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.).
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.
A character-based television drama series about the lives of police officers in the fictitious Australian country town of Mt Thomas, this series began with the arrival of Constable Maggie Doyle (Lisa McCune) to the Mt Thomas station in the episode 'A Woman's Place'. Doyle and avuncular station boss Senior Sergeant Tom Croydon (John Wood) were the core characters of the series until the departure of Lisa McCune.
Immensely popular for a decade, Blue Heelers was cancelled in 2006 after thirteen seasons. The announcement was front-page news in Australia's major newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney's Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun and The Age in Melbourne, and Brisbane's Courier Mail.
On June 8, 2006 Ross Warneke wrote in The Age:
'It's over and, to be perfectly blunt, there's no use lamenting the demise of Blue Heelers any more. When the final movie-length episode aired on Channel Seven on Sunday night, 1.5 million Australians tuned in, a figure that was big enough to give the show a win in its timeslot but nowhere near big enough to pay the sort of tribute that this writer believes Heelers deserved after more than 500 episodes.It is unlikely there will be anything like it again. At almost $500,000 an hour, shows such as Blue Heelers are quickly becoming the dinosaurs of Australian TV.'