Client Case Study

Posted on 21st June 2018

Proofreading and Formatting the Childhood Memories of the late Actor, James Ellis (aka. Sgt. Bert Lynch, Z Cars)

James Ellis in Z Cars

I was delighted to be approached by Robina Ellis, the wife of the late actor James Ellis, better known to those of us 'of a certain age' as Sgt. Bert Lynch in Z Cars.

James wrote his memoires as a series of poetry and prose, looking at his childhood and youth through the context of the house in Belfast where he grew up with his parents and elder sister.

Robina is not only hoping to get the works published but is also hoping to secure funding to turn them into a stage production, initially as a 'try out,' in Jimmy's home town of Belfast, which was what Jimmy himself was hoping for whilst writing.  To this end, Robina has enlisted the services of Glenn Patterson, Professor & Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen's University Belfast, published novelist and BAFTA nominee.  The adapted stage performance will be produced by Blunt Fringe Productions & East Belfast Partnership this August at the East Side Festival, Belfast.

The first step of the way was to get the works in a format ready to send to the publishers.  My task was to maintain the authenticity of the language and work, whilst tidying up the punctuation, using a more modern style.  I also proofread the document, picking out inconsistencies in the formatting and the occasional 'typo.'

Jimmy talks with great emotion about the antics of Spot, the family dog, who sounds like he was a true character but contrasts this with memories of witnessing distraught mothers waving goodbye as their sons emigrated to far shores looking for work - in those days never expecting to see them again.  It was quite an emotional read.

For my part, I was particularly interested in the poem entitled the 'Kerry Dance!'  I almost felt inspired to do a little jig around my office!

Jimmy is best remembered for playing the part of Sgt. Bert Lynch in Z Cars, a popular BBC series which ran from 1962 until 1978, a total of 801 episodes.  Other regulars on the programme were Stratford Johns, Brian Blessed and Frank Windsor.

He also appeared in other well-known TV series including One by One, Doctor Who, Ballykissangel and the sitcom Nightingales, alongside Robert Lindsay and David Threlfall.  He also had a cameo part in Boys from the Blackstuff, Only Fools and Horses, The Bill, Casualty, Birds of a Feather and Heartbeat.  Quite a career!
James Ellis in One by One

In addition to writing poetry and prose he was also a translator.

In 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Queen's University, Belfast.

I feel very privileged to have had a 'sneak peek' at this work, 'Portrait of a House' and wish Robina every success with both the publication and stage production - I hope to see it on the bookshelves in the future and will look back with my own fond memories of my very small part in bringing Jimmy's memoires to life.

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