Tudor Gates

TUDOR GATES Play and screen writer

Born: 1930, in London. Died: 12 January, 2007, in London, aged 76.

TUDOR Gates found renown as a playwright of popular whodunits in London's West End and for writing some horror films that were tepidly received by the critics but enjoyed a huge box office success. Such films as The Vampire Lovers, Eskimo Nel, Last of a Vampire and Twins of Evil earned Gates large royalties and earned him a certain cult status in the genre of horror movies.

Tudor Gates was brought up in the East End of London and started work in a touring theatre company. He did national service as a tank driver with the Royal Dragoon Guards. In his spare time, he wrote and experienced some success in 1955 when Coral Browne and Michael Horden appeared in his first play, The Guv'nor. As a result, Gates received television commissions to supply scripts for such high profile dramas as The Avengers, The Saint and The Sweeney. He also became a recognised writer of novels - gaining success with Black Joy which was made into a drama for television. That was directed (as was Eskimo Nell) by Martin Campbell who has recently directed Casino Royale.

In 1968, Gates was one of the many writers who was involved with Roger Vadim's sci-fi fantasy Barbarella with Jane Fonda. Two years later, he wrote The Vampire Lovers for Hammer Films which had a cast led by Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing and Kate O'Mara. The lesbian love scenes stole the notices.

Another Gothic drama followed the following year when Gates wrote Lust for Vampire and although the film's director, Jimmy Slaughter, was dismissive of the script ("an embarrassment"), the film was a box office winner. As was Twins of Evil (1971) with Cushing and Dennis Price.

Other films (Fright and The Optimists of Nine Elms, with Peter Sellers) followed in the Seventies but the movies gave Gates the financial freedom to write plays. His first stage success was a whodunit called Who Saw Him Die? in 1974 which had Stratford Johns - widely known as TV's Inspector Barlow in Z Cars - as its star. Also in the cast was the Dundee-born actress Liz Wallace and the play toured Edinburgh and Glasgow before it enjoyed a lengthy run in London.

Four years later, there followed Who Killed Agatha Christie?, starring James Bolam. It too enjoyed a good run in London and Gates' final play of note was The Kidnap Game, starring Richard Todd and Hayley Mills. He also wrote Vamp which came to the fringe of the Edinburgh Festival in 1975.

By the Seventies, Gates had also become the proprietor of several Kent newspapers and a director of the theatrical club in Covent Garden, called Macready's.

His flat was above the club and he became a well-known character in the West End.

Gates stood as a Liberal candidate for parliament on five occasions, but confined much of his political activity to serving on the committee of BECTU (the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union), where he championed many industrial causes and won a reputation for being forthright in his opinions.

Gates recently suffered from heart disease, which he bore with typical good humour and patience.

He is survived by his two daughters.