Educated at Knox Grammar School in Wahroonga, New South Wales, Richard Lane went on to establish a career as one of Australia's most prodigious and experienced scriptwriters for television and radio. Lane displayed an early ability to write, and soon after leaving school he had several short stories published in magazines. He began writing plays for radio during the 1930s and one of his best-known scripts, 'The Remittance Man' (1937), was a product of this period.
From 1942 to 1950 he worked as a (chief) writer and producer with Macquarie Broadcasting. The years with Macquarie proved to be 'rewarding', providing Lane with many scriptwriting opportunities which included (co-)writing numerous (serialised) plays and book adaptations. Lane began freelancing in 1951, and working as a writer, producer and director he subsequently established connections with 'most of Sydney's radio production units'. Throughout Lane's early career scripted adaptations of classic novels were an important component of radio broadcasts. Lane was 'widely known' for his work as an adaptor having serialised such works as Rebecca and Goodbye, Mr Chips, as well as iconic Australian novels such as The Shiralee, Robbery Under Arms and On the Beach.
Writing the script for Autumn Affair in 1958, Lane was credited with being the author of Australia's 'first locally-written and produced television serial'. From this point he continued to gain experience as a scriptwriter/editor for television. In 1967 he wrote the serialised television adaptation of Jon Cleary's (q.v.) 1947 novel, You Can't See Round Corners; Lane later reworked the original script to produce the feature film's screenplay. His extensive output during the 1960s-1970s included writing episodes of Homicide and The Sullivans for Crawford Productions, working on the ATN7 serial Motel, scriptwriting/editing for ABC Television's Bellbird and Twenty Good Years, as well as the Grundy Organisation's The Young Doctors.
Lane was one of the founders of the Australian Writers Guild and in 1988 he received a special award 'for long-standing service and dedication to the Guild'. This ongoing award has since been known as the Richard Lane Award.
A drama series set during the height of the Vietnam War, YouCan't See Round Corners revolves around Frankie McCoy, a lonely, somewhat aggressive non-conformist who has spent all his life living in the inner-city suburb of Newtown. As the series progresses, McCoy is called up for National Service and although he initially fulfils his duty, he later deserts and heads back home to hide with friends. Other main characters include his girlfriend Margie and enemy Terry Howlett, the twenty-year-old leader of a small gang of thugs.
The television adaptation was contemporised by producer John Walters and screenwriter Richard Lane. Cleary's original novel is set in the Sydney suburb of Paddington during World War II. After deciding to bring the temporal setting forward to the (then) current Vietnam era, they also had to change the physical setting. Although Paddington had been a working-class suburb in the 1940s, the demographic had changed considerably by the 1960s. Newtown was subsequently considered the most appropriate location for a narrative set in a working-class suburb. Richard Lane records in Take One (1972) that he and Walters also deliberately introduced other contemporary issues into the narrative, notably the inclusion of the Greek community, which by the late 1960s had had an enormous impact on the Newtown district (p. 52).