Irene Shubik

Originally an academic historian, Irene Shubik worked as story editor on Armchair Theatre and the science fiction anthology series Out of this World for ABC in 1962. Brought across to the BBC by Sydney Newman, she produced the similar Out of the Unknown for BBC2, utilising a number of the same writers (and later even some of the same scripts), in 1965. A further season followed in 1966, while a third, produced by Alan Bromly in 1969, utilised scripts left over from Shubik's tenure. In the meantime she oversaw a series of George Simenon short stories under the title Thirteen Against Fate.

Moving to The Wednesday Play in 1967, she remained with the series through its transition to Play for Today, producing well over fifty editions including Peter Terson's The Last Train Through Harecastle Tunnel, Jeremy Sandford's Edna, The Inebriate Woman and John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey. At the same time she was also handling Playhouse for BBC2, with two supernatural tales from 1975, Daphne Du Maurier's The Breakthrough and William Trevor's Mrs Acland's Ghosts leading directly to the six episode Playhouse: The Mind Beyond the following year, with writers including Trevor, Brian Hayles and Evan Jones. Very much a sequel to her own Out of the Unknown's, all eight stories were collected in a volume edited by Shubik the same year.

In 1978 she produced the first series of Rumpole of the Bailey for Thames, and set up - but did not produce - the second. She moved to Granada in 1980, producing Paul Scott's post-Indian independence drama Staying On, with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. Its success prompted Granada to make The Jewel in the Crown, which Shubik again set up but did not produce. Her 1975 book Play for Today: The Evolution of Television Drama is now a standard reference work.

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[Biography as submitted for inclusion in The Guinness Book of Classic British TV (1996, 2nd edition), with minor corrections]

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