Tony Marchant (playwright)

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For other persons named Tony Marchant, see Tony Marchant (disambiguation)
Tony Marchant
Born 11 July 1959
East London, UK
Occupation Screenwriter, Playwright

Tony Marchant (born 11 July 1959, East London) is a British playwright and television dramatist. In 1982 he won the London Critics' Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright for The Lucky Ones and Raspberry.[1] In 1999 he won the British Academy Television Awards Dennis Potter Award for services to television. His television work includes the acclaimed Holding On (1997), Never, Never, starring John Simm and Take Me Home.

Early life[edit]

Marchant, whose his father was a printer and mother a school dinner lady, was born and raised on a council estate in Wapping in the East End of London, which he has described as, "a very hard, heavy place to live sometimes."[2] He has stated that while Estates have changed since he grew up on one, the poverty is still the same and it hasn't gone away.[3] He was educated at St Joseph's Academy, Blackheath and went on to become a London boxing champion and a member of the England boxing squad.[2]

Inspired by, "the DIY ethic of the Jam and the Clash," he got his start in writing at the age of 18, when a selection of poems he had submitted to Riot Stories, an imprint established by Jam musician Paul Weller, were published.[4]

Life & career in the 1980s[edit]

His big break came in 1980, when his first play Remember Me?, which he had submitted to 20 theatres, was accepted and staged by the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London, an experience which he likens to wining the lottery.[4] It was at this point that he ceased pursuing a career in heavyweight professional boxing, although, "getting punched in the face," was, he has claimed, "very good preparation for being a writer."[4]

His second play London Calling, which took its name from a song by the Clash, was combined with Dealt With for the double bill Thick As Thieves, produced at the Theatre Royal Stratford East's The Square Thing studio theatre in 1981. Looking back on his early career he has stated that at the time he wondered if he were part of, "some sort of liberal social engineering," which advantaged him as an ex-boxer from a council estate with no university education.[2]

His next two productions, Stiff and Raspberry, were put on at the Soho Poly in 1982. That same year The Lucky Ones was staged at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and later re-staged at Islington's The Old Red Lion in 1986. These productions won him the London Critics' Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright that year.[1]

Welcome Home, Marchant's play about a squad of Falkland War veteran paratroopers meeting up to act as pall-bearers for one of their squad killed in the war, debuted at Hemel Hempstead's Old Town Hall Arts Centre before being taken on a nationwide tour by Paines Plough which concluded at the Royal Court Theatre in 1983.[5] It was later re-staged at The Old Red Lion in 1989.

BBC Television's production of Raspberry in 1984 gave Marchant his break in television. He credits the smooth transition that he and his generation had into screenwriting to the vogue for televised plays during these decades.[6]

Straddling theatre and television with Lazydays Ltd., produced at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1986, followed by London Weekend Television's broadcast of The Moneymen in 1987, he has stated a preference for the theatre due to the feedback from a live audience,[6] but his survival in the industry has been credited to his move to television.[2]

Marchant's final theatrical works to date consisted of The Attractions produced at Soho Poly, which was published by Amber Lane Press the following year, Marty Cruickshank produced at the Royal Court Theatre's Theatre Upstairs, and Speculators produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Centre's The Pit, all in 1987.

The BBC Television productions of Death of a Son for Screen Two, The Attractions for Screenplay, and the three-part miniseries Take Me Home, marked his permanent move into television in 1989.

Life & career in the 1990s[edit]

Methuen Drama, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, released a compilation volume, consisting of the scripts for Welcome Home, Raspberry and The Lucky Ones in 1996.[1]

He has also written the comedy film Different for Girls.

Life & career in the 2000s[edit]

He appeared on University Challenge (BBC Two) in a special actors-versus-writers episode in January 2006.

He was featured in the writers section of the Broadcast magazine Hot 100 2006.

In 2007 he wrote an ITV series, Whistleblowers, for ITV, and an award-winning single film, Mark of Cain for C4.

In 2008, David Tennant starred in a BBC1 single film, Recovery, in which Marchant explored the aftermath of brain injury on a man's life and family.

In 2009 he wrote the teleplay for the CBC Television movie Diverted starring British actor David Suchet and Canadian actor Shawn Ashmore. This drama centred on the impact the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks had on the town of Gander, Newfoundland as hundreds of flights were forced to land outside American airspace.

Life & career in the 2010s[edit]

He wrote episodes for all 3 series of Garrow's Law, the film The Dig and, broadcast in 2012, the hard-hitting drama about the British probation service Public Enemies, all for BBC1.


Marchant has inspired a new generation of writers, most notably, Danny Brocklehurst and Jed Mercurio, who both cite him as an inspiration.[citation needed]

Honours & awards[edit]

Marchant received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Hertfordshire during a ceremony at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban on November 16, 2011. This was awarded, according to the university, "in recognition of his commitment to creative ambition and integrity in British drama."[7]

He was resident writer at the Royal National Theatre.

Film & television credits[edit]

Film/Series Production Company Years Functioned as Notes
Writer Producer Details
Raspberry BBC One 1984 Yes No TV film
Summer Season BBC Television 1985 Yes No One Episode - Reservations
The Moneymen LWT 1987 Yes No TV film
Screen Two: Death of a Son BBC Two 1989 Yes No TV film
Take Me Home BBC One 1989 Yes No Three-part mini-series
Screenplay: The Attractions BBC Two 1989 Yes No TV film
Goodbye Cruel World BBC Two 1992 Yes No Three-part mini-series
Lovejoy BBC One 1993 Yes No One Episode - God Helps Those
Stages: Speaking in Tongues 1994 Yes No TV film
Different for Girls BBC Films 1996 Yes No Theatrical film
Into the Fire BBC Television 1996 Yes No Three-part mini-series
Holding On BBC Two 1997 Yes No Eight-part mini-series
Great Expectations BBC One 1999 Yes No TV film
Kid in the Corner 1999 Yes No Three-part mini-series
Never Never Channel 4 2000 Yes No TV film
Bad Blood ITV 2001 Yes No TV film
Swallow Channel 4 2001 Yes No Three-part mini-series
Crime and Punishment BBC Two 2002 Yes No TV film
The Canterbury Tales BBC One 2003 Yes No One episode - The Knight's Tale
Passer By BBC One 2004 Yes No TV film
The Family Man BBC One 2006 Yes No TV film
The Mark of Cain Channel 4 2007 Yes No TV film
Recovery BBC One 2007 Yes No TV film
The Whistleblowers ITV 2007 Yes Yes Creator & executive producer Various episodes
Diverted CBC Television 2009 Yes No TV film
Garrow's Law BBC One 2009-2011 Yes Yes Co-creator & associate producer Various episodes
Postcode 2011 Yes No Three-part mini-series
Public Enemies BBC One 2012 Yes No Three-part mini-series
Leaving ITV 2012 Yes No Three-part mini-series
The Secret Agent BBC One 2016 Yes Yes Executive producer Three-part mini-series


  1. ^ a b c "Tony Marchant". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d "We can be heroes". The Guardian. 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  3. ^ "East End boy goes back to his roots". The Guardian. 2000-10-22. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  4. ^ a b c "Portrait of the artist: Tony Marchant, screenwriter and playwright". The Guardian. 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  5. ^ "Welcome Home by Tony Marchant". Paines Plough. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Tony Marchant and Broadchurch's Chris Chibnall on screenwriting". The Guardian. 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  7. ^ "Award Winning Writer Tony Marchant Receives Honorary Degree". University of Hertfordshire. 2013-07-04. Retrieved 2016-08-14. 

External links[edit]