Willy with Pauline Collins and Tom Coast on the film set of Shirley Valentine1980s Banner

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One Summer poster

Educating Rita poster

Blood Brothers

The original Blood Brothers programme

Lyric programme

Shirley Valentine

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Playwright...

 

During the 1980's...

Willy Russell wrote the controversial TV drama One Summer which featured Ian Hart and David Morrisey, the screenplay for Educating Rita, and both the stage version and screenplay for Shirley Valentine, both starring Pauline Collins. The play and later the musical of Blood Brothers was revealed to the public and is still playing to large and enthusiastic audiences in London's West End and around the world over twenty years later.

 

1980
arrow BOY WITH THE TRANSISTOR RADIO video arrow
Produced by Thames ITV as part of The English Programme for schools.

arrow ONE SUMMER
A five part television serial produced by Yorkshire TV for Channel Four. A highly controversial production which leads to Willy Russell having his name removed from the credits.

1981
arrow EDUCATING RITA video arrow
Screenplay. Commissioned by Columbia Pictures and eventually produced and directed by Lewis Gilbert for Acorn Pictures starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters. Released 1983. Along with Michael Caine and Julie Walters, Willy Russell was nominated for an Academy Award.

BLOOD BROTHERS
Non-musical schools version. Commissioned by Paul Harman's Merseyside Young People's Theatre Company for Secondary school children. First performed at Fazakerley Comprehensive School in November 1981.

1982
Willy spent the whole of this year turning the small scale production of Blood Brothers into a full scale musical. Revising the book, writing the lyrics and composing all the music himself.

1983
arrow BLOOD BROTHERS video arrow
The musical - opened at the Liverpool Playhouse in association with Bob Swash, directed by Chris Bond. From it's hugely successful Liverpool production Blood Brothers transferred to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, where it eventually became the musical hit of the season, winning three Best Musical Awards for its author/composer and one Best Actress award for its leading actress/singer Barbara Dickson.

HON M.A.
The OPEN UNIVERSITY Award Willy an Honourary MA in recognition of his work as a playwright.

arrow OUR DAY OUT
Musical stage version of the original television film first staged at the Liverpool Everyman with book by Willy Russell and songs by Willy Russell, Chris Mellor and Bob Eaton (who also directed).

arrow ONE FOR THE ROAD
Starring Russ Abbot opens in the West End.

1984
arrow BLOOD BROTHERS video arrow
A new touring production by Robert Fox in association with Bob Swash, directed by Chris Bond.

1985
arrow CONNIE
Composed the music for this TV series by Ron Hutchinson. A single of the theme, 'The Show' sung by Rebecca Storm made it to the lower shores of the charts

1986
arrow MR LOVE
Willy composed music for the film. ' I was approached by director Roy Battersby who'd already shot the film from a script by Ken Eastaugh.

arrow SHIRLEY VALENTINE
Opens at the Liverpool Everyman directed by Glen Walford and starring Noreen Kershaw.

"On reflection I find it hard to fathom how someone as superstitious as myself could have agreed that in the event of Noreen ever being off, I would go on and read the text....."

1987
SHIRLEY VALENTINE
Willy begins writing the screenplay for Shirley Valentine

1988
SHIRLEY VALENTINE
Stage play opens at London's Vaudeville Theatre, starring Pauline Collins, directed by Simon Callow and produced by Bob Swash. The play won numerous awards including Best Comedy for Willy Russell and Best Actress for Pauline Collins

1989
arrow SHIRLEY VALENTINE
The film of SHIRLEY VALENTINE is released, starring Pauline Collins, Bernard Hill and Tom Conti, directed by Lewis Gilbert. Like the play, the film wins many awards including Baftas for its star and director and The Evening Standard Film Award for Best Screenplay.

SHIRLEY VALENTINE
At the Booth Theatre, New York the Broadway stage version opens, again directed by Simon Callow and starring Pauline Collins who won a Tony Award for her performance.

arrow BLOOD BROTHERS video arrow
The revival of BLOOD BROTHERS opens at The Albery Theatre in a production directed by Bob Thomson and Bill Kenwright, produced by Bill Kenwright (in association with Bob Swash) and starring Kiki Dee, Con O Neil, Robert Locke and Warwick Evans. Still running, but now at the Phoenix Theatre where it transferred in 1995, this production won Olivier Awards for its leading players.

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