Ian La Frenais

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Ian La Frenais
Born (1936-01-07) 7 January 1936 (age 81)
Monkseaton, Northumberland, England[1]
Occupation Screenwriter
Nationality British
Education Dame Allan's Boys School, Newcastle upon Tyne
Period 1964–present
Genre Television
Spouse Doris Vartan (1984–present)
Relatives Gladys and Cyril La Frenais (parents)[1]

Ian La Frenais, OBE (born 7 January 1936), is an English writer best known for his creative partnership with Dick Clement. They are most famous for television series including The Likely Lads, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Porridge and its sequel Going Straight, Lovejoy and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

Early life[edit]

His father was an accountant and as a child at Park Primary School in Whitley Bay La Frenais enjoyed art and writing. He then attended Dame Allan's Boys School, Newcastle upon Tyne and completed his National Service in the British Army. After working as a salesman for a tobacco company he began composing songs for a weekly satirical programme on Tyne Tees Television and moved to London where he worked for a market research company.[2]

Writing partnership with Dick Clement[edit]

Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement have enjoyed a long and successful career embracing films, television and theatre.

Their partnership began in the mid sixties with The Likely Lads, and by the end of the decade they had also written three feature films: The Jokers, Otley, (directed by Clement) and Hannibal Brooks. Clement also directed Not Only...But Also, with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and, for the big screen, Iris Murdoch's A Severed Head.

In the early seventies two other features were made - Villain, starring Richard Burton, and Catch Me a Spy, starring Kirk Douglas. In this same period they created their award winning series Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, followed by Porridge, Thick as Thieves and Going Straight. There were big screen versions of both The Likely Lads and Porridge, and a 'rockumentary', To Russia With Elton, in 1979.

Earlier in this decade, they adapted Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar into the stage musical Billy, starring Michael Crawford, which ran at London's Drury Lane Theatre for two and a half years.

By this time they were living in California, where they wrote the American version of 'Porridge' - On the Rocks, and the feature film, The Prisoner of Zenda, starring Peter Sellers.

In the eighties Clement directed John Wells's hit stage play Anyone For Denis? Films included Bullshot and Water, both directed by Clement and produced by La Frenais, and uncredited writing work on Never Say Never Again. In 1987 they wrote and produced Vice Versa. Their television work included the series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, voted best drama series of the decade.

By the beginning of the nineties La Frenais had created the long running series, Lovejoy, and co-created Spender with Jimmy Nail. In America, for four years they were writers and supervising producers for HBO's Emmy winning show, Tracey Takes On. Films include The Commitments, which won the Evening Standard's Peter Sellers Award for Comedy and BAFTA's Best Adapted Screenplay, Excess Baggage and Still Crazy. In addition they did uncredited rewrites on The Rock, starring Sean Connery and Pearl Harbor for Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay.

Recent television includes The Rotter’s Club and Archangel, starring Daniel Craig, which they adapted from best-sellers by Jonathon Coe and Robert Harris respectively.Their most recent film credits include Goal! The Dream Begins; the animated film Flushed Away; Across the Universe; The Bank Job.

La Frenais and Clement were awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list.

They have written the book for two stage musicals in development, Juke Box Hero and Victoria’s Secret. Two new television series will air in 2017: a new version of Porridge, starring Kevin Bishop for the BBC and Henry IX for UKTV, starring Charles Edwards.

Other credits[edit]

In addition to his long-running collaborations with Clement, La Frenais has created, written and/or contributed to many other TV series including Thick as Thieves (1974), The Two Ronnies, several episodes of the BBC's Comedy Playhouse, The Other 'Arf (1980–81), the hit 1990s BBC detective series Spender (co-written with actor/singer Jimmy Nail), and episodes of Tracey Ullman's sketch comedy series Tracey Takes On....

Since 1984, he has been married to artist Doris Vartan, the mother of actor Michael Vartan. He was appointed an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list.

Writing credits (with Dick Clement)[edit]

The Likely Lads (TV, 1964–66)

Not Only... But Also (TV, 1965)

The Further Adventures of Lucky Jim (TV, 1967)

Mr. Aitch (TV, 1967)

Vacant Lot (TV, 1967)

Otley (1968)

Hannibal Brooks (1968)

Villain (1971)

To Catch a Spy (1972)

The Two Ronnies TV, 1972)

Seven of One (TV, 1973) (aka 7 of 1 or 7 of One)

Ha-Tarnegol (1973, with Haim Hefer)

Thick as Thieves (TV, 1974)

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (TV, 1973–74)

Porridge (TV, 1974–77)

On the Rocks (TV, 1975–76)

Going Straight (TV, 1978)

The Prisoner of Zenda (1979)

Porridge 1979 (US: Doing Time)

The New Adventures of Lucky Jim (TV, 1982)

Never Say Never Again (1983, with Lorenzo Semple Jr., uncredited)

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (TV, 1983-2004)

Sunset Limousine (TV, 1983, with Wayne Kline)

Water (1985, with Bill Persky)

Vice Versa (1988)

The Commitments (1991, with Roddy Doyle)

Tracey Ullman: A Class Act (TV, 1992)

The Old Boy Network (TV, 1992)

Tracey Ullman Takes On New York (TV, 1993)

Full Stretch (TV, 1993)

Lovejoy (TV, 1991-94)

Excess Baggage (1997, with Max D. Adams)

Still Crazy (1998)

Tracey Takes On... (TV, 1996-99)

Archangel (2005)

The Rotters' Club (TV, 2005)

Goal! (2005, with Mike Jeffries & Adrian Butchart) (US: Goal! The Dream Begins)

Flushed Away (2006, with Christopher Lloyd, Joe Keenan and William Davies)

Across the Universe (2007)

The Bank Job (2008)

Killing Bono (2011, with Ben Bond)

Spies of Warsaw (2013)

Porridge (TV, 2016)

Porridge (TV, 2017)

Henry IX (TV, 2017)

My Generation (2017)


  1. ^ a b Ian La Frenais Biography (1937-)
  2. ^ Richard Webster; Dick Clement; Ian la Frenais (2001). Porridge The Inside Story. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0-7472-3294-6. 

External links[edit]