Sally Wainwright (born 1963) is a British BAFTA winning television writer and playwright. She won the 2009 Writer of the Year Award given by the RTS in 2009 for Unforgiven. She is known for work on the BBC dramas Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. The latter won BAFTA's award for best series and Wainwright was voted best writer.
Wainwright was born in Huddersfield in 1963 and brought up in Sowerby Bridge where she attended Sowerby Bridge High School. She attended York University to take English literature and creative writing. She believes that she is probably dyslexic, as she has difficulty in reading a complete novel and prefers to just read the dialogue.
After university she unsuccessfully took a play to the Edinburgh Festival but she found an agent for her writing in the process. Meanwhile, she worked as a bus driver. She left the driving job after she started writing for the Radio 4 series The Archers. One of her contributions was to write an untypical story for the long running radio soap where the village shop was robbed. After that she wrote for Coronation Street, developing her writing skills, from 1994 to 1999. She was mentored by Kay Mellor, the writer of the TV series Band of Gold, who encouraged her to leave the safe job on the soap and write. She created the TV series At Home with the Braithwaites about a woman who had secretly won the lottery. The programme was nominated for many awards. She won the 2009 Writer of the Year Award given by the RTS in 2009 for Unforgiven which took several awards including best TV series.
Wainwright says that her strong female flawed characters are almost real to her and arrive fully formed in her imagination. She likes to control the television that is created and has done some directing and production of her own work to ensure the scenery and dialogue reflects Yorkshire. In 2011 she wrote Scott and Bailey, a series about two female police officers. The idea for the series came from the leading actresses and former Detective Inspector Diane Taylor, who assisted with bring the series to the air.
Wainwright based the plot of her series Last Tango in Halifax on her mother's story. Wainwright's father died in 2001 after an unsuccessful marriage. Her mother, Dorothy, moved to Oxfordshire to live with her daughter and rediscovered a lost love, Alec Walker, via Friends Reunited. With her mother's permission, Wainwright developed the story of how she remarried so rapidly, publishing series's extracts to her mother before broadcast.
When she told the story to Nicola Shindler, she suggested she turn her mother's experience into a television series. Shindler became the series' executive producer. Both Last Tango in Halifax and her crime series Scott and Bailey were both turned down by both BBC and ITV before both were accepted respectively. The former was voted by BAFTA to be best series in 2012 and Wainwright was given the award for best writer.
In 2014 Wainwright was living in Oxfordshire. She owns a cat and is a feminist.
Original television productions
Her original television productions include:
- Happy Valley (2014)
- Last Tango in Halifax (2012)
- Scott & Bailey (2011)
- Unforgiven (2009)
- Bonkers (2007)
- Dead Clever (2007)
- The Amazing Mrs Pritchard (October 2006)
- ShakespeaRe-Told: The Taming of the Shrew (2005)
- Jane Hall (2005) (for which she drew on her own experiences as a bus driver in the 1980s
- The Canterbury Tales 'The Wife of Bath' (2003)
- Sparkhouse (2002)
- At Home with the Braithwaites (2000)
She has also written for the following soap operas:
- "Programme Awards 2009". RTS.org.uk.
- Graham, Alison (2013). "Can't "bold and memorable female characters" be part of any drama?". Radio Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- "Sally Wainwright: My Yorkshire". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Williamson, Charlotte (22 December 2013). "My mother's late-life love is charming the nation". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Frost, Vicky (6 June 2014). "Sally Wainwright: 'I like writing women, they're heroic'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- "Sally Wainwright Desert Island Discs" (Broadcast). BBC Radio 4. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
- "TV cop dramas irritated me, so I made my own, says the former Detective Inspector behind Scott And Bailey". Manchester Evening News. June 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Wainwright, Sally (9 November 2012). "Can you fall in love at 75? Screenwriter Sally Wainwright on how her mother's sweet late-life romance inspired her new drama". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Lockyer, Daphne (1 July 2006). "In the driving seat". The Times. Retrieved 3 March 2011.