Cheeseman was impressed with Peter's work and 'A Night to Make the Angels Weep' was performed at the Victoria in 1964. Subsequently, Peter gave in his notice at his school and took up the position of 'Resident Playwright' at the Victoria in 1965. He immediately took to working in the theatre-in-the round because, as he said, there were "no fake door handles", minimalist scenery and set designs which allowed the action to move along apace. With a year's salary sponsored by the Arts Council he moved with his family into the district. It hadn't taken much persuasion for him to leave teaching and he himself admitted that, as a teacher : “I wasn’t very good and the boys saw through me, but were very supportive”. Apparently, he never mastered the rules of basketball and said : "It was eight years of agony. I spent my time writing plays in the changing rooms" and Cheeseman said : "On sports days he used to lose the stopwatch and he had to make up the time, so he didn’t like it".
In 1965 he proved himself to be an accomplished adapter of the Potteries-born novelist, Arnold Bennett, whose short story 'Jock on the Go' gave him his first television credit which he shared with Peter Cheeseman in 1967. When the play was performed at the Victoria Theatre it was seen by by Michael Croft, Founder-Director of the National Youth Theatre, who invited Peter to join him at the National."Come Saturday the whole town comes alive. People are going one way from all the streets, they're going a one way. They're meeting and joining and going on, meeting more, till the trickle becomes a flood. And you come to the stadium and the hum comes from the bowl and the people inside seem to be saying : "Come on in. Come on in". And you jostle at the turnstile and the turnstile clicks and clicks and you push nearer and nearer, through the dark gap, then you're in. And the great stand at the City End, it's like an hall, a great hall. And you go on through the arch, till you see the pitch - green, new-shaven and watered. And the groundsman's made a white line, it's as straight as a ruler. And you find your place among the fans, the real fans, the singers and chanters and the rattle wavers. And a sheet of tobacco smoke hangs over the crowd and the crowd whistles salutes and the policeman circling the pitch look up and know they're in for a rough day of it". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_XsifCSIEs 'a poet of the theatre'. In his lifetime, Peter saw it filmed twice by the BBC, the second time in three parts in 1975 and although a professional West End production folded after only five performances in 1968, when he was 85 in 2017, its 50th anniversary in was marked by a revival by the NYT at Wilton’s Music Hall.'The genuine tang of Now. They come at you fresh, authentic, and surprising, like a head-on collision with the actual world. It should be the most popular show the National Youth Theatre has ever done', from the Daily Mail."He disappeared one day and nobody knew where he was. It turned out he’d gone to live in Whitby. He’s a strange chap is Peter, but he got so unhappy and he wanted to move. I think he was feeling claustrophobic. He lived in Whitby for several years and we did a number of plays set in Whitby or inspired by Whitby, 'The 1861 Whitby Lifeboat Disaster' was one".
The Whitby lifeboat crew launched five times to rescue stricken vessels, but on their sixth launch, tragedy struck. A freak wave hit the lifeboat, which capsized and all but one of the crew were lost. Cheeseman continued: "Peter was very much a man who writes about place, like a lot of writers do, but things that came out of the place. But he had to leave Whitby because of the stupidity of a young 'marketing director' we had, or 'publishing manager', who told the Daily Telegraph that the disaster in the play happened because the crew of the lifeboat were drunk and so Whitby erupted. Peter, who by then was a great mate of the lifeboat crew, was shunned and ostracised and it was a sort of national scandal - a 15 or 20 minute programme on the television news in May 1970". In fact, Peter and the family were forced to pack their bags and leave the town and moved into residence on a canal boat in the Midlands.
It was to be Peter's last collaboration with Cheeseman for many years who recalled : "He did an adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin and I couldn’t direct it because I was working on a new theatre and it didn’t work out and Peter got very upset and we parted company. It took a long time for us to get together again. They’re tempestuous characters, these writers".'The Fishing Party', in which a trio of coal miners, Art, Ern and Abve decide to leave their native Leeds, where they graft in the mines all week, and head to Whitby, where they intended to do a spot of cod fishing. To avoid staying in the docks where everyone reeked of fish, they sought digs at a hotel run by Audrey and her subservient husband Brian. Televised by the BBC as a 'Play for Today', Brian Glover played the party leader 'Art' and Jane Freeman played 'Audrey'. The play earned Peter a Writers' Guild Award.
It was was followed by the trio's second outing in 1973, 'Shakespeare or Bust', centred around a canal trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Antony and Cleopatra that ended up with 'Antony' played by Richard Johnson and 'Cleopatra' by Janet Suzman, meeting them, by accident, outside the theatre after the trio were unable to get tickets for the performance and joining them on the boat. The third play, 'Three for the Fancy', was set at a country livestock fair where they planned to exhibit, respectively, a rabbit, a mouse and a guinea pig at the Bradford Championship Show.
In all three plays, Peter used his favourite device of taking characters outside their natural comfort zone and exploited the comic potential that this released. At the a seaside hotel they were 'a cut above' what they are used to and exposed to petty class prejudice enshrined in the rituals of the hotel and its formidable proprietor. On the canal trip to Stratford-upon- Avon, which Peter undertook himself and completed the script on the journey, the comedy was released when Art took his pals on his quest to see the Bard’s work at the Royal Shakespeare Company. When they entered the obsessive world of champion livestock breeding, the trio never fully understood the reality around them and Peter was at his wryly observational best. Thirty years later, when Peter was 70, he saw his trilogy placed at the heart of a celebratory retrospective of his work at the British Film Institute in 2012.
In 1973 Peter wrote 'The Ballard of Ben Bagot' for BBC TV based on 17 year-old Ben, played by Peter Firth, who had thrown caution to the winds and left school behind, believing it to be inferior to his natural wit and intelligence and not before his English Lit teacher, played by Jack Shepherd despaired of his charge. 'Bags' sets fire to his school uniform and yearns for a freedom where he can be a pop star or a great business brain. Prone to fantasy, he cannot see the true reality of his situation, trapped as he is by marriage and his wife’s pregnancy. Director Ronald Smedley recalled his unease at receiving Peter's script which was simply poetry which he had to shape into a narrative and work on the music and locations.'The Jolly Swagman' for the Granada TV 'Crown Court' Series which involved Leavis and Lovelace working together as jobbing builders and a pub comedy act. They now shared the dock, accused of disguising themselves, tricking their way into the homes of two old aged pensioners and then robbing them.
Peter himself said : "I think anyone writing about my plays should see the paintings I do while I'm working on them. I just slosh the paint on, as boldly and simply as you and the subjects are all very simple and obvious : A Man, A Street, and so on. I don't know why I do them, and when I've done them I just chuck most of them away. I think my plays are very much like that. I suppose I must be some sort of crazy primitive or something". In an early letter to Peter Cheeseman, he wrote : 'Although, actually, tonight, I've started a play. Much against my will. It seems to force its way out like dry sweat. I might see the doctor rather than finish it. Oh, it's agony. I was up there in the Rec, rolling the pitch, when all of a sudden I went quiet and tense, and my arse was grapped in a knot, and then I knew my whole world was gone'.
In 1983, typically, Peter prepared for his writing for the BBC Radio documentary play, 'The Romany Trip' by buying an authentic caravan, learning to harness a horse and setting out on the road. In addition, when a genuine Romany challenged him to a fight, he accepted and lost two front teeth and as a mark of pride, didn't have them replaced. The proficiency he gained at handling the horse and caravan meant that he knew what he was doing two years later when he made the charming, ten episode series, 'The Journey' for BBC Television. In his wagon with the reporter Dennis Skillicorn, he travelled the medieval pilgrim route route from Winchester Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral with a horse called Marcus and Toby the donkey. Peter clearly provided the know how and leadership for 'The Journey'. : (Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 5)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUqVF9aNVfc&t=0m22s'Strippers' on his home city of Newcastle and the unemployment created by the collapse of old industries and the housewives who bared all to make up for the pay packets their redundant men had lost. It centred around the lives of Wendy and Bernard, where she turned to stripping after he lost his job in the shipyards. Although he had quite happily watched 'exotic dancers' over a couple of pints at the club, when it came to his wife it was a different matter. On this occasion Peter prepared to write the script by acting as a taxi driver for three weeks, ferrying the women strippers he had met to the venues at working men's clubs, where they performed. First produced by then 'Tyne Wear Theatre Company', before transferring to London’s 'Phoenix Theatre', 'Strippers' was thought to have perfectly caught the desperation and resilience of communities ravaged by Thatcherite, Government policies.
It was when he was in his sixties, in the 1990s, that saw Peter more fully committed to making his work more accessible to non-traditional theatre-going audiences and did this by writing large-scale community plays. Peter was attracted by people with stories with no way of telling them. He demonstrated his easy-going ability to get people to reveal their stories in his BBC TV Series, 'The Journey' in 1985. These were the years when every local person who wanted to be in the cast was found a part and the plays were often 'promenade theatre', performed in dockyard warehouses and derelict castles.
Peter's plays, of which more than 80 were performed in his lifetime, were, in the opinion of Jon, always "works in progress" right up to the opening night and Peter recognised that in amateur productions the players always took decisions differently from professionals. Jon said that if they said 'the sense of a line' in their words rather than his, then Peter would shout out "that’s better" and "keep the words in”. Jon said : “He’d see something in someone and develop it in the script” and "He recognised it sat more comfortably with the actors vernacular and was therefore more truthful". Peter excelled in that creative environment of rehearsals where he rethought and rewrote phrases and typed away on his portable typewriter somewhere not far offstage, or talked it up afterwards with the actors at the local pub. This meant that the play which emerged at the end of a rehearsal period often bore little resemblance to the raw script with which the company started."intended to mean that his technique is artless, his observation fresh and original, and his naturally prolific talent untainted by too much sophistication. This somewhat backhanded tribute belittles his ability." He said that in Peter's heyday, the theatre establishment had a difficulty fully accepting his work because it did not include either "popular West End comedies" or "middle-class families in the grip of emotional dilemmas". Instead, Peter wrote about "problems which seem to him more important. He is a highly skilled writer with a particular insight into Northern working-class societies and whose plays have, at best, a richness of imagination and an infectious humour". His plays : "have a much greater variety and range than is often supposed. His influence in British regional theatre has been considerable, and more than any other contemporary dramatist he carries forward the ideas of social drama".
When the BFI staged a tribute to his work in 'Peter Terson: The Artisan Playwright TV season at BFI Southbank in May 2012' the curator said : "Peter Terson wrote some of the most deeply human and talked-about dramas of the 1960s and 1970s, displaying an unparalleled ear for natural dialogue and a trademark humour. This season explores the range and depth of this enigmatic playwright". Peter himself had not seen most of his work which was being shown, for nearly 40 years. He told the Ross Gazette, with perfect understatement, that when the BFI contacted him : "I was amazed really. I would never have rated myself that highly" and "I just write about things that I noticed. Writing just kind of flowed out of me." He claimed never to have really wanted to be a writer. "It was a way of escaping from teaching"."I hadn't spoken to Mark for a long time, then I got a phone call saying : "We're on in New York", which was quite a surprise".
Peter once said :"Since working on community plays, I have found that many people have stories to tell but are unable to do so. Up to now I have written plays with Jon Hurley, a wine specialist; Doug and Carol Braddy, social workers; Didi Lodge, a farmer's wife; and Dick Parker, a retired doctor. All of these add a new dimension and a new depth to my work".