Early in his career, Peter wrote three plays for BBC’s Play for Today series .
The first was the 1980 award winning Kate the Good Neighbour . Kate, a fiercely independent old lady was beautifully played by Rachel Kempson and directed by John Bruce. As Kate begins to lose her struggle to stay in her own home, she reads her diaries and we see her as a young woman losing the love of her life in the war. We see her difficult difficult transition into an old people’s home where she begins to realize she can survive again.
Minor Complications was Peter’s second Play for Today in 1980. Peter received the Royal Television’s Writer’s award for Kate and Minor Complications, a true story of a woman’s desperate struggle for justice when her operation went badly wrong. Directed by Moira Armstrong, the play starred Paola Dionisotti.
In 1980, there were no phone lines for people affected by television programmes, the calls went straight through to Peter and his wife. They were inundated over the weeks that followed and became very aware there was no-one to help. That led to their setting up the organisation Action against Medical Negligence .
Shall I be Mother in 1983, again had a social theme. Peter depicted the struggles for young people leaving care and at 17 and themselves living alone in council accommodation, thrown into adult life at the deep end. Ronald Wilson was the director and it starred Eva Griffiths , Cassie Stuart and Sheila Grant
This television film, starring Sarah Lancashire, centred around a child protection officer who became embroiled in a case of kidnap, shortly after the tragic loss of her own baby. The Sunday Telegraph reviewer Jaci Stephen wrote “The writing and direction are immense components in a heart-rending piece that never veers into sentimentality and has a suspense that never falters.”
A Sally Head production for ITV, and Sarah Lancashire won the Golden Nymph award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival in 2002.
Linus Roache and Lia Williams starred in this ten part BBC drama set in war torn Yorkshire in the 1940s – young lovers try to build a life together across the class divide. It was produced by Clive Brill and Eileen Quinn.
Based on Stephen Gregory’s tale of the strange rapport between man and bird, it is one of Ralph Fiennes’ earliest films and gained a cult following in America.
Peter describes The Cormorant as one of the strangest single plays he ever wrote. Shot in Snowdonia, Fiennes plays a man who inherits a remote coastal farm, on condition he looks after his pet cormorant Archie. A bizarre relationship develops between man and bird, threatening his marriage.
Fiennes gives a mesmerising performance in a film that was fiendishly difficult to shoot. There were two Archies: one would fish for the camera. The other wouldn’t. One was approachable – the other you had to watch out for his razor-sharp bill.
A Ruth Caleb production for the BBC, directed by Peter Markham.
Adapted from a novel by Frank Kippax, Peter wrote this four hour drama serial about a businessman caught up in a violent crisis in Britain’s prisons.
Starring Michael Feast, Douglas Henshall, Tom Wilkinson and Ray Winstone, this BAFTA awarded serial was directed by Nicholas Renton and produced by Eileen Quinn for the BBC.
Peter wrote this six part series for Anglia TV. Francesca Annis played Fleet Street’s first women editor of a daily newspaper. Roy Marsden owned the newspaper. The former Prime Minister Harold Wilson , had a cameo role as himself.
The series was directed by Moira Armstrong and produced by John Rosenberg.
How do you put a price on a life? In this acclaimed 6 part series for Channel 4, Peter Barkworth starred as a millionaire businessman whose wife (Harriet Walker) and her daughter were kidnapped by a renegade IRA man (Derek Thompson) – on the run as much from his own people as from the police.
Produced for the BBC by Mark Shivas and directed by Peter Smith, The Price was nominated by BAFTA for best series.
One of Peter’s favourite series, and very well reviewed, Bread or Blood was set in 1830 at the time of the Swing Riots. It tells the story of Isaac Bawcombe, a Wiltshire shepherd. Peter was inspired by Tom a Wiltshire shepherd he met, by EP Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class and the series grew out of WH Hudson’s The Shepherd’s life.
Bread or Blood was a BBC production, directed by Peter Smith and starred Carolyn Pickles, Ian Redford and Malcolm Storrey.