Frank Cottrell Boyce

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Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Born (1959-09-23) 23 September 1959 (age 55)
Rainhill, Lancashire, England
Occupation Scriptwriter, author
Nationality British
Period ca. 1984–present
Genre Screenplays, children's novels
Notable awards Carnegie Medal
Guardian Prize

Frank Cottrell-Boyce[1] (born 23 September 1959)[2] is a British screenwriter, novelist and occasional actor, known for his children's fiction and for his collaborations with film director Michael Winterbottom. He has recently achieved fame as the writer for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony and for sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, a children's classic by Ian Fleming.[3]

Cottrell-Boyce has won two major British awards for children's books, the 2004 Carnegie Medal for Millions, which originated as a film script, and the 2012 Guardian Prize for The Unforgotten Coat, which was commissioned by a charity.[3][4]

Life and career[edit]

Cottrell-Boyce was born in 1959 in St. Helens[5] to an Irish Catholic family.[6] He attended nearby St Bartholomew's Primary School and West Park secondary.[5]

He was an undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford and then completed a doctorate in English, also at Oxford University. Prior to his career as a screenwriter, he wrote criticism for the magazine Living Marxism. As a result there was supposedly always a copy of the magazine on sale in the newsagent set of long-running British soap Coronation Street, while Cottrell Boyce was on the writing staff of that programme.

After he met Michael Winterbottom, the two collaborated on Forget About Me. Winterbottom made five further films based on screenplays written by Cottrell Boyce, Butterfly Kiss, Welcome to Sarajevo, The Claim, 24 Hour Party People and Code 46. Their 2005 collaboration, A Cock and Bull Story, is their last according to Cottrell-Boyce, who asked that his contribution be credited to Martin Hardy, a pseudonym. He told Variety, "I just had to move on ... what better way to walk away than by giving Winterbottom a good script for free?"[7]

Other film directors Cottrell-Boyce has worked with include Danny Boyle (Millions), Alex Cox (Revengers Tragedy), Richard Laxton (Grow Your Own) and Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie).

Cottrell-Boyce has been praised by, among others, Roger Ebert, as one of the few truly inventive modern-day screenwriters. He has spoken against the "three-act structure" and the "hero's journey" formulas, which are often regarded as axiomatic truths in the business[8][clarification needed].

In addition to original scripts, Cottrell-Boyce has also adapted novels for the screen and written children's fiction. His first novel Millions was based on his own screenplay for the film of the same name; it was published by Macmillan in 2004. Cottrell-Boyce won the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians, recognising it as the year's best children's book published in the U.K.[9][10] His next novel Framed, he made the shortlist for both the Carnegie[11] and the Whitbread Children's Book Award. He adapted it as a screenplay for a 2009 BBC television film. He made the Carnegie shortlist again for Cosmic (2008).[11] In 2011, he was commissioned to write a sequel to the Ian Fleming children's book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,[12] which was published in October 2011 as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again[13]

In addition to Coronation Street, he wrote many episodes of the soap opera Brookside, as well as its spin-off Damon and Debbie.

He wrote and staged his first original theatre production Proper Clever at the Liverpool Playhouse during the city's European Capital of Culture Year, in 2008.

On 19 September 2011, he co-presented the Papal Visit at Hyde Park with TV personality Carol Vorderman.

In June 2012, he assumed the position of Professor of Reading (the first such professorship) at Liverpool Hope University.[14]

Cottrell-Boyce was the writer[5][15][16] of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, whose storyline he based on Shakespeare's The Tempest.[14] He collaborated with director Danny Boyle and other members of the creative team, including designer Mark Tildesley,[15] in the development of the story and themes, and wrote "short documents that told the story of each segment"[17] to provide context for choreographers, builders and other participants. He also wrote the brochure,[15][17] the stadium announcements[15] and the media guide for presenter Huw Edwards.[5][17]

Three months later, Cottrell-Boyce won the 2012 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for The Unforgotten Coat.[4] That story of a crosscultural friendship was inspired by a Mongolian girl he met as a writer visiting her school, whose family was subsequently deported by the British immigration office. It was commissioned by Reader Organisation of Liverpool and 50,000 copies were given away.[18] The Guardian Prize is judged by a panel of British children's writers and recognises the year's best book by an author who has not yet won it. Interviewed by the sponsoring newspaper, Cottrell Boyce told The Guardian that "I'm definitely a children's writer[;] that's what I want to be. I'm always trying to get rid of everything else. ... The movies I'm doing are ones that have been on the blocks for a long time."[3]

Cottrell-Boyce was made an Honorary Doctor of Literature at Edge Hill University on 16 July 2013.[19]

He is also a patron of the Insight Film Festival,[20] a biennual, interfaith festival held in Manchester, UK, to make positive contributions to understanding, respect and community cohesion.[21]

He is married and the father of seven children.[22]


  • Millions (2004)
  • Framed (2005)
  • Cosmic (2008)
  • Desirable (2008)
  • The Unforgotten Coat (2011)[23]
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again (2011)[24]
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time (2012)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon (2013)
  • Bryan Leonard (2015)




See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cottrell-Boyce". Twitter. 
  2. ^ "COTTRELL-BOYCE, Frank", Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2009 ; online edn, Nov 2009 [1]. Retrieved 2010-05-16.
  3. ^ a b c d "A life in writing: Frank Cottrell Boyce". Susanna Rustin. The Guardian 26 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  4. ^ a b c Guardian children's fiction prize 2012 (top page). theguardian. Retrieved 2012–06-04.
  5. ^ a b c d Kilmurray, Andrew (2012-08-02). "Frank Cottrell Boyce: 'St Helens’ DNA was woven into Olympic Games Opening Ceremony'". Times Online. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  6. ^ Craig, Amanda (2008-06-06). "Screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce's new children's book Cosmic is his best yet. Amanda Craig meets him". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  7. ^ Dawtrey, Adam. "Phantom scribe gets BIFA nom". Variety. Retrieved 2012-07-29. [dead link]
  8. ^ "How to write a screenplay". 9 November 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  9. ^ a b (Carnegie Winner 2004). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  10. ^ a b "Press releases for the 2004 Awards, presented in 2005 ". Press Desk. CILIP. 2012-08-18.
  11. ^ a b c d Press Desk (directory). CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-18. Quote: "media releases relating to the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards in date order." (2002 to 2006 releases concern 2001 to 2005 awards.)
  12. ^ Brown, Mark (23 March 2011). "Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to fly again". The Guardian (London). 
  13. ^ Lacey, Josh (15 October 2011). "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce – review". The Guardian (London). 
  14. ^ a b Martin Wainwright (18 June 2012). "Cosmic professor". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  15. ^ a b c d Frank Cottrell Boyce (2012-07-29). "The night we saw our mad, fantastical dreams come true". London: The Observer. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  16. ^ Tracy McVeigh and Owen Gibson (28 July 2012). "London 2012: Danny Boyle thrills audiences with inventive Olympics opening ceremony". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  17. ^ a b c Cottrell Boyce, Frank (2012-07-28). Interview with John Humphrys. Today.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ a b Alison Flood (24 October 2012). "Frank Cottrell Boyce wins Guardian children's fiction prize". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2012-10-24. 
  19. ^ "GFrank Cottrell Boyce receives honorary award". 
  20. ^
  21. ^ 'Five questions with… John Forresst, Creative Times, 6 March 2013
  22. ^ "Harper Collins Authors & Illustrators: Frank Cottrell Boyce biography". 27 May 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  23. ^ Walker Books. ISBN 978-1-4063-3385-5
  24. ^ Macmillan Children's Books ISBN 978-0-230-75773-8
  25. ^
  26. ^

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