Stephen Mallatratt

Television writer who scripted a West End classic

An inspired adaptation of a ghost story brought the actor-writer Stephen Mallatratt's name to the West End with a production that outlived both him and every other show in London, apart from
The Mousetrap.

Nigel Stephen Mallatratt, actor and writer: born London 15 June 1947; (one daughter with Eileen O'Brien), married 1996 Emma London; died Bristol 22 November 2004.

An inspired adaptation of a ghost story brought the actor-writer Stephen Mallatratt's name to the West End with a production that outlived both him and every other show in London, apart from The Mousetrap.

Susan Hill's 1983 novel The Woman in Black told the tale of a solicitor, Arthur Kipps, who travels north to wind up the estate of the late Mrs Drablow, who had lived reclusively in a remote house. After seeing a ghostly figure at the funeral, he is obsessed with the idea that he is cursed and employs a young actor to help him to prepare a performance of his experiences for his family and friends, in an attempt to exorcise the ghosts of the past.

Mallatratt turned this simple story into an atmospheric chiller that has gripped audiences at the Fortune Theatre in Covent Garden for the past 15 years. It originally opened in 1987 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, in Scarborough, where Mallatratt had enjoyed a long association with the writer-director Alan Ayckbourn, and transferred to the West End two years later, first at the Strand Theatre, then the Playhouse, before moving to the Fortune.

Born in Mill Hill, north London, in 1947, Mallatratt fell in love with the stage after visits as a child to the Watford Palace Theatre and he gained acting experience with local amateur dramatics companies. On leaving school, he went into the building industry.

He eventually fulfilled his stage ambitions by studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama (1968-71) and joining the company at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. As an actor there, he took leading roles in the premieres of Alan Ayckbourn productions such as Absent Friends (as John, 1974), The Breadwinners (as Patrick, 1974), Confusions (1974) and Bedroom Farce (as Nick, 1975), as well as in plays by other writers.

Ayckbourn also gave him the chance to develop his own writing talents, and directed Mallatratt's plays An Englishman's Home (1975), The Chimes (1975) and Mother Country (1976) at the Library Theatre, Scarborough.

Mallatratt was cast on television as the vet John Stokes in Emmerdale (1980) and twice in Coronation Street, as Peter Hockley (1979), who snogged Suzie Birchall after Gail Potter's joint 21st and engagement party, and as Jeff Moffatt (1982), husband of Gail's friend Jackie.

Through his assocation in Scarborough with Mervyn Watson, who became the producer of Coronation Street, Mallatratt joined the serial's scriptwriting team (1985-96, 1999) and was responsible for 115 scripts, admired for his ability to write believable stories for well-developed characters.

In 1995, he recommended his friend the actor David Nielson for the role of Roy Cropper in the Street. The result was one of the progamme's greatest finds, the oddball character who fell for a transexual.

Mallatratt found his greatest success on screen only in his final couple of years, with two scripts for Granada Television dramas. First, he wrote the remake of The Forsyte Saga (2002), a sumptuous production of John Galsworthy's novels, which had once been a worldwide best-seller for the BBC. His triumph was to make the characters flesh and blood, in a way that costume drama rarely achieves on television.

Then, Mallatratt scripted Island at War (2004), one of the few dramatisations of the Channel Islands' experience of Nazi occupation during the Second World War, and he took the small role of the vicar in the series. "I thought it was a great, unexplored area of drama," he said.

Anthony Hayward

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all