Further to a blog post about the play, here’s a little more on its author.
John Chapman may not be a name familiar to everyone but it’s highly likely you’ve seen some of his work once or twice during your lifetime. John Chapman was a British writer born on the 27th May 1927, he was born in London and his Father was engineer.
He was also the nephew of the well-known English actor Edward Chapman, who appeared in many films and television programmes throughout his life. Like his Uncle, John Chapman also had an interest in the arts and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) drama school in London.
While he is known for his writing now, John Chapman originally started out as an actor and made his stage debut in the Enid Bagnold’s 1946 play, National Velvet. After that he continued work as a stage manager and understudy at the Whitehall Theatre.
In 1954 John Chapman released his play Dry Rot. The play went on to receive a lot of success and ran for four years and around 1475 performances. Dry Rot was also adapted into a British comedy film in 1956 that is notable for being the screen debut for actress Heather Sears.
Both the film and original play follow the same plot (although the film does take some liberties with the story) which follows the story of three bookies – Alf Tubbe, Flash Harry and Fred Phipps – who devise a plan to rig a horse race by kidnapping the favourite horse and its jockey. Of course this being a comedy you can imagine that this plan doesn’t run quite that smoothly.
Although Dry Rot was John Chapman’s first big success it was far from his only one. After the success of Dry Rot he followed it with another stage play, Simple Spymen, in 1958. This ran for three years and had over 1400 performances.
He also worked extensively with the actor and playwright Ray Cooney (full name Raymond George Alfred Cooney) who he met during Dry Rot’s theatre run. Together they wrote a number of plays, some of which also found success on the movie screen as well. Some notable examples of their work include the plays: Not Now My Darling which was later adapted into a film and There Goes The Bride.
John Chapman also used his comedic talents for writing episodes for the TV sitcoms Hugh and I and Happily Ever After. John Chapman died aged 74 on September 3rd 2001, his death being a loss to both the world of theatre and television. With a career spanning over half a century, his name will rightly live on for years to come.
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