Greater Manchester Television, Film & Broadcasting
(Born 1969) 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” . However, due to “irreconcilable differences” the couple split up in March 2003. More recently, Thomson has made a long run appearance in “Coronation Street”. 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.
(Born 1948) Michael 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. His 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 year. As 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. Michael Wood lives in North London with his wife and their two daughters .
Sir Nicholas Hytner
(Born 1956) 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 Royal 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.
(Born 1942) 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. Her 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. Lynda 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”.
(1909-1987) 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 speech. Almost 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.
(Born 1974) 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” . She 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.