Steve J. Spears i(71 works by)
Born: Established: 22 Jan 1951 Adelaide, South Australia, ; Died: Ceased: 16 Oct 2007 Adelaide, South Australia,
Gender: Male
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Once described as one of the most iconoclastic, acerbic, empathetic, brutal writers that the New Wave threw up in the early '70s, Steve J. Spears was raised in Mile End, an inner suburb of Adelaide, South Australia ('Notes on the Writer'). After completing his secondary education. he studied law at the University of Adelaide and became involved in several university revues. In addition to performing, he also wrote scripts, and for a time collaborated with fellow student and later playwright Rob George. Spears later abandoned his law degree in order to work in the theatre.

By the age of 25, Spears had written Stud (a rock musical); Africa: A Savage Musical (a vaudeville show); The Resuscitation of the Little Prince Who Couldn't Laugh as Performed by Young Mo at the Height of the Great Depression of 1929 (play with music); and his most successful work, The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin (monologue). Over the years, the latter has toured Australia and been performed in London and San Francisco, on off-Broadway, and in South America.

Spears eventually moved to Sydney and continued to write plays for the theatre and radio and documentaries. He acted in films and on stage and was a founding member of the Balmain Boys cabaret troupe.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he also wrote scripts for television series, including soap operas (E Street, A Country Practice, and Neighbours), dramas (G.P. and Breakers), young-adult television (Heartbreak High), and sit-coms (All Together Now and Hey Dad!).

His most extensive body of television scripts, however, were produced for the Australian Children's Television Foundation (ACTF). He wrote both The Big Wish and Mr Edmund for the children's anthology program More Winners. The Big Wish (a fantasy about a fairy prince who has to give away wishes by a certain time, but doesn't care to reveal the hidden catch) won or was nominated for a number of awards: the Festival Award for Outstanding Humour at the Chicago International Children's Film Awards (1990); Children's Award: Narrative Section (highly commended) at the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) Awards (1991); and both Best Children's Television Drama (nomination) and Best Screenplay in a Television Drama (nomination) at the AFI Awards (1991). It was also selected for screening in the Children's Program category at the Banff Television Festival in Canada (1991). Mr Edmund was also nominated for Best Children's Television Drama at the 1991 AFI Awards.

Spears was also the impetus behind the ACTF's children's sit-com, The Genie from Down Under (1995). According to Patricia Edgar in her memoirs:

The Genie from Down Under was a $4.1-million co-production with the BBC that satirised the stereotypes that the United Kingdom and Australia see in each other in the context of the Republic debate. Steve Spears had come up with the germ of an idea that had nothing to do with the debate but it was adapted to inject the elements I wanted under Esben Storm's direction. The original idea, written for the ACTF by Steve Spears, was reshaped to meet the cast and story requirements. Jeremy Swan (the BBC script editor from Round the Twist) represented the BBC to work with Esben Storm, Steve and a team of writers to create The Genie from Down Under. (Bloodbath: A Memoir of Australian Television, Melbourne: Melbourne UP, 2006, p.445 (n.294).)

He also wrote the animated The Greatest Tune on Earth (1990) for the ACTF.

After becoming disillusioned with writing for television, Spears began writing crime fiction in the early 2000s from his new base in Umina on the New South Wales coast. He later moved back to South Australia, however, settling at Aldinga Beach. At his death in 2007 from cancer, he was working on the manuscript 'God's Diary.'

Awards for Works

Murder by Manuscript 2004 single work novel crime satire
2005 shortlisted Ned Kelly Awards for Crime Writing Best Novel
All Together Now 1991-1993 series - publisher film/TV humour

A rocker whose glory days were twenty years earlier in the 1970s unexpectedly finds that he has twin children when their mother dies in a plane crash and they and their carer move in with him.

1992 nominated Logie Awards Most Popular Light Entertainment Program
The Big Wish 1990 single work film/TV children's young adult fantasy humour

'Prince Wilton from the Enchanted Realm of the Faeries has been sent to Earth to dispose of seven wishes in the human world before sundown. If Prince Wilton doesn't give away these wishes, the Faeries will lose their powers. Fortunately he meets Christopher Walter Pratt (C.W.) who believes in him and his wishes. C.W doesn't realise, however, that the last wish lasts forever.'

Source: Australian Television Information Archive ( Sighted: 10/11/2011

1991 nominated Australian Film Institute Awards Best Children's Television Drama
1991 nominated Australian Film Institute Awards Best Screenplay in a Television Drama
1991 nominated Australian Film Institute Awards The Cameraquip Award for Best Achievement in Direction in a Television Drama
Last amended 6 Sep 2012
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