Born: Established: 13 Jul 1946 ; Died: 29 Oct 2006 Sydney
Like so many script-writers of his generation, some of Robert Caswell's earliest work was with Crawford Productions, with scripts for Matlock Police (1975-1976). He continued to write for Crawfords throughout the 1970s, including for The Bluestone Boys (1976), Bluey (1976), and The Sullivans (1976). However, he was not writing full time for Crawfords: he also wrote for Cash Harmon Television (with scripts for soap opera Number 96; McManus M.P.B., the pilot for a police procedural that was never picked up; and entreprenurial drama The Unisexers); Reg Grundy Enterprises (police procedurals King's Men and Chopper Squad, and high-school drama Glenview High), South Pacific Films (crime drama Silent Number), and ABC Television (Certain Women and Patrol Boat).
In 1977, he co-wrote, with Swedish director Lasse Hallström, ABBA: The Movie (directed by Hallström), in which backstage and concert footage of ABBA is blended with the subplot of a young radio journalist desperately trying to secure the in-depth interview that his boss has demanded.
In the early 1980s, Caswell worked steadily with the ABC, producing scripts for such programs as four-part anthology series Premiere (1980: the other three scripts were by Michael Cove, Steve J. Spears, and Noel Robinson), crime drama Menotti (1981), science-fiction series Timelapse (1981, co-written with Colin Free), sportscentric drama series Sporting Chance (1981, co-written with Peter Yeldham), the segment Jimmy Dancer for anthology series Spring and Fall (1982), three-part crime drama Scales of Justice (1983: the series won him both an AWGIE and the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award), telemovie The Body Corporate (1983), the drama Who Killed Hannah Jane? for crime anthology series Verdict (1984), and one segment of the five-part drama Singles (1984: the other segments were written by Michael Aitkens, Linda Aronson, Alma De Groen, and Anne Brooksbank).
In 1984, he co-wrote (with Lex Marinos, Denny Lawrence, and Terry Hayes) the mini-series Bodyline, a dramatisation (with interspersed archival footage) of the 1932-1933 Ashes series. Produced by Kennedy Miller Entertainment, the miniseries drew excellent ratings for Channel 10. Caswell followed this with scripts for bio-pic Shout! The Story of Johnny O'Keefe (1985), episodes of 'Australian western' Five Mile Creek (1985), and, in 1988, the script for Evil Angels (1988), the dramatisation of the Azaria Chamberlain disappearance and the subsequent murder trial of her parents.
Evil Angels won Caswell an AFI Award for Best Screenplay (Adapted), and the film drew international attention, especially after Meryl Streep's Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Chamberlain.
In 1991, Caswell adapted the novel Avenue of Eternal Peace, by Nicholas Jose, for television under the title Children of the Dragon (1991). He followed this with the script for The Doctor (1991), for American film studio Touchstone Pictures; Over the Hill (1992), an adaptation of a novel by Gladys Taylor; and the screenplay for A Far Off Place, based on books by Laurens Van Der Post and co-written with American script-writers Jonathan Hensleigh and Sally Robinson.
Caswell's last script was Something the Lord Made (2004), a dramatisation of the relationship between heart-surgery pioneers Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas, co-written with American script-writer Peter Silverman. Made for American premium cable network HBO, the program was nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television) and an Emmy (for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special), and a won a Peabody Award and a WGA award (Long Form: Original).