Saturday, 23 March 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old Liverpudlian, tv dramatist called Alan Bleasdale

Alan, a scriptwriter whose work has been firmly rooted in Liverpool, the city of his birth and whose plays and tv series have been a blend of social realism and humour which at times border on black comedy and farce, is 67 years old today. Like millions of others I have seen Alan's best work on tv in the 1980's, where in Margaret Thatcher's Britain, it had a particular resonance.
What you possibly didn't know about Alan, that he  :

* an only child whose father worked in a food factory and his mother in a grocery shop, educated at first in a Roman Catholic junior school and then a grammar school and wanting to become a professional footballer, was taken on by Liverpool Football Club as an amateur and later said : " In the end they told me that, basically, I would never be quite quick enough over the first five yards, It was one of the worst days of my life."

* had his first success came as a writer of radio drama for the BBC based on a young man from Liverpool called 'Scully', broadcast in 1971, followed by a stage play and 2 novels based on the character.

* left school and had a variety of jobs, including bus conductor, before training to be a physical education teacher in Warrington and after graduating in 1967, worked in a school in Huyton, another for 3 years in the 'Gilbert and Ellis Islands' in the Pacific (left), writing more stories about Scully under a mosquito net. 

* returned to Britain to teach  before working as a playwright at the Liverpool Playhouse from 1975 to 86 and wrote a play for the BBC entitled 'The Black Stuff', which involved a group of Liverpudlian tarmac or 'blackstuff' layers, who did a 'foreigner', a job for a farmer 'on the sly' behind their supervisor's back, which turned into a disaster after they were swindled out of their life savings.

*  was commissioned to write a series 'Boys from the Blackstuff' with Bernard Hill in the role of 'Yosser Hughes' (left), whose catch-phrase "Gissa job" came to represent the unemployment of the Thatcher years with their 3 million out of work., the highest figure for over 50 years.

*  was now one of Britain's most important tv writers and social commentators. and scripted the film 'No Surrender' in 1985, a black comedy in which a group of elderly Protestant hardliners booked into a party in a Liverpool pub on the same night as a group of Catholic old-timers.

* turned to historical drama with 'The Monocled Mutineer' , in 1986, a serial for BBC1 about Percy Toplis, a soldier in the First World War who led a mutiny and then took on the persona of an upper-class officer before being killed by an MI5 assassin.

* witnessed his serial court controversy, partly because it was promoted in a BBC press release as being 'historically accurate', but  had included scenes, such as an officer being shot for cowardice, which were subsequently questioned for their veracity prompting right-wing critics and the 'Daily Mail' to smear the series as a whole.

* wrote 'GBH' in 1991, as a response to events in Liverpool in the 1980's, when members of the left-wing 'Militant Tendency' gained control of the City Council with the megalomaniacal council leader as a thinly-disguised version of Derek Hatton, the outspoken deputy-leader of the council and, as Alan's alter ego, the moderate headmaster, Jim Nelson.

 * saw his 'Jake's Pogress' with its story of a couple struggling to cope with a 'difficult' child in 1995 and his adaption of 'Oliver Twist' in 1999 achieve less success lacking the social and political aspects of his earlier work.

* after 11 years of absence from the tv screens, returned in 2011 on with a two-part TV film, 'The Sinking of the Laconia' about aSecond World War ocean liner sunk by a German u boat captain, who then tried to rescue as many passengers as possible, to the amazemen of his crew and Admiral Donitz.

* is sometimes confused with fellow Liverpudlian dramatist, Willy Russell and has said :  "I was at Euston once. This couple came up to me and said, as so many people do, 'Hallo Willy!' I said, 'I am not Willy. I am the other one.' The woman looked at me, and said: 'What other one?'"

* has said : "If the obituaries only commemorate Alan 'Boys from the Blackstuff' Bleasdale' I'd be happy with that. I won't care anyway, because I'll be dead."

No comments:

Post a Comment