Alun Owen

Alun Davies Owen (24 November 1925 – 6 December 1994) was a Welsh screenwriter and actor predominantly active in television. However, he is best remembered by a wider audience for writing the screenplay of The Beatles' debut feature film A Hard Day's Night (1964), which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Alun Owen
BornAlun Davies Owen
(1925-11-24)24 November 1925
Menai Bridge, Wales
Died6 December 1994(1994-12-06) (aged 69)
London, England
OccupationScreenwriter & Actor
Years active1959–1990


Owen was born in Liverpool. His father, Sidney Owen, was a Welshman from Dolgellau, North Wales, and his mother, Ruth, was from Holyhead, but of Irish descent. Alun Owen attended St Michael in the Hamlet Anglican Primary School and Oulton High School. For two years during the Second World War, he worked in a coal mine as a "Bevin Boy", before moving into repertory theatre as an assistant stage manager. From there he moved into acting, first with the Birmingham Repertory Company and then various other companies, appearing in small roles in films and to a greater degree in the newer medium of television during the 1950s.

By the late 1950s, however, Owen was beginning to realise that his real ambitions lay in writing rather than performing, and he began to submit scripts to BBC Radio. His first full-length play, Progress to the Park, was produced by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East following its radio debut, and later in the West End.

A second play, The Rough and Ready Lot, received its stage debut on 1 June 1959 in a production by the 59 Theatre Company at the Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith directed by Caspar Wrede and with a cast including Ronald Harwood, June Brown, Jack MacGowran, Patrick Allen, and Alan Dobie.[1] It was adapted for television by Charles Lawrence and broadcast by the BBC in September 1959 with the original cast, having previously been heard on the Third Programme.[2]

His next play was his first to be written directly for television. Titled No Trams to Lime Street (1959), the Liverpool-set piece was presented in ABC Television's Armchair Theatre anthology strand, for which Owen continued to write plays into the 1960s. He also made his feature film scriptwriting debut in 1960, penning The Criminal from a storyline originally by Jimmy Sangster.

In 1961, Owen won both the Guild of Television Producers and Directors' Writer's Award and Scriptwriter's Award.[3][4]

In 1964, when director Richard Lester was hired to direct The Beatles' first film, he remembered Owen from their previous work together on Lester's ITV television programme The Dick Lester Show in 1955. The Beatles were keen on Owen, impressed with his depiction of Liverpool in "No Trams to Lime Street"; Owen spent some time associating with the band's four members to gain an ear for their characters and manners of speech. His resulting script for A Hard Day's Night earned him a nomination for the 1965 Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay. In the same year, Owen contributed the libretto for a West End musical, composer Lionel Bart's Maggie May. The show ran for 501 performances at London's Adelphi Theatre.

Television continued to be his main medium, however, and he concentrated on single plays in anthology series such as BBC2's Theatre 625. An episode of ITV's Saturday Night Theatre, three linked plays under the title "The Male of the Species" (1969).

His 1974 play Lucky was a rare television representation of Britain's new multicultural reality and described a young black man's (Paul Barber), search for identity. He carried on writing for television through the 1970s and 1980s, with his final produced work being an adaptation of R. F. Delderfield's novel Come Home, Charlie, and Face Them for ITV in 1990.


Owen died in London in 6 December 1994 at the age of 69.


A festival was held in Owen's honour from 19–21 October 2006 in Liverpool, arranged by the Merseyside Welsh Heritage Society. A lecture in English on Owen and the Liverpool Welsh was delivered by Dr D. Ben Rees, Chairman of the Society, and in Welsh by Dr Arthur Thomas of University of Liverpool on his life and work. These lectures were published in book form in 2007.

Writing credits

Production Notes Broadcaster
The Rough and Ready Lot
  • Stage play and television film (1959)
Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith; BBC1
The Criminal
  • Feature film (1960)
BBC Sunday-Night Play
  • "The Ruffians" (1960)
Thirty-Minute Theatre
  • "Dare to Be Daniel" (1962)
Armchair Theatre
  • "No Trams to Lime Street" (1959)
  • "After the Funeral" (1960)
  • "Lena, O My Lena" (1960)
  • "The Way of Love" (1961)
  • "The Rose Affair" (1961)
  • "The Hard Knock" (1962)
Corrigan Blake
  • "You Can't Win Them All" (1962)
  • "Let's Go Home" (1963)
  • "The Removal Men" (1963)
  • "The Scientific Approach" (1963)
  • "The Liberty Takers" (1963)
  • "Lady Bird" (1963)
  • "Love Bird" (1963)
You Can't Win 'Em All
  • Television film (1962)
  • "You Can't Win 'Em All" (1963)
The Stag
  • Television film (1963)
First Night
  • "The Strain" (1963)
  • "A Local Boy" (1963)
A Hard Day's Night
  • Feature film (1964)
A Local Boy
  • Television film (1964)
Theatre 625
  • "No Trams to Lime Street" (1965)
  • "A Little Winter Love" (1965)
  • "The Loser" (1967)
  • "The Winner" (1967)
  • "The Fantasist" (1967)
Thirty-Minute Theatre
  • "The Other Fella" (1966)
  • "The Wake" (1967)
The Ronnie Barker Playhouse
  • "Tennyson" (1968)
  • "Ah, There You Are" (1968)
  • "Alexander" (1968)
Half Hour Story
  • "Shelter" (1967)
  • "George's Room" (1967)
  • "Stella" (1968)
  • "Thief" (1968)
For Amusement Only
  • "Time for the Funny Walk" (1968)
The Company of Five
  • "Gareth" (1968)
Male of the Species
  • Television film (1969)
Hark at Barker
  • 15 episodes (1969–1970)
Plays of Today
  • "The Ladies: Doreen" (1969)
  • "The Ladies: Joan" (1969)
The Wednesday Play
  • "Charlie" (1968)
  • "No Trams to Lime Street" (1970)
ITV Sunday Night Theatre
  • "Park People" (1969)
  • "MacNeil" (1969)
  • "Cornelius" (1969)
  • "Emlyn" (1969)
  • "Giants and Ogres" (1971)
  • "The Web" (1972)
  • "The Piano Player" (1972)
The Ten Commandments
  • "Hilda" (1971)
Play for Today
  • "Pal" (1971)
ITV Playhouse
  • "Funny" (1971)
  • "Lucky" (1974)
  • "Norma" (1974)
ITV Sunday Night Drama
  • "The Web" (1972)
  • "Forget -Me- Knot" (1976)
  • Television film (1972)
Once Upon a Time
  • "Buttons" (1973)
Forget Me Not
  • 6 episodes (1976)
The Look
  • Television film (1978)
Do You Remember?
  • "Park People" (1978)
Kisch Kisch
  • Television film (1983)
The Play on One
  • "Unexplained Laughter" (1989)
Come Home, Charlie, and Face Them
  • Television miniseries (1990)

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1962 WGGB Awards Best Original Teleplay
Armchair Theatre
1965 Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay
A Hard Day's Night



  1. Owen, Alun (1960). The Rough and Ready Lot: A play in Three Acts. Cover design by Elisabeth Frink (First ed.). London, UK: Encore Publishing Co. Ltd. p. 4.
  2. Staff (18 September 1959), "The Rough and Ready Lot", Radio Times, London, UK (1871), p. 19, retrieved 6 April 2016
  3. Staff. "Television Writers Award in 1961". BAFTA. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  4. Staff. "Television Scriptwriter in 1961". BAFTA. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
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