and now novelist
, born in Whiston
, UK. He wrote superb play
s, some of which are now popular
and critically acclaimed film
s: Blind Scouse
(Edinburgh Festival, 1972); John, Paul, George, Ringo... and Bert
( Liverpool Everyman, 1974 - won Evening Standard
's and the London Theate Critics' award for best musical
); Breezeblock Park
(Everyman, 1975); One for the Road
(Contact Theatre, 1986); Stags & Hens
(Playhouse 1978 - and was filmed, too, in 1990 - name was changed to Dancing Thru' the Dark
(goodness knows why - the original name is much better)); Educating Rita
, 1980 - won Society of West End Theatres' award for best comedy in 1980. The play was adapted for the screen by Russell: the film starred Julie Walters
as Rita, and Michael Caine
(my name.... is Michael Caine - see Madness
) as Frank. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert); Blood Brothers
(Liverpool Playhouse, 1983 - a musical: Russell wrote words, songs and music); and Shirley Valentine
(Everyman, 1986) which was also filmed with Pauline Collins
as the lead and Tom Conti
He's also responsible for TV stuff too: King of the Castle (1974); Break-In (1974); Death of a Young Man (1974); Our Day Out (1976 - and subsequently adapted for the stage - Everyman, 1983); The Daughters of Albion (1978); Terraces (1992).
He has just (2000) published his first novel The Wrong Boy.
Russell left school at fifteen: he had been frightened by bullying teachers, and did not really see the point of being at school until it was all too late. He spent most of his time in a club in Liverpool called The Cavern listening to the Beatles, a group of scousers who went on to enjoy some mild success. Just before leaving, he went on a visit to a bottle factory nearby, where most of his peers would end up working, and was horrified by the mindlessness of what he saw: the foremen all looked exactly like the teachers back at school. There were discussions at home about what he should do with his life. His mother suggested, in desperation, that be become a ladies' hairdresser, which he did. After college, Russell, in his own words, 'spent six years doing a job I didn't understand and didn't like'.
But he could write. Russell took a job cleaning the oil of girders, high up, in a factory. When he had enough money (and no more) he ditched the job and went to Childwall college, paying his own way.
Russell became a teacher for a short while (which must, together with his own education have given him the inspiration for Our Day Out, and Break-In). Most of his plays seem to have something to do with education in them somewhere. They also have a lot to say about personal freedom, potential and the class structure of the UK during the 70s and 80s. They are also very, very funny, and that is Russell's greatest strength. He is never didactic (in fact, he wanted to write plays that were straightforward, and not deliberately vague), and he is massively humorous.
The man is a star.