Bleasdale, Alan 1946-

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BLEASDALE, Alan 1946-

PERSONAL: Born March 23, 1946, in Liverpool, England; son of George (a foreman) and Margaret (a shop assistant; maiden name, Grant) Bleasdale; married Julia Moses, December 28, 1970; children: Timothy, Jamie, Tamana.

ADDRESSES: Home—Liverpool, England. Agent—Lemon, Unna & Durbridge, 24 Pottery Lane, Holland Park, London W11 4LZ, England.

CAREER: Producer and screenwriter. Teacher, St. Columbus Secondary Modern School, Huyton, England, 1967-71, King George V School, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, 1971-74, and Halewood Grange Comprehensive School, Lancashire, 1974-75; Liverpool Playhouse, Liverpool, England, resident playwright, 1975-76, joint artistic director, 1981-84, and associate director, 1984-86; Contact Theatre, Manchester, England, resident playwright, 1976-78.

Producer of film Soft Sand, Blue Sea, 1997. Producer of television movies Self Catering (also known as Alan Bleasdale Presents Self Catering), 1994; Requiem Apache (also known as Alan Bleasdale Presents Requiem Apache), 1994; and Blood on the Dole (also known as Alan Bleasdale Presents Blood on the Dole), 1994. Producer of television miniseries GBH, 1991. Executive producer of television miniseries Melissa, 1997, and Oliver Twist, 1999.

AWARDS, HONORS: Broadcasting Press Guild award, 1982; Royal Television Society award, 1982; British Academy of Film and Television Arts award, 1982, for Boys from the Blackstuff; Evening Standard award for musical, 1985; ITV Achievement-of-the-Decade award, 1989; Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio award, 1991.



Fat Harold and the Last Twenty-six, produced at Liverpool Playhouse, Liverpool, England, 1975.

The Party's Over, produced at Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, England, 1975.

(With others) Scully (adaptation of Bleasdale's novel of the same title), produced at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, England, 1975.

Down the Dock Road, produced at Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, England, 1976.

(With Kenneth Alan Taylor) Franny Scully's Christmas Stories, produced at Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, England, 1976.

It's a Madhouse, produced at Contact Theatre, Manchester, England, 1976.

Should Auld Acquaintance, produced at Contact Theatre, Manchester, England, 1976.

No More Sitting on the Old School Bench (produced at Contact Theatre, Manchester, England, 1977), Woodhouse, 1979, published with David Calcutt's Detention, Heinemann (London, England), 1987.

Crackers, produced at The Playhouse, Leeds, England, 1978.

Pimples, produced at Contact Theatre, Manchester, England, 1978.

Love Is a Many Splendoured Thing (for children; produced in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, 1986), in Act I, edited by David Self and Ray Speakman, Hutchinson (London, England), 1979.

Having a Ball, produced at the Coliseum, Oldham, Lancashire, England, 1981.

Young People Today (sketch), produced with The Big One in London, England, 1983.

Are You Lonesome Tonight? (musical; produced at Liverpool Playhouse, 1985), Faber (London, England), 1985.

Having a Ball [and] It's a Madhouse, Faber (London, England), 1986.

On the Ledge, Faber (London, England), 1993.


Scully (adapted from Bleasdale's novel of the same title; produced 1984), edited by David Self, Hutchinson (London, England), 1984.

The Monocled Mutineer (four-part series; adapted from the book by William Allison and John Farley; produced by British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 1986), Hutchinson (London, England), 1986.


Boys from the Blackstuff (produced by British Broadcasting Company), edited by David Self, Hutchinson (London, England), 1985.

GBH, 1991.

Jake's Progress, 1995.

Melissa, 1997.

Oliver Twist, 1999.


Early to Bed, British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 1975.

Dangerous Ambition, British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 1976.

The Black Stuff, British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 1980.

The Muscle Market, British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 1981.


Scully's New Years Eve (also known as Play for Today: Scully's New Year's Eve), British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 1978.


No Surrender, Norstar, 1986, published as No Surrender: A Deadpan Farce, Faber (London, England), 1986.


Scully, Hutchinson (London, England), 1975.

Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? Hutchinson (London, England), 1977, revised edition published as Scully and Mooey, Corgi (London, England), 1984.

SIDELIGHTS: Liverpool native Alan Bleasdale has been chronicling life in England on stage and on television for many years. His dramatic social commentaries include Boys from the Blackstuff, a miniseries about unemployed British laborers in the early 1980s; GBH, a fictional miniseries about fascists taking over a British city; and Having a Ball, a play about three men who are about to have vasectomies. More recently, Bleasdale has also updated the work of an earlier social commentator, nineteenth century British author Charles Dickens, in his television adaptation of Dickens's novel Oliver Twist.

Boys from the Blackstuff began as a play Bleasdale wrote in the 1970s and later expanded into a popular British Broadcasting Company (BBC) miniseries. The central characters are five unemployed road workers who are struggling to make ends meet between their welfare money and illegal, under-the-table employment. The shout of one of these men, Yosser, "Gissa job!," became a rallying cry for workers under the administration of Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the series so stuck in Liverpudlian's collective imagination that the published scripts of the show were voted Liverpool's favorite book in a 2003 poll.

Bleasdale's other major critical success, GBH, is a sprawling political epic that aired over the course of seven weeks and required a production crew of more than one hundred people. Yet despite the "immense scale" of the narrative, it "remains accessible at all times. It is simultaneously overawing, yet understated; outlandishly funny, and tearfully poignant; angry, defiant, but never polemical, or self-righteous—and never ever self-indulgent," Ian Jones wrote in Off the Telly.

Bleasdale's adaptation of Oliver Twist fleshes out Oliver's backstory in a way Dickens did not: the entire first segment of the four-part series is devoted to explaining how Oliver came to be an orphan, a subject Dickens deals with only briefly. This segment "tie[s] up a lot of loose ends, making the plot less confusing than the original or any of the subsequent screen versions," Sam Wollaston wrote in the Guardian. Besides, as Wollaston wrote, "If anyone is going to tamper with Oliver Twist it may as well be Bleasdale, being perhaps the nearest thing we've got to Dickens today."



Berney, K. A., editor, Contemporary British Dramatists, St. James Press (London, England), 1994.

Contemporary Dramatists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 245: British and Irish Dramatists since World War II, Third Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Drabble, Margaret, editor, The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 6th edition, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2000.

Parker, Peter, editor, A Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1996.

Stringer, Jenny, editor, The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996.


Birmingham Evening Mail (Birmingham, England), March 9, 2001, Fred Norris, interview with Bleasdale, p. 64; March 19, 2001, Alison Jones, interview with Bleasdale, p. 12; March 22, 2001, Fred Norris, review of Having a Ball, p. 55.

Birmingham Post (Birmingham, England), March 23, 2001, Terry Grimley, review of Having a Ball, p. 16.

Coventry Evening Telegraph (Coventry, England), September 11, 2001, Barbara Goulden, review of Having a Ball, p. 11.

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), October 1, 2001, Amanda Dale, "Bleasdale Pulls out of BBC Drama Series," p. 11; January 28, 2002, Alan Weston, "Angry Bleasdale Pulls out of Pounds 6m TV Drama," p. 14.

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), October 10, 1998, "Whatever Happened to The Boys from the Blackstuff?," p. 22; July 6, 1999, Kathleen Morgan, review of Oliver Twist, p. 17.

Evening News (Edinburgh, Scotland), May 1, 2001, Thom Dibdin, review of Having a Ball, p. 24.

Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland), December 3, 1999, Brian Beacom, review of Oliver Twist, p. 38; December 10, 1999, review of Oliver Twist, p. 38.

Guardian (London, England), May 10, 1997, Maggie Brown, interview with Bleasdale, p. 24; July 6, 1999, Janine Gibson, review of Oliver Twist, p. 7; November 22, 1999, Maggie Brown, interview with Bleasdale, p. 2, Sam Wollaston, review of Oliver Twist, p. 3; November 30, 1999, review of Oliver Twist, p. 7; October 1, 2001, "Bleasdale Anger as BBC Ditches Series," p. 16; November 19, 2001, Gareth McLean, review of The Boys from Blackstuff, p. 13.

Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), December 8, 1999, William Russell, review of Oliver Twist, p. 17; May 5, 2001, "Making a Drama out of a Crisis," p. 52.

Independent (London, England), March 12, 1997, review of Melissa, p. 2; July 6, 1999, Paul McCann, review of Oliver Twist, p. 10; December 1, 1999, James Rampton, review of Oliver Twist, p. 10; May 15, 2001, Alan Bleasdale, "Election 2001: How I Will Vote," p. 7; October 29, 2002, Gerard Gilbert, "TV Heroes: Alan Bleasdale," p. 23.

Independent Sunday (London, England), April 13, 1997, Jasper Rees, interview with Bleasdale, p. 14; January 3, 1999, Jasper Rees, review of Oliver Twist, p. 3; November 28, 1999, Nick Smurthwaite, interview with Bleasdale and Julie Walters, p. 76.

Mirror (London, England), May 10, 1997, "In Heaven with Ehle," p. 4.

News of the World (London, England), May 18, 1997, Charlie Catchpole, review of Melissa, p. 48; December 5, 1999, review of Oliver Twist, p. 76.

New Statesman, June 12, 1981, Benedict Nightingale, review of Having a Ball, pp. 21-22; January 18, 1985, Hugo Williams, review of South Bank Show, pp. 36-37; May 24, 1985, Paul Allen, review of Are You Lonesome Tonight? pp. 37-38; September 5, 1986, profile of Bleasdale, p. 12; March 5, 1993, Boyd Tonkin, review of On the Ledge, pp. 33-34.

New Statesman & Society, June 14, 1991, Jaci Stephen, review of GBH, p. 30; July 19, 1991, Peter Jukes, review of GBH, pp. 29-30.

New York Times, September 14, 1986, Vincent Canby, review of No Surrender, p. H17; October 7, 2000, Neil Genzlinger, review of Oliver Twist, p. A27.

North American Review, March-April, 1994, Robert L. King, review of On the Ledge, pp. 18-19.

Observer (London, England), November 28, 1999, Vanessa Thorpe, "Costume War Declared on TV," p. 9.

Off the Telly, March, 2000, Ian Jones, review of Boys from the Blackstuff; October, 2000, Graham Kibble, review of The Monocled Mutineer, Ian Jones, review of GBH.

People (London, England), May 18, 1997, Dave Lanning, review of Melissa, p. 51.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Kathy Akey, review of Oliver Twist, p. 69.

Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), July 6, 1999, Matt Wells, "ITV Gives Dickens Classic a Twist," p. 8; July 17, 1999, Katrina Dixon, "Living Obituary: Alan Bleasdale," p. 2; September 21, 2000, "Where Eliot Meets Nick Hornby," p. 5; September 15, 2001, "Brush up on Alan Bleasdale," p. 26.

Sight and Sound, spring, 1987, Julian Petley, review of The Monocled Mutineer, pp. 126-131.

Spectator, May 8, 1993, Sheridan Morley, review of On the Ledge, pp. 38-39; October 14, 1995, Nigella Lawson, review of Jake's Progress, p. 58; May 17, 1997, James Delingpole, review of Melissa, p. 53.

Sunday Times (London, England), September 1, 1996, Margarette Driscoll, "Class of 88," p. S9; January 17, 1999, Nicholas Hellen, review of Oliver Twist, p. 7; November 28, 1999, John Dugdale, review of Oliver Twist, p. 67; June 4, 2000, "Scousers' Reunion Has the Blairites Running Scared," p. 19.

Time, September 8, 1986, Richard Corliss, review of No Surrender, p. 83.

Times (London, England), October 4, 1995, Alan Franks, interview with Bleasdale, p. 35; May 20, 1997, Joe Joseph, review of Melissa, p. 55; July 6, 1999, Carol Midgley, review of Oliver Twist, p. 2; November 19, 1999, Paul Nathanson, review of Oliver Twist, p. 49; November 30, 1999, Paul McCann, review of Oliver Twist, p. 11.

Times Literary Supplement, July 5, 1991, Mick Imlah, review of GBH, p. 16; May 7, 1993, Peter Kemp, review of On the Ledge, p. 8; December 24, 1999, John Bowen, review of Oliver Twist, pp. 16-17.

Variety, August 21, 1985, review of Are You Lonesome Tonight? p. 130.

Wall Street Journal, August 14, 1986, Julie Salamon, review of No Surrender, pp. 14, 16.


Museum of Broadcast Communications Web site, (May 11, 2003), "Bleasdale, Alan."*