Television dramatist Leigh Jackson died of cancer March 27 in Bampton, England. He was 52.
His recent original telepic “Warriors” (1999), took eight awards including the Prix Italia. It told the story of British soldiers among United Nations peacekeeping troops in the Balkans, and their frustrations and horror at witnessing atrocities while lacking authority to prevent them, due to UN rules of engagement. Project earned Jackson and director Peter Kominsky carte blanche for their next telepic, “The Project” (2002), which concerned the disillusionment of young idealists in politics.
Born in London, Jackson was brought up in Bampton, Devon, and studied politics and economics at Manchester U.
He joined a London-based Theater in Education company as a stage manager and switched to writing after his unsolicited script was accepted by the Royal Court Theater. His plays “Eclipse” (1978) and “Reggae Britannia” (1979) were both performed there.
This led him to write dramas for BBC radio and become script editor of the television children’s serial “Grange Hill,” taking over the job from Anthony Minghella. For television, he wrote the BBC’s comedy drama “Drowning in the Shallow End” (1990), about a scriptwriter with marriage problems on the verge of a nervous breakdown; and the three-part “Downtown Lagos” (1992), the tale of a stuffy solicitor who leads a “Billy Liar”-type existence.
More recently, he adapted Joanna Trollope’s novel “Other People’s Children” (2000), examining the effects of divorce on parents, children and step-parents.
At the time of his death, Jackson was working on an adaptation of William Golding’s sea trilogy “To the Ends of the Earth,” about a young English aristocrat on a voyage of discovery to Australia.
He is survived by a son and a daughter.