Vale James Walker
It's with a great sense of disbelief – a feeling I know is shared by many in our industry still reeling from the passing of Jeff Truman – that I solemnly inform AWG members that we have lost the significant talents of James Walker from our screens.
A bright and sharp-minded contributor to Australian scriptwriting for more than a decade, James – at the youthful age of 41 years, husband and father of two young boys – succumbed to a diabetic coma on 11 January and was tragically unable to recover. He passed away peacefully on 20 January, surrounded by family.
A boy from Perth, James' talent was noticed early; he was singled out via a competition and sent to LA for an experience that cemented his intention to become a writer. In various roles – including Script Editor, Script Producer and freelance writer – James worked on many of our fine dramas, such as McLeod's Daughters, Home & Away, Neighbours, Wild Boys and Wonderland – and quickly distinguished himself as a cut above.
He was indeed an excellent writer – with his funny, crisp dialogue – and he had a wonderful knack with defining unique characters. But in recent times, it was my great pleasure to sit in development meetings with James and watch his big brain in action, always marvelling at his original ideas and fresh approach to concepts.
His interests were so broad (and yet so specific!) that he brought conversation and information to the plotting room that was singular – including, as our mutual colleague Stephen Vagg has said: "random conversations on – not limited to – Alex P Keaton from Family Ties, Monkey (the TV show), John Carpenter, Battlestar Galactica (the remake), Kevin Smith, Bruce Lee, his boys, Steve Waugh, random Western Australian crime cases about which he was forever claiming "inside knowledge", Justify, Rescue Me, all those super novas and comic cons he was forever insisting "have more broad appeal than you think", Steven King…" and much more.
He could be an overwhelming force in the creative process – a mark of his great passion for the work – and it's hard to imagine how much richness the future of Australian TV has lost. My respect for my brilliant colleague is outweighed only by the deep affection I have for my friend, James Walker, who will be sadly and very often missed.
Vale, James – your colleagues and friends are joined in despair at your untimely passing and all our sympathies and thoughts are with your family at this time.
Family and friends of James are warmly invited to attend a celebration of James’ life to be held in the Magnolia Chapel, Macquarie Park Crematorium, Corner of Delhi and Plassey Roads, North Ryde on Saturday 24 January 2015 commencing at 11:00am.
-Sarah Walker, via the Australian Writers Guild