Posthumous Oscar acclaim for Bridget O’Connor

AN AWARD-WINNING screenwriter with North East connections has been nominated for an Oscar for her work on a film she didn’t live to see released.

Playwright Bridget OConnor

AN AWARD-WINNING screenwriter with North East connections has been nominated for an Oscar for her work on a film she didn’t live to see released.

Acclaimed playwright Bridget O’Connor has been shortlisted in the best adapted screenplay category for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

The 49-year-old, who died from cancer in September 2010, was nominated for her work on co-writing the screenplay for the movie alongside her Gateshead-born husband Peter Straughan.

The nomination for the Academy Award was announced yesterday. The couple will be up against four other films – The Descendants, Hugo, The Ides of March and Moneyball.

Ms O’Connor never saw the finished film, which has a dedication to the mother-of-one in the credits, as it was released posthumously in 2011.

Mr Straughan, who has a daughter, Connie, with Ms O’Connor, said he wished his wife could be with him to enjoy the moment.

He said: “I’m stunned and thrilled to hear about the nomination. I wish more than anything in the world that my wife – who did the lion’s share of the adaptation – could be here to enjoy this moment.

“She would be so happy and so proud. I’m going to go and meet my daughter now and tell her how clever her mother was.”

From 1996 to 1998, Ms O’Connor was Northern Arts literary fellow at Newcastle and Durham universities, where she fell in love with Peter whom she married in 2008.

Tim Bevan, of the UK Film Council and Working Title, previously described her as a great writer.

He said: “Great movie writers are rare in this country and she was one of them.”

Among a long list of acclaimed work, Ms O’Connor, who was born in Ireland, was known for her play The Flags, a comedy about two lifeguards on the second-worst beach in Ireland. Before she died, she was developing The Lovers, written for Live Theatre in Newcastle, as a feature film.

Mr Straughan’s other screenwriting credits include the comedy How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, starring Simon Pegg and Gillian Anderson, and The Men Who Stare At Goats, starring George Clooney.

He moved into film after his plays A Rhyme for Orange, Bones and Noir were staged in the North East.

The couple were not the only North East names to make it on to the nominations lists for this year’s Academy Awards.

Newcastle-born actress Janet McTeer is in the running for best supporting actress for her role alongside Glenn Close in the gender-bending drama Albert Nobbs.

The 50-year-old played Hubert Page, a woman living as a man in early 20th Century Ireland.

Stephen Spielberg’s epic film War Horse, for which Newcastle-born playwright Lee Hall worked on the screenplay, was nominated for six awards, including best picture.

Britons Gary Oldman and Kenneth Branagh are in the running for Oscars too. The nominations were announced in Beverly Hills by actress Jennifer Lawrence and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak.

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