Barnes, Peter 1931-2004

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BARNES, Peter 1931-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born January 10, 1931, in London, England; died from a heart attack July 1, 2004, in London, England. Director and author. Barnes was a playwright, screenwriter, and director best known for his satires and black comedies, especially his 1968 play, The Ruling Class: A Baroque Comedy. After serving in the Royal Air Force from 1949 to 1950, Barnes worked for the London County Council until 1953. However, he soon managed to abandon this tedious job for a script editing position at Warwick Film Productions in London. By the 1960s he was writing plays. After getting a couple of short plays produced in 1963, his breakthrough success came with the mordant comedy The Ruling Class, which was produced in Nottingham in 1968 and later adapted as a successful 1972 film starring Peter O'Toole. Barnes's play won the John Whiting Playwrights Award and the London Evening Standard Best Drama award for most promising playwright. This was followed by such plays as Leonardo's Last Supper (1969), The Bewitched (1974), and several adaptations of plays by such authors as Ben Jonson; Barnes also served as director for many of these works. After producing the 1978 flop Laughter! Barnes did not fully recover his satirical edge until 1985's Red Noses. Though he loved the theater best, the playwright actually did better financially when he wrote for television and the cinema. He drew particular acclaim for his Nobody Here but Us Chickens (1989), which won the Royal Television Society Award for best TV drama, Enchanted April (1992), an adaptation of the Elizabeth von Armin novel that earned an Academy Award nomination, and the American television movie Merlin (1998). Other notable adaptations by Barnes included a 1994 version of Charles Dickens' Hard Times and a 1999 version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Barnes continued to write plays throughout his life, including the more recent Dreaming (1999) and Jubilee (2001). Just before he died he had completed two new screenplays, one, Babies, based on his own experience in becoming a father late in life. He continued to rack up honors until the end, too, including a 2000 Emmy Award nomination.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Independent (London, England), July 5, 2004, p. 32.

Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2004, p. B11.

New York Times, July 3, 2004, p. A13.

Times (London, England), July 5, 2004, p. 24.

Washington Post, July 5, 2004, p. B5.

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Barnes, Peter 1931-2004

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Barnes, Peter 1931-2004