Bergerac and fan-favourite Doctor Who writer - dies, aged 84". Digital Spy.
  5. ^ Slide, Anthony; Some Joe You Don't Know: An American Biographical Guide to 100 British Television Personalities, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996, p.3, ISBN 9780313295508
  6. ^ a b "Bergerac writer Robert Banks Stewart dies aged 84". BBC News. 15 January 2016.
  7. ^ "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". BBC Online.
  8. ^ "Bergerac and Shoestring creator Robert Banks Stewart dies aged 84". Belfasttelegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2016.

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