Jim Allen (1926-1999)
Jim Allen was a socialist writer of international significance, who made a major contribution to British TV drama in the 1960s and 1970s and to British film in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Library is very pleased to house the Jim Allen archive, which his family have kindly entrusted to us.
The Jim Allen archive includes books, videos, scripts (produced and non-produced) and other material. The Library welcomes deposits of new material from anybody who knew or worked with Jim. We are interested in personal reminiscences, stills, scripts and videos.
We welcome visits to the library by prior appointment by those who wish to use the archive for research purposes or to view the videos.
About Jim Allen
Jim was born into a Catholic family in Miles Platting, Manchester in 1926. He left school aged 13 and after a series of jobs was called up into the army in 1944 and joined the Seaforth Highlanders.
He then joined the Merchant Navy and travelled the world. On coming back to England he joined the Socialist Labour League and became a convinced Marxist for the rest of his life.
In the 1950s he worked in the mines and edited a rank and file newspaper - The Miner. He was expelled from the Labour Party after attacking Hugh Gaitskell in an editorial in the Blackley Socialist.
Whilst working on building sites he began writing and eventually his TV career began with scripts for Coronation Street. His first full length TV drama was The Lump produced by Tony Garnett and set in the world of the building workers that he knew intimately.
Allen first worked with Ken Loach on The Big Flame , a story of union militancy set in the Liverpool docks (it was filmed onsite) and produced by Tony Garnett. Later collaborations with Loach included The Rank and File and Days of Hope, a major political drama series covering the years 1916-1926. With the onset of the Thatcher government television executives started to play safe and Allen's work was no longer commissioned. He then wrote three films, Hidden Agenda (1988), Raining Stones (1993) and Land and Freedom (1995) - all directed by Ken Loach.
Jim Allen died in the summer of 1999, his funeral being attended by family and many friends from all walks of life. In October 2000 a commemorative event was held at Cornerhouse, Manchester, organised by family and friends. The committee produced a special pamphlet with contributions and appreciations from many people who knew Jim: Jim Allen: the Lust for Life, and related material, form part of the archive and can be read at the Library.
Related Object of the Month
July 2009: Land and Freedom
Further reading on Jim Allen
Andrew Willis, Television drama and social change: Jim Allen in the 1960s, In North West Labour History Journal, 2001
Andrew Willis, A continued commitment to socialism: Jim Allen and television drama in the 1970s, In North West Labour History Journal, 2002