Vale: Tom Hegarty

Vale: Tom Hegarty

Prolific Australian screenwriter and producer Tom Hegarty, who co-created The Box and wrote on numerous Crawford dramas, has died aged 88.

Writer / Producer Roger Simpson reflected in an AWG obituary, that Hegarty got his first break in radio drama finding success with the BBC, before joining Crawford Productions in 1967.

He worked on Homicide (including the first colour episode), Division 4, Matlock Police, Solo One, before going freelance.

He briefly left to work on the ABC mega-series Power Without Glory “but was persuaded by Hector to return when he threatened to break his legs.”

During his time at Crawford’s, Hegarty worked as a writer, script editor and producer on Hunter, The Box (which he co-devised with Ian Jones), Young Ramsay, Bluey, eventually taking on the role as Producer, and The Flying Doctors.

“Tom was a showrunner before we knew what the term meant,” Simpson observed.

“When Tom eventually left Crawford’s for good, he flourished in the freelance world, working with Ian Jones on Against The Wind and Ian’s feature, The Lighthorsemen. Tom also worked on Henry Crawford’s A Town Like Alice, co-writing with Rosemary Anne Sissons on one of Australia’s first British co-productions.”

His other credits included Eureka Stockade, Five Mile Creek, E Street, Snowy, Halifax f.p., Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, All Saints, Blue Heelers, Stingers, Chances, Sword of Honour and Executive Story Editor on the US series Ponderosa.

He also spent time serving as Head of the Writing Workshop at the AFTRS and as Director of Scripts at the AFC.

“Many writers are respected for their work or admired for their efforts on behalf of the Guild. Others are sought out for the wonderful stories they tell about the old days or their generosity of spirit with those trying to forge a career. Tom was all of that – but something else too: Tom was loved. ‘We had the best of it,’ he’d say, quoting ‘Dead Howard’ (we called him that as he was the first of the group to bail out), but every generation thinks that,” Simpson noted.

“Though they were only the golden years to us, I am grateful I could share them with Tom. Great writer, consummate editor, middling tennis player, ferocious bibliophile and peerless friend, Tom Hegarty died as he wanted: at home with his extensive library of books. We will miss him more than words can say.”

Photo: Angela Wales Kirgo