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.
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.
Spearswas 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.'
The Big Wish1990single 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 (http://www.australiantelevision.net/more_winners.html). Sighted: 10/11/2011