Barry Hines

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Melvin Barry Hines, FRSL (30 June 1939 – 18 March 2016) was an English writer best known for the novel A Kestrel for a Knave (which was adapted for the cinema as Kes) and television scripts such as Threads.


  • Our intention in making Threads was to step aside from the politics and – I hope convincingly – show the actual effects on either side should our best endeavours to prevent nuclear war fail.

Barry Hines 1970 interview[edit]

"Barry Hines 1970 interview - from the archive", The Guardian, 21 March 2016

  • I think it was the first novel I’d actually read in my own time, and of my own volition. I’d actually sat down and read a book, and I was 21. Ridiculous. I can’t remember reading anything before.
  • I’d never heard of Ernest Hemingway, but when I read his stories I realised there was something special about this simple style, but I couldn’t understand how he got the effect. I realised there was something underneath it, and that’s how the whole thing started to unfold for me.
  • I thought I would like to show that these kids can do something which is in fact very skillful - not the old tale about them being cobblers and joiners, but something that means they have to get books out of the library. And it’s a technical skill; they’ve actually got to read about it before they can do something like training a hawk. My brother trained a kestrel in these fields at the back, and I wanted to show that kids can do this kind of thing. They can do all kinds of things if only they’re given opportunities.
    • On A Kestrel for a Knave
  • The trouble in school is that you can do so little to help kids because you come up against this dead end of the educational system. I think a comprehensive system is the only answer for these kids, if it is carried through properly. But education reflects the system, rather than changes it. People say it’s an instrument of social change; well, if it is, it’s a bloody slow one. I think education reflects the class system, and the system has to change before education can.

Barry Hines Interview: Homecoming Hero[edit]

"Barry Hines Interview: Homecoming Hero", On: Magazine, 2011

  • I think that the book has survived as a set text because teachers like using it. It has a lot of possibilities from a teaching point of view. Most kinds of children seem to identify with the story. Northanger Abbey it is not! It should really be out of date now after all these years. But sadly, it’s not. There are still a lot of kids like Billy around. Ken Loach’s film Kes is a sympathetic retelling of the book. It adds value to it. Ken is a wonderful director for any writer to work with. I was very lucky that Tony Garnett the producer and Ken discovered my little book.
    • On A Kestrel for a Knave
  • I think that I painted an accurate picture of what life was like for someone like Billy forty years ago. Looking back, maybe I was not as sympathetic as I could have been to some of the adult characters.
    • On A Kestrel for a Knave
  • How often are 'dreams realised' in real life? I write about real people and show a section of their life. Without the Hollywood endings which rarely happen outside Hollywood. My memory is failing me these days and I cannot remember the exact details, but Walt Disney offered to make Kes. On the condition that the hawk recovered. Should we have sold out? I know which way would always be right for me.
  • I remember years ago when The Price of Coal was on television one evening. When I got on the bus in Chapeltown the next day it was full of miners coming off shift. I walked down the aisle and they just looked and said nothing. I’m scared to death until one man appointed himself spokesman and said ‘that were alreight, Barry’. I felt like an icon then, I can tell you!


Mick Jackson[edit]

  • He did hate doing it. It was alien to his nature. He reluctantly let himself be drawn into this thing, thinking what he would have done would have been a very passionate politicised scream of emotion, and what he was being pushed into was this box he didn't feel at all comfortable in.
    • From DVD audio commentary with Mick Jackson: Threads: remastered. Director: Mick Jackson. 1984. 2-disc special edition. Severin Films Inc., 2017.
  • He hated coming on the set and despised me because I wore white shoes.
    • From DVD audio commentary with Mick Jackson: Threads: remastered. Director: Mick Jackson. 1984. 2-disc special edition. Severin Films Inc., 2017.
  • I wanted him to use all his experience and intuition and empathy with people who'd grown up around him in Sheffield and put that into the movie, and I would be [...] the alien force, who was the voice of what science can do, and I would kind of foist these horrible indignities and horrors on these people, and he would try and get them to behave the way they would. So there was an innate conflict in that. We had many shouting matches, really passionate things, totally necessary for doing this.
    • From DVD audio commentary with Mick Jackson: Threads: remastered. Director: Mick Jackson. 1984. 2-disc special edition. Severin Films Inc., 2017.

External links[edit]

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