Mercer, David

David Mercer, born in 1928, was a prolific political playwright, best known for his work on television since the 1960s. From a working class background in Yorkshire, he graduated from Durham University. In the late 1950s, he moved in literary circles in London and met authors such as Rudolf Nassauer, Booker-prize winning novelist Bernice Rubens, and her husband Jon Silkin. He was a close friend of British-Jewish playwright Harold Pinter. A self-confessed Marxist, his plays, such as Where the Difference Begins (1961), focus on the predicament of socialism in a capitalist post-war society. Aesthetically, Mercer moved between ‘kitchen-sink realism’ and the emerging experiments of non-naturalist TV (A Suitable Case for Treatment, 1962). Under the influence of psychiatrist R.D. Laing, he tackled the subjects of schizophrenia and abortion in his documentary-style TV play In Two Minds (1967), which was later adapted as Family Life on film by director Ken Loach. He was the screenwriter for Alain Resnais’ Cesar-Award-winning film Providence (1977). He moved to Haifa, Israel, and died in 1980.


—. Collected TV Plays: Volume 1: Where the Difference Begins; A Climate of Fear; Birth of a Private Man. London: Calder, 1981.

—. Collected TV Plays: Volume 2: A Suitable Case for Treatment; For Tea on Sunday; And Did Those Feet; Let’s Murder Vivaldi; In Two Minds; The Parachute. London: Calder, 1981.

—. Plays 1: Where the Difference Begins; A Suitable Case for Treatment; The Governor’s Lady, On the Eve of Publication; The Cellar and the Almond Tree; Emma’s Time; After Haggerty. London: Methuen, 1990.

—. Plays 2: Flint; The Bankrupt; An Afternoon at the Festival; Duck Song; The Arcata Promise; Find Me; Huggy Bear. London: Methuen, 1994.