Born in Lanarkshire, in 1927, the son of teachers, David Butler studied English at St Andrews University but left without a degree after immersing himself in acting with the university drama society. He then trained at Rada, before appearing in West End revues and playing aLibrarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
Born in Lanarkshire, in 1927, the son of teachers, David Butler studied English at St Andrews University but left without a degree after immersing himself in acting with the university drama society. He then trained at Rada, before appearing in West End revues and playing a young prison officer in a 1956 Joan Littlewood Theatre Workshop production of the Brendan Behan play The Quare Fellow.
Butler's face became well known on television as Dr Nick Williams, an anaesthetist, in ITV's first twice-weekly serial, Emergency - Ward 10 (1960-62), which was also Britain's first medical soap, set in the fictitious Oxbridge General Hospital. He seized the chance to write episodes of the programme (1963-64) and subsequently contributed scripts to the children's adventure series Orlando (1965-68) and The Adventures of Black Beauty (1972-74), as well as the police dramas Special Branch (1969-74) and Van Der Valk (1972-73)
After acting in episodes of Softly, Softly (1968), Sherlock Holmes (1968), Paul Temple (1971) and The Regiment (1972), and playing Christopher Mont in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970), Butler devoted most of his time to writing historical dramas.
First was The Strauss Family (1972), about the 19th-century composers, with music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1978 came his four-part mini-series Disraeli, starring Ian McShane as the flamboyant Tory prime minister, another success in the United States. Butler also contributed to the popular Edwardian period drama The Duchess of Duke Street (1976-77). His last notable solo success, Lord Mountbatten: the last Viceroy (1985), won him an Emmy award, at a time when the last days of the Raj became popular on screen.
Butler's Within These Walls (1973-78) originally starred Googie Withers as governor of the fictitious women's prison Stone Park, with Butler himself playing the prison chaplain, the Rev Henry Prentice, in some episodes. He also created the wartime drama series We'll Meet Again (1982) and wrote The Further Adventures of Oliver Twist (1980), The Scarlet and the Black (1983, another Second World War drama) and Blood Royal: William the Conqueror (1990).
Although his excursions into cinema were rare, Butler was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay of Voyage of the Damned (1976), the true story of Jews leaving Nazi Germany on a ship bound for Havana - with Max von Sydow as the captain - but denied permission to land anywhere. Butler also adapted Alistair MacLean's thriller Bear Island into a 1979 film.