Jimmy McGovern
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Jimmy McGovern

James Stanley McGovern (born September 1949 in Liverpool) is an English screenwriter and producer. He created the television series Cracker (1993-1995), a popular and critical success in the UK, for which he received two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. He has also received recognition for Hillsborough, The Lakes, The Street and Accused, among others.

Early life

McGovern was one of nine children born to working class Liverpool born parents, William McGovern and Jane Warner.[1] He had a stammer until the age of eight. He attended a Jesuit secondary school, St Francis Xavier's College in Liverpool. He taught for a time at Quarry Bank Secondary Comprehensive school, where he organised the end-of-school play.

Television writing career

In 1982, McGovern started his TV career working on Channel 4's soap opera Brookside. He tackled many social issues in the course of the series, especially unemployment - which was at a post-war high at the time. In 1993, he created the drama serial Cracker, about the work of a fictional criminal psychologist played by Robbie Coltrane. Made by Granada Television and screened on ITV, the series was a critical and popular success, lasting until 1995. Cracker also aired in the United States, on the Arts and Entertainment cable network. McGovern's writing earned him two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. In 1997 he created The Lakes, a drama that shared Brookside's realist setting and reused themes from Cracker, such as gambling addiction. In 2006, he created the BBC One drama, The Street; its third and final season aired in 2009.

McGovern also wrote the script for the television docudrama Hillsborough (1996), based on the events of the stadium disaster in 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans at an FA Cup semi-final. Among the cast of this drama was Christopher Eccleston, who also featured in Cracker, along with former Brookside actor Ricky Tomlinson. In 2013, Eccleston said it was the most important work he'd ever done.[2] Newspapers cited Hillsborough as a factor in a new inquiry set up in 1997.[3]

His series Accused aired from 2010 to 2012 on BBC One. It followed a similar format to The Street but with a crime component. The series' writers included McGovern, Danny Brocklehurst, Alice Nutter and Shaun Duggan. It was produced by Sita Williams.[]

In 2012, McGovern together with local Indigenous Australian writers from Sydney, developed the Australian television drama series Redfern Now, set among the Indigenous Australians of the Sydney suburb of Redfern. The six-part series follows a similar format to Accused, telling the stories of six inner-city households in one street whose lives are changed by a seemingly insignificant incident.[4] The series debuted on 1 November 2012, was produced by Blackfella Films and has been commissioned for a second series.[5]

Film writing

McGovern wrote the screenplay for the 1994 drama, Priest.[6]


McGovern wrote the book for the musical stage show King Cotton, which explores links between the Atlantic slave trade and industrialisation in North West England, as part of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008. King Cotton premiered at the Lowry in September 2007 before moving to the Liverpool Empire.


In 2009, McGovern was the executive producer on the BBC One miniseries Moving On.[7]


McGovern has described cinema scriptwriters as being treated like hacks and forced to crank out countless drafts by successive producers. McGovern has openly criticised dramas such as Footballers' Wives lamenting the lack of quality, believable storytelling in the early 2000s.[8]

He believes that television directors are underrated. He says: "I have worked twice with David Blair" on The Lakes and The Street, "and I can tell you that he is the best there is. He can make a good project great... Why David hasn't won the acclaim he deserves is a mystery to me".[9]

Awards and honours

  • McGovern received two Edgar Awards for Cracker.[]
  • McGovern won an International Emmy for best drama series for The Street in 2010 and The Accused in 2011.[]
  • McGovern won the BAFTA for Best Drama Writer in 2013 for the second series of The Accused.[]
  • Jimmy McGovern was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement award from the Royal Television Society for his body of work.[10]


Programme Date Channel Notes
Brookside 1982-1988 Channel 4 Writer of several episodes
Coronation Street 1990 ITV Episode #1.3115 (writer)
Screenplay BBC Two Series 5, episode 11: "Needle" (writer)
Traitors TV film. Dramatisation of the Gunpowder Plot (later revisited in Gunpowder, Treason & Plot) (writer)
El C.I.D. 1990-1991 ITV Writer of 3 episodes: "A Proper Copper", "Christmas Spirit" and "Piece of Cake"
The Play on One 1991 BBC One 1 episode: "Gas and Candles" (writer)
Cracker 1993-1996, 2006 ITV Creator, and writer of several episodes and 1 special (2006)
Priest 1994 - Film, starring Linus Roache (writer)
Hearts and Minds 1995 Channel 4 Writer of all 4 episodes
Go Now BBC One TV film, starring Robert Carlyle and Juliet Aubrey (co-writer)
Hillsborough 1996 ITV TV film. Dramatised reconstruction of the events of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster (writer)
Fitz 1997 ABC / ITV 5 episodes (original teleplay)
The Lakes 1997-1999 BBC One Creator, and writer of 10 episodes
Heart 1999 - Film, starring Saskia Reeves and Christopher Eccleston (writer)
Dockers Channel 4 TV film. Dramatisation of the Liverpool dockers' strike (1995-1998) (co-writer)
Liam 2000 - Film, starring Ian Hart (writer)
Sunday 2002 Channel 4 TV film. Based on the events of Bloody Sunday (writer)
Gunpowder, Treason & Plot 2004 BBC One TV mini-series. Dramatisation of the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and James I of England (writer)
The Street 2006-2009 Creator, and writer of 17 episodes
Moving On 2009- Creator, and writer of several episodes
Accused 2010-2012 10 episodes (writer)
Common 2014 TV film, set in the north west of England and based on the UK's controversial joint enterprise law (writer)
Banished 2015 BBC Two TV mini-series. Creator, and writer of all 7 episodes
Defendant 2016 FR2 A French language remake of the British drama series Accused (creator)
Reg BBC One TV film. Fact-based drama about the campaign by Reg Keys to obtain answers after the death of his son in the Iraq War (co-writer)
Broken 2017 Writer/co-writer of all 6 episodes
Care 2018 TV film, starring Sheridan Smith. Co-written with Gillian Juckes.[11]


  1. ^ "Cracker writer Jimmy McGovern says he could have been IRA soldier if born in Ireland". Mirror. 24 February 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ "Christopher Eccleston says Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough is most important work he's ever done". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ "Hillsborough (1996)". Screenonline. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ "Industry Support - Indigenous Programs". Screen Australia. 25 October 2010. Archived from the original on 22 April 2011. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ "Renewed: Redfern Now". TV Tonight. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ Echo, Liverpool (2 March 2010). "Jimmy McGovern attends FACT Priest screening". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ "BBC - Press Office - Moving On press pack: introduction".
  8. ^ "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Cracker writer attacks ITV drama".
  9. ^ "Seeing the director's point of view". Financial Times. 27 August 2006.
  10. ^ "BBC, ITV and C4 recognised across the RTS Programme Awards". IBC. 23 March 2018.
  11. ^ "BBC - Sheridan Smith, Alison Steadman and Sinead Keenan to star in Care, a new drama by Jimmy McGovern and Gillian Juckes for BBC One - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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