Catherine Johnson (playwright)

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Catherine Johnson
Born (1957-10-14) 14 October 1957 (age 58)
Suffolk, England
Occupation playwright, screenwriter
Nationality British
Notable works Rag Doll
Dead Sheep
Too Much Too Young
Mamma Mia!
Through the Wire
Notable awards Bristol Old Vic/HTV Playwriting award
Thames Television Best Play award
UK Film Council script award

Catherine Johnson (born 14 October 1957)[1] is a British playwright, producing works for stage and television. She is best known for her book for the musical Mamma Mia! and screenplay for the film of the same name, which became the highest grossing film of all time in the UK[2] and the biggest selling UK DVD of all time in January 2009.[3]

Johnson grew up in Wickwar near Wotton-under-Edge and attended Katharine Lady Berkeley's School in Wotton.[4] She was expelled from school at 16,[5] married at 18 and divorced by the age of 24. She moved to Bristol and finding herself unemployed and with one child to support and another on the way she spotted a notice in the local paper for the Bristol Old Vic/HTV West playwriting competition. She wrote Rag Doll, using the pseudonym Maxwell Smart, a play about incest and child abuse, which won the competition and was staged by the Bristol Old Vic.[6] Further plays for the Bush Theatre in London, Bristol Old Vic and Show of Strength followed along with work on television series including Casualty, Love Hurts and Byker Grove. Johnson lives in Bristol and also owns a house in Pimlico, London.[7]

In 2007 Johnson instituted The Catherine Johnson Award for Best Play[8] written by the five Pearson Playwrights' Scheme bursary winners from the previous year. Catherine won a bursary from the scheme in 1991. Catherine is a patron of the Wotton Electric Picture House[4] in Wotton-under-Edge, Bristol's Myrtle Theatre Company[9] and Arts and Community in Thornbury.[10]

Johnson (5th from right) with the cast of Mamma Mia! and ABBA (1st, 5th, and 6th from left and 2nd from right)



Television series[edit]

Television films[edit]

  • Rag Doll (HTV)
  • Just Like Eddie (HTV)
  • Where’s Willy? (HTV)
  • Sin Bin (BBC)
  • Forget You Ever Had Children (Picture Palace/ITV) in production[24]
  • Dappers (pilot – in production) BBC[25][26]

Feature films[edit]


Her career accolades to date include the Bristol Old Vic/HTV Playwriting award (1987), and the Thames Television Writer-in-Residence and Best Play awards (1991) Mamma Mia! was also nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Musical (2000) and for a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical Book (2002). Catherine received the The UK Film Council script award at The Women in Film and TV 2008 Awards and also jointly with Judy Craymer and Phyllida Lloyd, The ITV achievement of the year award.[28] Mamma Mia! (film) was named Best Musical at the UK National Film Awards in September 2008[29] and in December 2008 was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy 2008.[30] In January 2009 Mamma Mia! was nominated for the Outstanding British Film award at the BAFTA 62nd British Academy Film Awards.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Catherine Johnson". IMdB. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  2. ^ Irvine, Chris (30 October 2008). "Mamma Mia becomes highest grossing British film". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  3. ^ Staff writer (1 January 2009). "Mamma Mia tops all-time DVD charts". Daily Mirror (MGN). Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Gloucestershire cinema's Hollywood connection". Stroud Life. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  5. ^ Billen, Andrew (21 February 2009). "Catherine Johnson on Mamma Mia! and new play Suspension". London: Times Online. Retrieved 25 February 2009. 
  6. ^ "Catherine Johnson interview". Crackerjack, Bristol Evening Post. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  7. ^ Rollings, Grant (2 July 2008). "Mamma Miallionaire". The Sun (London). Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "The Catherine Johnson Award for Best Play 2007" (MS Word). Finborough Theatre. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  9. ^ Myrtle Theatre Company – Who We Are
  10. ^ "Residents to take centre stage". Thornbury Gazette. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  11. ^ Kennedy, Maev (8 October 1999). "Holiday camp comedy is no joke, says Butlins". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  12. ^ "Mamma Mia!". Littlestar. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  13. ^ Billington, Michael (26 May 2003). "Little Baby Nothing". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  14. ^ "'They know how we talk!'". The Guardian (London). 6 April 2005. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  15. ^ Marlowe, Sam (27 June 2008). "Trade It? at Bristol City Centre". TimesOnline (London). Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  16. ^ "Mamma Mia writer reveals new play". BBC Bristol. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  17. ^ Brien, Jeremy (4 March 2009). "The Stage / Reviews / Suspension". Retrieved 13 March 2009. 
  18. ^ "Casualty Files: Series 7". Holby TV. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  19. ^ "Love Hurts". IMDb. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  20. ^ "Band of Gold". IMDb. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  21. ^ "Byker Grove". IMDb. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  22. ^ "Red Productions: Love in the 21st Century". Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  23. ^ "Red Productions: Linda Green". Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  24. ^ "Projects in Development". Picture Palace. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  25. ^ Wakefield, Kate (16 February 2010). "Bristol writer Catherine Johnson on her new TV drama". BBC Bristol (BBC News). Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  26. ^ "BBC Three winter/spring 2010". BBC Press Office (BBC). Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  27. ^ "Mamma Mia!". IMDb. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  28. ^ "The Women in Film and TV 2008 Awards". The Guardian (London). 5 December 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  29. ^ "Mamma Mia! scoops two film awards". BBC News. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  30. ^ "Nominations and Winners 2008". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  31. ^ "Film Nominations in 2009 – Film – Awards – The BAFTA site". Retrieved 16 January 2009. 

External links[edit]