Director, playwright and screenwriter born in 1943 in Salford, UK. Trained briefly at RADA for an acting career but found it boring and snotty, and switched to a succession of art schools before going on to the London Film School. His first stage work, The Box Play, demonstrated his interest in the observation of reality through a collaborative improvisation process with his performers. His first film Bleak Moments was financed by the actor Albert Finney, and won several awards. He concentrated on stage and TV work for a while after that, and became increasingly popular for producing keen social observation and bold political critiques. His films explore what I like to call the 'cringe factor' - the grittier side of working-class life, often wickedly funny, often tragic. He got Best Director at Cannes for Naked and was nominated for an Academy Award for Secrets and Lies.

Recently divorced from his wife Alison Steadman the actress, who starred in Abigail's Party and Life is Sweet.