Peter Terson (1932–2021)

Published: 14 April 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Peter Terson in 2020

Newcastle-born Playwright Peter Terson has died at the age of 89.

For 20 years, from 1964 to 1984, he was closely associated with Peter Cheeseman of the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, who directed over twenty of his plays.

In the mid-60s, Michael Croft of the National Youth Theatre commissioned him to write a play for young people “with a large cast” and Terson came up with what was to become probably his best known piece, Zigger Zagger, a play about football hooliganism and tribalism which the NYT presented in 1967 at the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre in Holborn. In the cast were quite a number of young actors who were to go on to have major successful careers in theatre. Among them were Simon Cadell and Gareth Thomas.

It was later revived by the NYT’s North East branch at Sunderland Empire.

Another of his plays, Strippers (1984), which dealt with North East women who, during Thatcher’s years as Prime Minister, became strippers to supplement the family income, had its première at what is now Northern Stage by the TyneWear Theatre Company and, along with Zigger Zagger, remains one of his best known plays.

He was born Peter Patterson in Newcastle and left school at 15. After National Service in the RAF he went to teacher training college in Bristol and went on to teach History and PE in Worcestershire.

Over 80 of his plays for stage and television were performed and there are many others in the archive of the Victoria Theatre at Staffordshire University.