David Leland

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David Leland
Born (1947-04-20) 20 April 1947 (age 75)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, actor
SpouseSabrina Canale (m. 2007)

David Leland (born 20 April 1947) is an English film director, screenwriter and actor who came to international fame with his directorial debut Wish You Were Here in 1987.[1]


He initially trained as an actor at Central School of Speech and Drama.[2] In 1963, he was part of the breakaway group of Central staff and students who formed Drama Centre London.[3] After several small parts as actor he began his collaboration with British television director Alan Clarke in 1981.[4] Their film Made in Britain was well received and featured the first screen role of actor Tim Roth.[5] Made in Britain won the Prix Italia (an international Television award) in 1984.[4] In 1986, Leland and director Neil Jordan co-wrote the screenplay for the thriller-drama Mona Lisa, featuring Bob Hoskins.[6] With Jordan, he was nominated for BAFTA, Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America awards.[7]

He then wrote Personal Services in 1986.[8] It was directed by Terry Jones and concerned Cynthia Payne, a real-life British madam who ran a private brothel.[9] Julie Walters took the leading role. While Personal Services dealt with the adult life of Cynthia Payne, Leland's next film, Wish You Were Here, concerned her teenage years.[10] This film was a success at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival and it made the young British actress Emily Lloyd a star.[11] It was awarded the FIPRESCI-Award at Cannes and the BAFTA for best screenplay.[12][13]

In 1991, Leland directed the successful stage musical A Tribute to the Blues Brothers, which played on the West End and then toured for ten years in the UK and Australia.[14]

Leland's next two films, Checking Out (with Jeff Daniels) and The Big Man (with Liam Neeson), failed at the box office and with the critics but have since been successful in the private market. In 1997, Leland co-wrote and directed The Land Girls starring Rachel Weisz and Anna Friel and, in 2000, wrote and directed Episode 6 of the HBO Miniseries Band of Brothers.[4][15]

In 2012, Leland joined the Showtime series The Borgias as co-showrunner and executive producer (alongside Neil Jordan, whom he had worked with on Mona Lisa), writing the last five episodes of its second season and directing its last two episodes.[3] He described his stint as co-showrunner and executive producer as a "hands-on" experience and having to commit to extensive research on the Renaissance.[3]

After the death of his friend George Harrison, Leland was closely involved in the former Beatle's memorial, Concert for George, and directed a cinematic documentary of the night to be put on general release, the DVD of which went platinum.[16][17] The documentary also won a Grammy Award. His also directed the Dino De Laurentiis produced Virgin Territory, released in 2007.[18]

David Leland is married to Sabrina Canale (whom he met in Italy during the shooting of "Virgin Territory") and has four children from his previous marriages: Chloë (seen in Wish You Were Here), Abigail (seen in Wish You Were Here), Rosie, and Grace (seen in The Land Girls).






Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (24 July 1987). "Wish You Were Here (1987)". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Soham Grammarians - David Leland (1952 entry)". www.sohamgrammar.org.uk.
  3. ^ a b c Whitney, Hilary (2 July 2011). "Q&A: Writer/Director David Leland". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "BFI Screenonline: Leland, David (1947-) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk.
  5. ^ "Made in Britain (1981) - Alan Clarke". AllMovie.
  6. ^ "Mona Lisa (1986)". BFI.
  7. ^ "BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org.
  8. ^ "Personal Services (1987)". BFI.
  9. ^ "Personal Services (1987) - Terry Jones | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" – via www.allmovie.com.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Wish You Were Here movie review (1987) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com/.
  11. ^ "Wish You Were Here (1987) - David Leland | Review | AllMovie" – via www.allmovie.com.
  12. ^ "Movies".
  13. ^ "Wish You Were Here (1987) - David Leland | Awards | AllMovie" – via www.allmovie.com.
  14. ^ https://cdn.casarotto.co.uk/files/cvs/David-Leland.pdf?mtime=20200103153048[bare URL PDF]
  15. ^ "David Leland | TV, Documentary and Other Appearances". AllMovie.
  16. ^ "Concert for George (2003)". BFI.
  17. ^ "Concert for George | Concord - Recorded Music".
  19. ^ "Flying into the Wind (1983)". BFI.

External links[edit]