Troy Kennedy Martin, the British screenwriter whose credits include The Italian Job, died of cancer yesterday (September 15) aged 77 years old.

The award winning writer began his career at the BBC in 1958 and wrote several plays for the broadcaster before creating his first series, Storyboard, in 1961. His most famous TV creation was Liverpool-based police drama Z-Cars, which ran for 15 years although he was only involved in the first two series.

He moved into feature films in the early 1970s with the original screenplay for Peter Collinson’s The Italian Job, which starred Noel Coward and Michael Caine. He followed it up with Kelly’s Heroes, The Jerusalem File and Sweeney 2, based on the popular TV series, The Sweeney, created by his brother Ian Kennedy Martin. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Red Heat with director Walter Hill in 1988 and Red Dust, directed by Tom Hooper, in 2004.

He returned to TV work during the 1980s, including the critically acclaimed political thriller/science fiction drama Edge Of Darkness, and the popular ITV drama Reilly, Ace Of Spies.  He also adapted Andy McNab’s book Bravo Two Zero for the BBC.

Although he was best known for his work spanning TV and film, he also penned a novel, Beating The Damask Drum, published in 1959, and gave many lectures including the McTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in 1986.