Keeffe’s agent, Stephen Durbridge of The Agency, confirmed the news and said that his client had died in London following a short illness.
Keeffe started out as an actor and journalist, then became a self-professed political writer. His theater work included plays such as “Frozen Assets” for the Royal Shakespeare Company, about a young man who kills a prison officer, and “Sus,” about institutionalized police racism. The latter was adapted as a movie in 2010 with Clint Dyer and Rafe Spall, and with Robert Heath directing from Keeffe’s screenplay.
Keeffe was best known for having penned the original screenplay for “The Long Good Friday,” which starred Bob Hoskins alongside Mirren. It was a breakthrough film for Mirren, and will be screened as part of a tribute to her in February at the the Berlin Film Festival, where she will receive a lifetime achievement award.
The London-born Keeffe was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s writer-in-residence in 1978. In the 1970s and 1980s, his film, TV and theater work included “Chorus Girls,” a musical he wrote with the Kinks frontman Ray Davies, and “Nipper,” “Champions,” and “Waterloo Sunset” for the BBC. He was writing radio and stage plays into much later in his career. He also published two novels: “Gadabout” and “No Excuses.”
The writer and dramatist was married twice. He had two sons, Sam and Tom, with his first wife, the novelist and theater producer Verity Bargate. He later married film and television producer Jacky Stoller.