Gaby Chiappe

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Gaby Chiappe is a British screenwriter, known for her original works: television show The Level, and the films Their Finest and Misbehaviour.

Early life and education[edit]

Chiappe was born in Gibraltar to Mary and William Chiappe. When she was three, the family moved to Brighton, England; Chiappe attended the Cardinal Newman Catholic School, where Mary was an English teacher and taught her daughter in the sixth form. Chiappe was then admitted to New Hall of the University of Cambridge, reading Archaeology. After her first year, she transferred to studying English Literature.[1] At Cambridge, she "did as much acting as possible", and wanted to continue after graduating.[1] She met future husband Dominic Gray at university.[1]


Chiappe worked in fringe theatre for a decade after graduating from Cambridge. To make a living, she took up various jobs in this time, including what Gibraltar Magazine summarises as "teaching English as a foreign language, selling vintage clothes in Kensington market, reviewing plays, reading scripts and doing bits of journalism".[1] As part of the theatre company Trouble and Strife she contributed to writing two plays.[1] During this time, she also unsuccessfully tried to write a novel.[2] However, she found this lifestyle unsatisfying and felt that her playwriting was not building a career. Chiappe and husband Gray then moved to Leeds in 1997, when Chiappe was pregnant with their first child; at the same time, she was offered the opportunity to write a trial script, like a writing audition, for television show Family Affairs, which a friend was working on. Chiappe got the job – while she was writing commissioned scripts for the show, she realised that "script writing was the culmination of all that interested her".[1] She was writing the second commissioned script for the show when she went into labour.[1]

Broadly speaking, I'd say the deadlines in film are less punishing; mainly because it is in development for so long and by the time you're shooting it, it's written. In television, you're often writing to production deadlines that are tight from the start [...] but it was the one-offs that were really hard to handle as these would involve going down to London [...] especially when the children were young. [...] However, being a screenwriter does, in the main, mean that you can do your work whenever you want.

– Gaby Chiappe[1][2]

Not wanting to miss her career by being a stay-at-home mum, Chiappe was helped by Gray's parents (her own having moved to Spain) to care for her child as she worked on Family Affairs. In 2000, Chiappe had another child; she worked on Family Affairs until 2002, in a busy work environment. After a few years as a working screenwriter, Chiappe got her first agent, Christine Glover, who had been recommended by a friend and who was still her agent in 2017.[1] Regarding writing for television, Chiappe has said that she is a slow writer and meets the industry's strict deadlines only by working at all hours;[1] she also noted that this made her miss out on moments with her children and caused some tensions.[2] From 2000 to 2015, Chiappe worked on various other soaps and television shows as a commissioned writer, and during this time she began developing her own series: The Level, which she co-created with Alex Perrin and which aired in 2016.[1]

In her last commissioned television role, writing for Scottish drama Shetland, Chiappe and script executive Clare Batty wrote a difficult storyline about rape, which was received positively and described as important and powerful, and not gratuitous.[3] Chiappe had worked with the organisation Rape Crisis at their HQ in Leeds to develop the storyline.[4] Chiappe and Batty received praise for how they presented the subject.[3][4]

Gaby Chiappe (left) in her cameo in the "Carrot Film" of Their Finest

Chiappe had starting working on her first feature film screenplay, Their Finest, an adaptation from the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half, in 2008 or 2009; it was filmed five or six years later,[a] with both her sons as extras.[1] Chiappe also appears in a cameo in one of the World War II propaganda films shown in the film.[5] In this process, Chiappe is said in Gibraltar Magazine to have "found there wasn’t too big a difference between writing scripts for television and film".[1] In 2017, Chiappe was adapting another novel, Dark Matter, for screenplay.[1][2] She has said that as her children got older and needed less care, she was able to have more freedom in her work, allowing her to write a feature film and develop a television series.[2]

In 2018, the Writers' Guild of Great Britain released a report they had commissioned about gender inequality in screenwriting, simultaneously launching a campaign called Equality Writes, backed by various female writers, including Chiappe, and asking for an equal split of writers by 2020.[6][7][8]

Expanding into more films, Chiappe co-wrote the 2020 film Misbehaviour with Rebecca Frayn, about the 1970 Miss World pageant and Women's liberation movement.[9] In 2019, she was set to write for the Ed Rubin television development The Beast Must Die.[10]


Sources: Gibraltar Magazine;[1] Film Stories;[9] BIFA;[11] WGGB[12]

Year(s) Work Role Notes
1997–2002 Family Affairs Writer 45 episodes
2000–2003 Doctors Writer 7 episodes (series 1 to 5)
2002–2004 EastEnders Writer 9 episodes
2002–2005 Holby City Writer 4 episodes (including a Christmas special crossover with Casualty)
2003–2005 Born and Bred Writer 4 episodes (series 3 and 4)
2005–2007 Casualty Writer 4 episodes
2007–2009 Survivors Writer 2 episodes (series 1 and 2)
2007–2009 Lark Rise to Candleford Writer 6 episodes (series 1 to 3)
2011–2012 Vera Writer 2 episodes (series 2 and 3)
2012–2013 The Paradise Writer 3 episodes (series 1 and 2)
2013–2015 Shetland Writer 5 episodes (series 1 and 3); nominated for a British Academy Scotland Award
2016 Their Finest Writer; cameo appearance Original screenplay adapted from novel; nominated for the British Independent Film Award for Best Debut Screenwriter and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Screenplay
2016 The Level Co-creator; co-writer 6-part series
2020 Misbehaviour Co-writer Original screenplay


  1. ^ She began writing it when her eldest son started secondary school; children enter secondary school the September when they are aged 11. Her eldest son was born in 1997 and so would be 11 in either September 2008 or September 2009. Filming took place when he was in sixth form, an academic group of 16–18 year-olds, so five or six years after the beginning of secondary school.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Brufal, Mike (31 October 2017). "Gaby's Finest – Career in film and TV script writing". Gibraltar Magazine. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Mayer, So (6 March 2017). "Interview: Gaby Chiappe". Raising Films. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b Griffiths, Rosalind (13 March 2016). "Henshall is hoping for another series of Shetland". The Shetland Times. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b Cleeves, Ann (20 February 2016). "The Shetland rape episode reflected horrific reality. Why can't other dramas do the same?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  5. ^ Cooper, Freda (19 April 2017). "Exclusive Interview – Screenwriter Gaby Chiappe on Their Finest". Flickering Myth. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Women shut out of top screenwriting jobs for over 10 years". Writers' Guild of Great Britain. 22 May 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Women screenwriters still struggle for equality". Funny Women. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  8. ^ McCreesh, Louise (23 May 2018). "Women have written just 28% of TV shows since 2001". Digital Spy. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  9. ^ a b Brew, Simon (20 December 2019). "Misbehaviour: first trailer for a must-see 2020 movie". Film Stories. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  10. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (15 January 2019). "Scott Free London Managing Director Ed Rubin Leaves Firm As UK Arm Undergoes Shakeup". Deadline. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Their Finest · BIFA · British Independent Film Awards". British Independent Film Awards. 11 October 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Writers' Guild Awards 2018". Writers' Guild of Great Britain. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2020.

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