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Trafalgar poster for Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine

Tim Piggot Smith and Laura Dos Santos in Educating Rita at the Trafalgar Studios

Educating Rita at the Trafalgar Studios

Shirley Valentine at the Trafalgar Studios

Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita at London's Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre

Educating Rita om BBC Radio4 Boxing Day

Our Day Out programme

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Hoovering The Moon is now available on iTunes

Rita in Venezuela

Click to read Willy's last Newsletter


Caroline Aherne, at the time an unknown drama student, put pen to paper and wrote to Willy Russell...



Willy Russell urges new writers to stand up...

























































































































































28th July
FRANK, RITA and SHIRLEY in the West End...
Willy Russell's Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine at the Trafalgar Studios are receiving wonderful reviews in the London and National press. Meera Syal (Shirley Valentine), Tim Piggot-Smith (as Frank) and Laura Dos Santos (Rita) are appearing in Willy Russell's two award winning plays in London's West End. You can read the latest reviews here on the Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine pages.

18th July
Willy Russell can also be heard on Janice Long's Radio 2 show which begins at midnight on Monday evening. And again, don't forget, if you miss the Monday show, you can catch Janice Long again on BBC iPlayer.
| Monday evening 18 July | midnight - 2.00am | Radio 2 |

16th July
Willy Russell will be one of Clive Anderson's guests on his show this Saturday afternoon - 17 July. The Radio 4 show is a mix of conversation, music and comedy. And don't forget, if you miss the live broadcast, you can catch Loose Ends again on BBC iPlayer.
| Saturday 17 July | 6.15pm | Radio 4 |

10th June
Willy Russell's Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine have had their season extended at the Trafalgar Studios (previously the Whitehall). Tim Pigott-Smith will play Frank opposite Laura Dos Santos in Educating Rita and which will now run from 8 July to 30 October. While Meera Syal will reprise her role in Shirley Valentine which runs from 20 July through to 30 October.

26th May
Melanie C will return to the role of Mrs Johnstone in BLOOD BROTHERS at the Liverpool Empire in November. The former Spice Girl said: "I had such an incredible time playing the role of Mrs Johnstone in the West End. I am so excited to have the opportunity to play her again in my home town at the Empire." BLOOD BROTHERS is on in Liverpool from the 8th through to 20th November. See the WHAT'S ON page for booking details.

18th May
The Menier Chocolate Factory revivals of Willy Russell's Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine will transfer to Trafalgar Studio Theatre on 26 July 2010, for a limited 16-week run. Tim Pigott-Smith will replace Larry Lamb opposite Laura Dos Santos in Educating Rita, while Meera Syal will reprise her role in Shirley Valentine.

19th April
The Liverpool Daily Post recently reviewed and discussed THE WRONG BOY as part of it's On-Line Literary Festival. YOU CAN WATCH THE FULL DISCUSSION HERE.

10th April
The Willy Russell London season at The Menier Chocolate Factory which includes both Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, is gathering great reviews. This is the first time these award winning plays have been paired together and the season runs until 8th May. YOU CAN READ THE FULL REVIEWS HERE.

24th March
In the build up to the Willy Russell season at The Menier Chocolate Factory which includes revivals of his award-winning Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, Willy has given an interview to the Daily Telegraph. YOU CAN READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE.

23rd March
BREAK IN - the full video
After numerous requests we have added the full version of Willy Russell's BBC Scene Schools play, BREAK IN. The play was never repeated on television for fear that it might encourage the kids who watched it to vandalise their schools! HOWEVER YOU CAN WATCH THE PLAY IN FULL HERE....

16th March
The Toho Theatre production of BLOOD BROTHERS will commence its tour of Japan during April and May. We have been kindly sent a new set of photographs of last year's production by Masako Tomita of the Toho Theatre and they can be viewed from the BLOOD BROTHERS ACROSS THE WORLD PAGE HERE....

16th February
The Menier Chocolate Factory will present the first major London revivals of Willy Russell’s award-winning Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, playing in repertoire from 26 March to 08 May. Jeremy Sams will direct Larry Lamb and Laura Dos Santos (who played Rita in Radio4's Boxing Day broadcast) in Educating Rita, and Glen Walford will direct Meera Syal in Shirley Valentine. More info here on the WHAT'S ON PAGE.

11th February
Melanie Chisolm has been nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her take over in Willy Russell's long-running musical BLOOD BROTHERS. The winners of the 2010 Laurence Olivier Awards will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 21 March.

25th January
Hot on the heels of the announcement in Willy's latest newsletter that DANCIN' THRU THE DARK will shortly become available on DVD, comes the news that the 1990 film will be shown at FACT on 8 February. FACT is a Liverpool-based cinema, art gallery and the UK's leading organisation for the support & exhibition of film, art and new media. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with Willy Russell. You can find more information on the WHAT'S ON PAGE.

31st December
We have added Willy Russell's latest Newsletter to the website, and this one shouldn't be missed as it contains lots of exciting announcements for the coming year. Included is the news that Dancin' Thru The Dark is finally to be released on DVD, Our Day Out - The Musical will re-open later in 2010, and Willy personally answers some of the questions raised via the guestbook. Read the newsletter here...

29th November
EDUCATING RITA on Boxing Day radio
Willy Russell has adapted EDUCATING RITA for BBC Radio4. Due for tranmission on Boxing Day afternoon (2.30pm-4.00pm), this will be the first radio version of any of Willy's stage plays. The production has already been recorded and stars Bill Nighy as Frank and Laura dos Santos as Rita.

Click the picture to see photographs of the recording.

27th November
NEW BLOOD BROTHERS from around the World
We have added a new BLOOD BROTHERS page highlighting the various productions around the world. Included are some very rare programmes and their contents. Take a peep here...

13th November
"Never before have I seen a domino row of hardened critics rise to give a spontaneous standing ovation. Yet this is what they — we — did, along with a rapt and tearful audience, for the gloriously recast Blood Brothers, now celebrating its 21st year in the West End."   "Mel C  is absolutely sensational!" This is what the critics are saying about Mel C in the role of Mrs Johnstone in Willy's BLOOD BROTHERS. Read the reviews here (The Telegraph), and (The Evening Standard) here.

26th October
Willy has re-visited EDUCATING RITA in preparation for a BBC recording. The play is scheduled to be transmitted on BBC radio towards the end of the year. The characters of Rita and Frank will be played by Laura Dos Santos (Stags & Hens - The Remix) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually, amongst others!).

25rd October
Melanie Chisholm as Mrs Johnstone. Photo credit PABLOOD BROTHERS
Former Spice Girls member Melanie Chisholm is to make her theatrical debut in the West End production of Blood Brothers, playing Mrs Johnstone this week. Best known as Mel C, Chisholm will give her first performance on October 26. She follows in the footsteps of Barbara Dickson, Kiki Dee, Carole King, Linda Nolan and Helen Reddy in taking on the role. Blood Brothers, currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre, is celebrating its 21st anniversary in the West End this year.

23rd October
The Watermill Theatre production of Educating Rita starring Timothy Bentinck and Claire Lams is gathering great reviews. "Brilliantly acted and considerately staged" is how THE STAGE describes the play. The play runs until 14 November and you will find more information on the WHAT'S ON PAGE. You can also read the reviews here.

4th October
Because the dvd/video is not available for this much requested film (and probably never will be!), is pleased to announce that we have now added the television film of OUR DAY OUT onto the site, (You can view the film from the link on the OUR DAY OUT page here).

21st September
Our Day Out, Willy Russell's latest musical is playing to sell-out audiences and sweeping-up great reviews during its run at Liverpool's Royal Court theatre. said, "It’s outstanding from the moment it opens right until the final curtain." and The Stage says "Our Day Out – The Musical is one show that surely has “West End Hit” scrawled all over it." Read the reviews in full here.

14th September
BLOOD BROTHERS - the new Mrs Johnstone
Former Spice Girl Melanie C is to make her theatre debut in the West End production of Blood Brothers playing Mrs Johnstone. Sporty Spice will replace former X Factor contestant Niki Evans and give her first performance on 26 October at London's Phoenix Theatre.

14th September
The Liverpool Echo has a very timely piece about the BBC tv film of OUR DAY OUT from members of the original cast, both youngsters and adults. Willy Russell based the story on his time working as a teacher at Dingle Vale (now Shorefields comprehensive) school. His inspiration for the television play came in the form of Dorothy King, the head of the school’s special department for children who needed extra help. The paper talks to Mrs King’s daughter Wendy Quinn. “My mother was the inspiration behind the character of Mrs Kay, she always remembered Willy's time at Shorefields, saying he was so creative and inspirational with some of the most difficult children." Read the full article here.

11th September
OUR DAY OUT - The Lyrics
The lyrics to three of the songs from Willy's new musical OUR DAY OUT are now on the LYRICS PAGE here. The three numbers are I'M IN LOVE WITH SIR, NO ONE CAN TAKE THIS TIME AWAY & TO THE ZOO.

7th September
OUR DAY OUT - The Musical
Rehearsals for OUR DAY OUT continue to roller-coaster along ahead of the eagerly anticipated opening at the Royal Court Theatre this Friday, 11th September. Willy's musical update of this popular television play is sure to be a huge hit. Booking and date details on the 'WHAT'S ON' page.

3rd September
We've added snippets of an interview which Willy did with Mark Shenton (Theatre Critic for the Sunday Express).  Recorded at the Shaw Theatre in 2008, Willy talks enthusiastically about musical influences, his introduction to the Everyman Theatre and how he began to pen delights such as John, Paul, George, Ringo & Bert, Breezeblock Park, Shirley Valentine and Blood Brothers. Listen to part one of the interview here...

3rd August
Glen Walford directs a Japanese production of Blood Brothers this month at Tokyo's Creation Theatre. The musical stars Shinji Takeda sharing the role of Mickey with Masaaki Fujioka and Kohki Okada and Mario Tashiro taking the role of Eddie. Ami Suzuki stars as Linda. More information from the 'WHAT'S ON' PAGE.

24th June
OUR DAY OUT - The Musical
Willy Russell has been busy the last few months completely reworking his successful television play Our Day Out as a full-scale musical. Willy says, "It's always been a work in progress and we knew that if we were going to do it properly we would OUR DAY OUT - more infohave to dedicate a lot of time to it and that’s what we’re doing now." The World premiere of the new musical will be at Royal Court Liverpool this Autumn and it’s already got the theatre world buzzing in anticipation. Big dance numbers, instantly recognisable characters and songs so catchy you’ll be singing them for weeks make Our Day Out – The Musical the hottest ticket in town. Our Day Out will run from Friday 11th September until the Saturday 17th October. Box Office: 0870 787 1866. More on OUR DAY OUT - The Musical. CLICK THE BUS FOR MORE INFO

11th May
We have added a live recording of Willy Russell reading his poem, 'I Hate Poems'. The poem has been requested many times via Willy's Guestbook and a version was featured in song during The Singing Playwrights tour in 2004. We are pleased to include it on the website. You can hear it here.

29th April
The new production of SHIRLEY VALENTINE at Liverpool's Royal Court is gathering great reviews with the press saying Pauline Daniels is the 'definitive' Shirley Valentine for lots of theatre goers. Read the reviews here. You can catch this great new production, directed by Glen Walford (who directed the original play when it first opened in 1986) until 9th May. Box Office: 0870 787 1866.

15th April

“Playing Shirley is always such a pleasure. You’d have to shoot me before I give it up.”

So says Pauline Daniels ahead of the eagerly anticipated new production of SHIRLEY VALENTINE at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre. SHIRLEY VALENTINE opens on 23rd April and runs until 9th May. You can read the full interview Pauline gave to the Liverpool Echo here...

23rd March
Whether you’re aiming to write songs to top the charts, to sing at an open mic night, or to feature in a full scale musical, a new course based at the John Osborne Arvon Centre in Shropshire in August, could help you fulfill your dreams.
Join award winning stage and songwriters Willy Russell and Tim Firth for a week of songwriting, and find your own voice, and your own songs. Find out more about this residential course here...

11th February
Willy has always produced a series of occasional Newsletters in which Willy answers questions raised by visitors to his website. We will be preparing the next newsletter during the coming weeks. So if you have something you would like to ask him, send a message via the guestbook contact form and we'll choose a selection of questions to put to him.

28th January
Willy Russell's award winning film starring Pauline Collins, Bernard Hill and Tom Conti will be featured in the new TV series of MOVIE CONNECTIONS currently showing on BBC1. The programme will feature interviews with key people including Willy and is now scheduled to be broadcast on Wednesday 4th February.

16th January
The SHIRLEY VALENTINE dates have been confirmed for Liverpool's Royal Court theatre. The new production, starring Pauline Daniels, will run from 23rd April to the 9th May and tickets are now on sale. See 'WHAT'S ON' page for more information.

9th January
A new Spanish production of EDUCATING RITA will open at the Teatro Trasnocho in Caracas, Venezuela on 23 January. Rita and Frank are played by Catherina Cardozo and Alejo Felipe and the play directed by Moises Guevara. see the link from the 'WHAT'S ON' page for more information.

5th January
Coming soon...
As well as the SHIRLEY VALENTINE Movie Connections programme due to be broadcast on BBC TV in February (see below), a new production of SHIRLEY VALENTINE, starring Pauline Daniels, will open at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre in 2009. Glen Walford will direct a new production of BLOOD BROTHERS which will open in Tokyo in August and BBC Radio4 is currently casting for EDUCATING RITA. We will have more news and information during the coming weeks.

17th December
OUR DAY OUT - The Musical
A new production of Willy Russell's OUR DAY OUT
- The musical is planned for next year at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre. Preliminary workshops for the musical are set to take place on 27, 28 and 29 January 2009. Stay tuned for more information.

16th December
Willy Russell's award winning film starring Pauline Collins, Bernard Hill and Tom Conti will be featured in the new BBC series of MOVIE CONNECTIONS. The programme will feature interviews with key people including Willy and is provisionally scheduled to be broadcast on 11th February 2009.

8th December
Willy Russell's lecture appearance at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall is now available to view as a webcast on the Liverpool University website. See it here:

3rd December

During Willy Russell's lecture appearance at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, he read out an updated version of his 'CAPITAL OF CULTURE' poem. We've had lots of requests so here it is... Read it here:

17th October
Due to overwhelming ticket demand, Willy Russell's lecture appearance at Liverpool University has been altered. His 'IN HIS OWN WORDS' appearance will now take place on two nights at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Monday 1st December and Tuesday 2nd December. For ticket information please contact 0151 794 2650.

3rd September
GEORGE ALDEN August 4, 1940 – August 27, 2008 
Willy says:   " George was enormously influential in creating a platform for my work.   Initially it was through my involvement with folk music that I met George - at that time an enthusiastic and impressive singer himself -  it was he who first suggested that I do something at the Fringe, expecting that this would be in a solo capacity as a singer/songwriter.   Read more here:

18th August
Liverpool on the Box
BBC television has begun screening it's Liverpool on the Box series, and as well as a new showing of OUR DAY OUT, Willy Russell's work will feature several times, including interviews with him and other Liverpool playwrights. On BBC7, Willy Russell will also feature reading Shirley Valentine. The programme will include an interview with Willy and fellow Liverpool writer Roger McGough.

6th August
BBC television will show OUR DAY OUT as part of a special screening of Liverpool themed programmes. The film, which was shot in 1976, is still shown and the play performed in almost every school in the country. Play For Today - OUR DAY OUT, will be broadcast on Friday 22nd August at 11pm on BBC4.

23rd July
Willy Russell will be appearing as part of the Barmouth Arts Festival this year at the Dragon Theatre, Barmouth. He will present An Evening With Willy Russell on Thursday 11th September at 7.30pm. Tickets can be booked via the theatre's Box Office on 01341 281697.

24th May
We hope you like the new website. We've worked on improving the layout and have also added lots of new content not previously seen. Over the coming months we will include film of interviews Willy has given and add snippets of his earlier work... and as well as the regular and very popular newsletters, Willy will offer podcasts with unique content. We hope you will enjoy your visit and come back soon.

8th February
The reviews are flowing in for STAGS & HENS - The Remix, which is running until the beginning of March at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. You can read some of the reviews, including one from THE STAGE on the STAGS & HENS page.

1st February
Willy Russell's STAGS & HENS - The Remix opens tonight (Friday 1st Feb) at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. First produced 30 years ago, the play tells of a couple who, by coincidence, spend the night before their wedding in the same Liverpool venue. You can read some of the interviews Willy has given in the build-up to STAGS & HENS here...

The production which runs from 1st February to the 1st March 2008 is directed by Bob Eaton with Eithne Brown as Assistant Director. You can book STAGS & HENS on 0870 787 1866.

28th January
Willy will be interviewed tonight (Monday 28th Jan) by Mark Lawson on Radio 4s Arts Programme FRONT ROW. The programme begins at 7.15pm and you can 'listen again' for the next week via the BBCs website.

23rd January
Pure Records is relaunching Willy Russell's CD HOOVERING THE MOON (WR1-PRCD24) and you can now buy on-line from it's website <>. The CD contains 14 original compositions and features Kate Rusby, Barbara Dickson, Iain Mathews, Tim Firth plus Andy Roberts who co-produced the album with Willy. Mike Harding described Willy Russell as "one of the country's great songwriters". The album is also available as an iTunes download from ©.
Hear a handful of songs on the 'SONGWRITER' PAGE.

18th January
Courting favour with Willy Russell
Philip Key also chatted to Willy Russell prior to STAG & HENS (... a Comedy Classic) opening at Liverpool's Royal Court theatre at the beginning of February. STAGS & HENS runs from 1st February to the 1st March. You can book on 0870 787 1866.

15th January
Willy took time out from rehearsals for STAGS & HENS to chat to Joe Riley, Liverpool Echo reporter, about Liverpool's 08 Capital of Culture and his hopes for a permanent acting company in Liverpool.

4th January
As BLOOD BROTHERS kicks off Liverpool's Capital of Culture year, the musical - first performed a quarter of a century ago, is gathering great reviews. The stars, Lyn Paul as Mrs Johnstone, Sean Jones, Mark Hutchinson, Keith Burns and Vivienne Carlyle all receive praise for their performance.

19th December
The dates and cast for next year's production of STAGS & HENS at the Liverpool Royal Court is complete and includes, for the Hens - Rachel Rae (Linda), Gillian Hardie (Bernie) [Gillian has previously played Linda in Blood Brothers], Suzanne Collins (Carol), Laura Dos Santos (Francis) and Keddy Sutton (Maureen). The Stags include Stephen Fletcher (Peter), James Spofforth (Eddie), Kevin Harvey (Robbie) [Kevin can be seen in Dancin' Thru The Dark], Danny O'Brien (Kav), Lenny Wood (Billy) and as the Roadie, Shaun Mason.
The production which runs from 1st February to the 1st March 2008 is directed by Bob Eaton with Eithne Brown as Assistant Director. You can book STAGS & HENS on 0870 787 1866.

31st October
In the build up to his 'An Evening With Willy Russell at the Lowry, Willy Russell has given an interview to WHAT'S ON STAGE.COM in which he talks about BLOOD BROTHERS… The Movie, Liverpool and the capital of culture celebrations, his love of Slava’s Snow Show and his future plans, including his forthcoming date in Manchester.

21st October
THE WRONG BOY is, once again, being serialised on "OneWord", Channel 4's digital radio. You can hear Willy Russell reading his first novel twice each day on DAB digital radio, and on Sky, Freeview, Virgin Media cable or the internet -

21st October
Willy is delighted to report that auditions for Stage & Hens continue to reveal an astonishing wealth of young acting talent. "From the two auditions we've already held, we could put two quite separate superb casts together - and we've still got more to see." Stags & Hens will open at the Royal Court Theatre in February 2008.

20th October
Just published by Liverpool University Press is Writing Liverpool: Essays & Interviews edited by Deryn Rees-Jones and Michael Murthy. This collection of essays and interviews addresses the wide range of writing that has emerged from Liverpool and includes an a piece on Willy Russell, interviewed by John Bennett. Writing Liverpool: Essays & Interviews is available from Liverpool University Press; ISBN 9781846310744.

16th October
The production of Stags & Hens at the Royal Court will rehearse in January and open in February. We don't have the exact dates yet but will post them here as soon as they are confirmed. Bob Eaton will be directing and he and Willy are currently casting for the show. The first auditions took place last week with another round of auditions later this week. Both Willy and Bob Eaton have seen some really exciting young actors which is an excellent start. Contact the Royal Court theatre if you want to audition.

9th October
Open auditions for the Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre's opening Capital of Culture year show were announced recently. Would-be stage stars can showcase their acting skills in front of Willy Russell. His comedy STAGS & HENS launches the theatre's 2008 programme. Royal Court manager Kevin Fearon said today: "The auditions for Stags and Hens will be for anyone, whatever their experience. Willy wants to see new blood. "Willy will be involved in the auditioning, design and marketing of the play. This season is our gift to Liverpool." Many of the theatre's regular repertory troupe, such as Andrew Schofield and Eithne Browne, will also be involved. Willy Russell said: "A theatre once on the brink of oblivion is now bursting with vitality. "I'm delighted Stags and Hens will be part of the season."

24th September
A new student edition of EDUCATING RITA has just been published by Methuen Drama. For anyone studying the play or simply interested in background, origins etc., it's a really excellent edition with notes and commentary from Steve Lewis. More details from

Archive news items - coming soon...



Click to read Willy's last Newsletter OUR DAY OUT - more information