23 March 1946 |
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
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Alan Bleasdale (born 23 March 1946) is an English screenwriter, best known for social realist drama serials based on the lives of ordinary people. A former teacher, he has written for radio, stage and screen, and has also written novels.
Born in Liverpool, Lancashire, Bleasdale is an only child; his father worked in a food factory and his mother in a grocery shop. From 1951-57, he went to the St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Infant and Junior Schools in Huyton-with-Roby outside Liverpool. From 1957-64, he attended the Wade Deacon Grammar School in Widnes. In 1967, he obtained a teaching certificate from the Padgate College of Education in Warrington (which became Warrington Collegiate Institute, now part of the University of Chester).
For four years he worked as a teacher at St Columba's Secondary Modern School in Huyton from 1967–71, then King George V School (now the King George V & Elaine Bernacchi School in Bikenibeu in South Tarawa) on the Gilbert and Ellice Islands (now called Kiribati) from 1971–74, and lastly at Halewood Grange Comprehensive School (now known as Halewood College) in Halewood from 1974-75. From 1975 to 1986, he worked as a playwright at the Liverpool Playhouse (becoming associate director) and the Contact Theatre in Manchester (a University of Manchester venue).
His first successes came as the writer of radio dramas for the BBC; several of these plays followed the character of Scully and were broadcast on BBC Radio Merseyside in 1971 (Scully was a young man from Liverpool). Bleasdale's plays typically represented a more realistic, contemporary depiction of life in that city than was usually seen in the media.
The character became so successful that Bleasdale wrote a stage play, two novels and in 1978, a Play for Today ("Scully's New Year's Eve"). That same year, he wrote another single play for the BBC1 anthology series, entitled The Black Stuff about a group of Liverpudlian tarmac layers. Although the play was not transmitted for two years as it waited for an available slot, on its eventual broadcast in 1980 it won much praise, and producer Michael Wearing of BBC English Regions Drama managed to commission the sequel serial that Bleasdale had already been working on. The series, Boys from the Blackstuff, was transmitted on BBC Two in 1982, with a cast including Bernard Hill in the role of Yosser Hughes, whose catch-phrase "Gizza job" became synonymous with the mass unemployment of the Thatcher years. The series established Bleasdale as one of Britain's leading television writers and social commentators.
Bleasdale scripted the film No Surrender (1985), a black comedy in which a group of elderly Protestant hardliners are booked into a party at a pub on the same night as a group of Catholic old-timers.
Since Boys from the Blackstuff, Bleasdale has been responsible for further award-winning television dramas, including The Monocled Mutineer (1986, BBC 1), G.B.H. (1991, Channel 4) and Jake's Progress (Channel 4, 1995) the story of a couple (Robert Lindsay and Julie Walters) struggling to cope with a 'difficult' child (Barclay Wright). In 1999, Bleasdale adapted Oliver Twist for ITV. The adaptation was well received but attracted some controversy as Bleasdale expanded the narrative by adding a backstory.
In 1987, Charlottetown Festival director Walter Learning presented the Canadian premiere of the Bleasdale musical Are You Lonesome Tonight? at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, a national arts centre located on Prince Edward Island. The musical, which took a tough look at the life of Elvis Presley, attracted controversy at a festival usually known for lightweight family fare such as Anne of Green Gables - The Musical.
The chairman of the Board of Directors resigned in protest over the Bleasdale play, and objections to the rough language and subject matter were even brought up in the provincial legislature. However, the play was allowed to proceed and became a major critical and financial success for the festival that season.
After an eleven-year absence from television, Bleasdale returned in January 2011 on BBC 2 with a two-part TV film, The Sinking of the Laconia. Bleasdale had been working on the screenplay since 2004, which depicted the events surrounding the World War II ocean liner RMS Laconia and the Laconia incident.
In 1967, Bleasdale married Julie Moses; they have two sons and one daughter.
Bleasdale's house is the main location in Nickelodeon's new youth series called House of Anubis, which premiered in January 2011.
- "Alan Bleasdale". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on 24 March 2005.
- "In from the cold: Alan Bleasdale on his return to television after a decade in the wilderness". The Independent. 12 December 2010.