David Allen's writing career has incorporated radio, television, film and theatre, with his stage works having been in a number of countries, including Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United States.
Allen was educated at the University of Liverpool, where he completed an honours degree in English, before undertaking employment as a school teacher (1958-1966). Between 1966 and 1970 he worked as an Education Officer in Uganda. His interest in theatre saw him begin directing productions for the Ugandan National Theatre, and he later co-founded Theatre Ltd with African playwright Robert Serumaga. Upon returning to the United Kingdom in 1970 Allen studied directing under Hugh Hunt at the University of Manchester.
In 1972 Allen and his family moved to Australia where he took up the position of lecturer in drama at Adelaide's Salisbury College of Advanced Education (1972-1980). During the mid-to-late 1970s he set about creating a number of locally acclaimed music theatre and non-music theatre works, in addition to co-founding and directing Troupe (1976), an Adelaide-based alternative theatre company. Allen was appointed to the South Australian Theatre Company's Board of Governors in 1978, the same year that Gone with Hardy, his back-handed tribute to Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy), premiered at an Adelaide drama festival. The National Playwright's Conference then accepted the play for a workshop production. Before the end of that same year Gone with Hardy had been staged both by the Melbourne Theatre Company and by Sydney's Nimrod Theatre Company.
From 1980 onwards Allen became a full-time writer, one of his first works being the musical Buckley's (q.v., 1981) which he created in collaboration with Nick Enright, Ariette Taylor (qq.v.) and Glenn Henrich. Allen moved to Sydney in 1982 and two years later won both an Australian Writer's Guild AWGIE Award and a Green Room Award. In 1986 he was the recipient of the Victorian Premier's Award. In addition to writing for the theatre Allen has scripted episodes for some of Australia's most popular drama series, including A Country Practice (1982-85), Home and Away (1988), The Flying Doctors (1989-90), Snowy River: The McGregor Saga (1996), Water Rats (1997), All Saints (1998), Neighbours (1992-01) and Blue Heelers, which ran between 1994 and 2003 (qq.v.).
Home and Away is a television serial created by Alan Bateman and produced by the Seven Network. The idea for the series came to Bateman (then head of drama at Seven) after he stopped to buy ice-creams in a small country town in southern NSW. While chatting to some locals, he learned that the town was unhappy about plans to build a home for foster kids from the city. At that time, Channel Seven was still smarting from its decision to let Neighbours go to the Ten Network, where it had become hugely popular, and was looking to create another series to rival its success. Bateman saw in the idea that became Home and Away the potential for plenty of storylines and conflict by having streetwise city kids being relocated to a small regional environment,
In the beginning, the series focused on Pippa and Tom Fletcher, who, being unable to have children of their own, decide to become foster parents. When Tom is retrenched from his city job, the couple buy the rundown Summer Bay Caravan Park and move there with their five foster children. Soon after arriving, they also take in troublesome Bobby Simpson.
The series debuted in January 1988 with an hour-long telemovie. Although this rated well, the series itself took some while to develop an audience. Having learned their lesson from the Neighbours debacle, Network Seven gave its new show time, and its ratings gradually increased. As with Neighbours, the Home and Away series and performers became very popular in the United Kingdom.
One of Australia's highest rating dramas, All Saints is a Logie Award-winning Australian medical drama set in the fictional All Saints Western General Hospital in suburban Sydney. The stories originally focused on the nursing staff of Ward 17 run by Nursing Unit Manager Terri Sullivan. It was sometimes referred to as the 'garbage ward' because it took the overflow of patients.
In 2004 Network Seven producers overhauled the series in an effort to increase the show's gradually dwindling audience. They achieved this by closing down Ward 17 and transferring some of the staff to the Emergency Department managed by Frank Campion. Several other new lead characters were also introduced. The changes also saw the storylines begin to focus more on the lives of the doctors and nurses.
Another significant change to the series came in early 2009 when the producers introduced the Medical Response Unit. Central to this development was the helicopter which took doctors to rescue situations outside the hopsital and which in turn brought patients to the All Saints Emergency Department. The show's name was also changed at this time to All Saints: Medical Response Unit. The increased production costs created by having scenes shot on location played a part, however, in the series being cancelled mid-year. The series ended with the Emergency Department and Medical Response Unit teams having a dinner to farewell the last remaining original character, Von Ryan on her final day at All Saints.
All Saints was popular in many countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium and Iran.
Water Rats is an Australian police television series which was broadcast on the Nine Network between 1996 and 2001. The series was based around the men and women of the Sydney Water Police who fight crime across Sydney Harbour and surrounding locales. The show was set on and around Goat Island in Sydney Harbour.