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Manchester Television, Film & Broadcasting

John Thomson

John Thomson of Cold Feet, Stan the Man and the Fast Show

Salford born John Thomson really found fame and fortune
when he appeared in the popular television series “Cold
Feet” , though he had already been a stalwart of the
award-winning “Fast Show” supporting Paul Whitehouse
in the hit comedy show as well as regularly appearing as the
inept pub landlord in “Men Behaving Badly”. His
on screen versatility and humour have been in marked contrast
to a troublesome personal life with a struggle against alcohol
abuse at the Priory Clinic in Cheshire, alleged “romps”
with fans after the show, a drink driving ban and general rowdyism
followed by at least two trips to the A&E department at
the local hospital. John lived for a time in London, but later
returned to live in Didsbury, Manchester, a home which he shared
with interior designer and partner Sam Sharp. The couple planned
to be married after the birth of their first child in November
2002. At
that time Thomson was appearing in the starring role in an ITV
six part television drama as “Stan the Man” .
due to “irreconcilable differences” the couple split
up in March 2003. More
recently, Thomson has made a long run appearance in “Coronation
In 2011, it was announced that Thomson would be joining the
cast of the BBC television series “Waterloo Road” ,
and later that year he would be appearing next to the original
cast in six online-only episodes of “The Fast Show”
in November.


Michael Wood,  historian, author and broadcaster

Wood was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Oriel College,
Oxford, where he did postgraduate research in Anglo-Saxon and
medieval history. He worked for a time in journalism before
moving on as a television writer and presenter of historical
documentaries, travel and culture films. His books have been
distinguished by the way in which they bring the medieval world
to life, and make potentially dry and dusty subjects compelling
and entertaining whilst still being erudite and informative.
His several critically acclaimed television series have included
“Art of the Western World”, “Legacy”, “In
the Footsteps of Alexander the Great” and “Conquistadors” ,
most of which have also been published as best-selling highly
praised books. He has been the author of over seventy television
films that have been seen by appreciative world-wide audiences.
films have been of predominantly historical themes, though there
are also travel documentaries in his repertoire, including “Great
Railway Journeys of the World”, “River Journeys”
and “The Sacred Way” . His political films have
included the award winning “Saddam’s Killing Fields”,
“Hitler’s Search for the Holy Grail” , and “Conquistadors” ,
a BBC television series of four epic journeys following the
progress of the Spanish Conquest of the New World. In 2001,
this series the accolade of the best reviewed TV series of the
a young student, Wood hitchhiked around Greece, sleeping rough
in the mountains at Mycenae and Crete. Unsurprisingly, therefore,
he has produced 15 films in Greece and among publications on
this topic are “In Search of the Trojan” and
“In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great” ,
both of which have been translated into several European languages,
including Greek. Besides
Greece, Wood is an aficionado of the Indian civilisation and
he has made many visits to the subcontinent, as well as making
films like “Darshan and Legacy” , and writing
“The Smile of Murugan” . Other academic writings
have included “In Search of the Dark Ages”, “Domesday” ,
and essays entitled “In Search of England”.
His latest project “The Life and Times of William Shakespeare”,
is in production and due to be broadcast in early 2003. Recently
he has written and presented a major new series for BBC television,
entitled “India” , and a book of the series
is in publication.
Wood lives in North London with his wife and their two daughters .

Nicholas Hytner

Nicholas Hytner, Producer

Born Nicholas Robert Hytner on 7th May 1956 into a professional
Manchester family, (his father was a barrister), Nicholas Hytner
has emerged as a leading British screen and stage director.
He went to Manchester Grammar School where met his lifelong
friend, Steven Pimlott who also became a stage director. At
MGS he was a regular performer in school plays and entertainments.
He went on to Trinity Hall, Cambridge to read English. Here,
both Hytner and Pimlott acted together while Hytner directed
plays by Brecht and as well as a “Footlights”
revue. After Cambridge he took a job assisting in productions
at the English National Opera company and later went on to work
in provincial theatres including Manchester’s
Exchange Theatre
where he was Associate Director from 1985
to 1989. He went to the Royal National Theatre in 1989 and was
Associate Director from 1990 until 1997. In 2000 he was appointed
as the eleventh Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary
Theatre. He has directed many stage and film performances including
opera, musicals and Shakespeare, as well as the National Theatre’s
production of “The Madness of George III”, “Miss
Saigon” , and “Carousel” . Other work
includes “Measure
For Measure” in 1987 at the Royal Shakespeare Company
(the RSC), “The Tempest” in 1988, and “King
Lear” in 1990.
At the National Theatre he has directed “Ghetto”,
“The Cripple of Inishmaan” and “Carousel”. His
opera direction has included “Rienzi”, “Xerxes” ,
and ” The Force of Destiny” for the English
National Opera. His film direction includes “The Madness
of King George” in 1994, which received the 1996 British
Academy Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, was nominated
for the 1996 British Academy BAFTA Film Award for Best Film,
as well as the David Lean Award for Direction. It was also nominated
at the Cannes Film Festival for the Golden Palm Award. Nominated
for four Oscars, and won one for Best Art Direction.
Other film and television direction has included Arthur Miller’s
“The Crucible” (1996), “Twelfth Night”
(1998), “The Object of my Affection” (1998),
“Chicago” (1999), Alan Bennett’s “The
Lady in the Van” , “Cressida” and “Orpheus
Descending” . Since April 2003 he has been Director
of the national Theatre. He was knighted in the 2010 New Years
Honours List for services to dram a.

Lynda Baron

Lynda Baron


Lynda Baron is a stalwart of British comedy, and though she
has made few appearances in movie films, she is well known for
live theatre and television comedy appearances. She
is probably best remembered as nurse Gladys Emmanuel in the
hit TV series “Open All Hours” (1983-1984)
which starred Ronnie Barker and David Jason. She
was born on the 24th March 1942 in Urmston, Manchester, is married
to John Lee and has two children, Sarah and Morgan.
numerous television roles have included the “Play of
the Month”, “Don’t Forget to Write”, “Heartlands”,
“Grundy”, “Z Cars”, “KYTV”, “Dr
Who”, “Minder”, “The Cannon & Ball Show”,
“Kelly”, “Plaza Patrol”, “The Upper
Hand” and an outstandingly memorable role as Lily Bless-Her
in BBC Television’s long-running hit comedy “Last of
the The Summer” Wine” . Her
film credits include “Carry On Columbus” in
1995 and “Hands of the Ripper” , earlier in
1971 in which she was accompanied by Angharad Rees.
also starred briefly in the stage version of “The Full
Monty” , having taken over the West End role of Jeanette
Burmeister from 10th June to 31st August 2002. More recently
she has played a major role in the ITV series “Fat Friends “.
In August 2010 she appeared in an episode of ITV’s Agatha Christie’s
“Marple “. Later that year she also appeared
in the BBC4 television drama “The Road to Coronation
Street” in which she played the actress Violet Carson
(Ena Sharples) and was nominated for the 2011 British Academy
Television Award for Best Supporting Actress for this role.
Up to early 2011 she starred alongside Maureen Lipman and Roy
Hudd in a West End production of J B Priestley’s “When
We Are Married”. She has also made several appearances
in the television soap opera “Doctors”.

Al Read

Al Read, Comedian

Al Read was born on 3 March 1909 in Salford. His early life
was spent in business in the family meat-processing business,
which had been started by his father. He rapidly developed a
successful comedy career and was a popular after dinner speaker
with his unique brand of witty and well-observed humour. Although
he made several television series in the 60’s, he preferred
the medium of radio and his television career never really took
off. Read made his radio debut in 1950 and by 1954 he was high
on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the London
Palladium. In 1955 impresario Jack Hylton placed him in the
West End revue “Such Is Life” alongside the
rising star, Shirley Bassey. His
humorous observation of the lives and idiosyncrasies of ordinary
people were based on a decidedly working-class Lancashire experiences
and he became known for catchphrases like “Right Monkey!”
and “You’ve met ’em!” . Read was a superbly
funny cabaret comedian with a keen ear for detail in idiomatic
forgotten now, recordings of his monologues are becoming increasingly
popular. Monologues such as “Try It The Other Way Round
“, “Our Joe Won’t Be With Us Much Longer”
and “You’re Seeing Too Much of the Telly” are
now available on reissued BBC audio tapes. Al
Read died on 9 September 1987.

Sara Cox

Sara Cox, Radio and Television Prsenter


Sara Cox was born on 13th December 1974 in Bolton and is a well
established radio and television presenter, best known perhaps
for her work on the BBC Radio 1’s “Breakfast Show”
– a job she has held since March, 2000. After
leaving school she had intended a career in modelling and was
talent spotted in 1994 for “The Girlie Show” .
actually joined Radio 1 in September 1999 as co-presenter of
a Saturday lunchtime show followed by “The Sunday Surgery” ,
which won a Sony Gold Radio Award for Public Service in May
2000. Known to her friends as “Coxsey”, she is married
to John Carter and now lives in Kentish Town in London.


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This page last updated 20 Dec 11.