Tess Morris

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Tessa Jo Morris (born April 1977)[1][2][3] is a British screenwriter. [4] She was named one of BAFTA's Breakthrough Brits of 2015 after her success writing the romantic comedy Man Up.[5] She co-hosts the romantic-comedy focused podcast You Had Us At Hello, and currently writes on Hulu's Casual. She has been referred to as a "key voice standing up for the romantic comedy genre".[5]

Early career[edit]

Morris was born and raised in Wandsworth, London.[5]

She attended university in South London where she completed a TV and Film degree.[6] In 1997, while she was still in university, Morris wrote a short film titled Beer Goggles. The short was directed by David Mackenzie as part of the Lloyds Bank/Channel Four Film Challenge. Her team's film won first place and was broadcast on Channel 4.[6][7]

After university, Morris became a journalist for teen news publishers where she regularly interviewed the cast of Hollyoaks, a British soap opera.[5] After hearing of scriptwriting job opportunities, Morris became a writer for Hollyoaks at the age of 23.[5][6][8] She wrote 18 episodes over the following two years, gaining a reputation on the show for her comedic scripts.

Looking for work outside Hollyoaks, Morris wrote a pilot for a sitcom based on her relationship with her Jewish grandmother titled Granny and Annie, but had no luck in getting it made. However, this pilot did get Morris noticed by the UK production company DLT Entertainment, who then hired her to write for their sitcom, My Family.[6][8] After writing for one season of My Family, Morris spent a few years writing several spec scripts with different co-writers but never managed to sell any of them.[6]

Later career and Man Up[edit]

After struggling to sell her TV spec scripts, Morris got a job as a script reader for the BFI and Film4. During this time, she co-produced a short film called Rise of the Appliances with producer Richard Holmes. Morris claims she began to miss screenwriting and, based on some of the BFI script submissions she deemed were bad, she decided she would be able to write her own feature script.[6] After a break-up, Morris moved back in with her parents and promised them that if her feature script did not get picked up, she would find a "proper job".[6][9] In 2008, she was chosen for the BFI/Skillset Think Shoot Distribute Scheme for emerging talent in the British film industry.[8]

Morris came up with the premise for her feature, Man Up, when she was approached by a stranger at Waterloo Station who asked her if she was his blind date, which made her wonder what may have happened if she had lied and told him yes.[7][9]

She began writing Man Up in January 2011.[6] Her inspirations for this film were Nora Ephron, Woody Allen and Nancy Meyers.[10] The films which inspired her the most are When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck and As Good as it Gets.[9] To help her build the cinematic structure, Morris read Billy Mernit's book, Writing for the Romantic Comedy.[9] Morris finished the spec script in three months then submitted it to Big Talk Productions who optioned it.[6]

Man Up was directed by Ben Palmer, and starred Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. It was released in May 2015.[11]

Since the release of Man Up, Morris has continued to work with Big Talk. She is writing a romantic comedy for Big Talk and BBC Films as well as a TV pilot for Lucky Giant and NBC.[5]

Morris and Mernit host the romantic comedy-focused podcast You Had Us At Hello.[12]

In 2017, she joined the writing staff of Hulu's comedy-drama series Casual.[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Beer Goggles[14] Writer Lloyds Bank Channel 4 Film Challenge
2002 Hollyoaks[14] Writer
2005-2006 My Family [14] Script Associate
2011 Rise of the Appliances [14] Producer
2013 The Love Punch [14] Additional Writer
2015 Man Up [14] Writer


  1. ^ "Interview (Part 6): Tess Morris ("Man Up") – Go Into The Story". Go Into The Story. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  2. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
  3. ^ "MS TESSA JO MORRIS director information. Free director information. Director id 916224551". Company Check Ltd.
  4. ^ Saito, Stephen (26 April 2015). "INTERVIEW: TESS MORRIS & BEN PALMER ON THE MAYHEM AND MISCHIEF OF "MAN UP"". moveablefest.com. The Moveable Fest. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Palmer, Jim (19 Nov 2015). "Interview: Man Up screenwriter Tess Morris on romantic comedy, Simon Pegg, Bafta's Breakthrough Brits list and growing up in Wandsworth". News Shopper. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gant, Charles. "Man Up." Sight & Sound 25.6 (2015): 14-15. Film & Television Literature Index. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.
  7. ^ a b Lyttelton, Oliver (29 May 2015). "Interview: Writer Tess Morris Talks 'Man Up' Starring Simon Pegg & Lake Bell And Her Favorite Rom-Coms". blogs.indiewire.com. Indie Wire. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  8. ^ a b c "Tess Morris: Screenwriter". London Screenwriters' Festival. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  9. ^ a b c d Barton, Laura (2015-05-28). "Simon Pegg: 'I find it very hard to write for women'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  10. ^ Collinson, Gary (5 June 2015). "Interview: A conversation with Man Up screenwriter Tess Morris". flickeringmyth.com. Flickering Myth. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  11. ^ Yamato, Jen (2013-11-19). "Lake Bell To Star In Rom-Com 'Man Up' Opposite Simon Pegg; 'Inbetweeners' Ben Palmer To Direct". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  12. ^ "You Had Us At Hello by Tess Morris on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  13. ^ "Tess Morris". JTM. 2015-05-21. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Tess Morris". IMDB. Amazon.com. Retrieved 15 March 2016.

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