From BT to centre stage, meet new Liverpool playwright Paul Daley who’s re-written his own career and is having the time of his life
1 year ago
The first play he wrote was called Lucky Socks and ended up being performed at the Museum of Liverpool for Light Night three years ago – and it’s clear that from then on new city playwright Paul Daley must have been wearing his own.
There’s been interest from Netflix, a presentation at the Little Liverpool Theatre Festival and a production planned for the Epstein Theatre in August, along with countless pod plays and other theatre performances that have captured attention and received sparkling reviews.
And at 62, Paul is having the time of his life
“It’s all great fun, something I really wanted to do,” says Paul. “I’m at that age where I’m doing what I want to do, and I’ve got the life experiences to write about, and do it.
“I just thought, who dares wins. Be fearless. Take your chances and dive in; what have you got to lose?”
The answer seems to be nothing, but everything to gain.
Paul had already had a successful career which saw him as a manager for BT and for his wife’s hugely successful hairdressing salon – Paul is married to renowned and much-loved Liverpool stylist and consultant Barbara Daley.
So why has it taken until now to realise his writing ambitions?
Paul explains: “I think writing is always something I’ve wanted to do, and times change in so many ways. Being a writer was something I’d never have contemplated when I was young.
“I didn’t come from an educated background, I was brought up in the Dingle and Walton, none of my family went to university…
“But my mum wrote, little poems and short stories. It was just for herself because, back then, there wasn’t the outlet or people to share it.”
In 1985, Paul wrote a couple of short stories that would start the ambition to put pen to paper, and has been developing over almost four decades.
“It probably started when Barbara and I got married. We were both from working class backgrounds and so theatre hadn’t been the thing we did, but we started doing different things together and going to the theatre was one of them.
“We’d go to see plays written by Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell at The Playhouse, and I thought I could do that.”
Paul began writing Everton match reports for a South Liverpool free newspaper: “My first report was for Everton v Queen’s Park Rangers, and the score was 0-0, I’ve got it in a little frame.”
Then he took on PR when he and Barbara opened the salon, and then they wrote a column, Salon Talk, in the Echo; later Paul started writing a weekly piece for its Sunday publication.
His writing was bubbling under the surface, and it got him thinking about ideas, and into the habit of putting his thoughts down.
“Then about four years ago I saw something about the Lantern Writers – a supportive group for people who want to write for theatre, radio and screen – looking for people to join, and I started going there.
“For Light Night we were asked to write about things that are lucky for you, so I wrote a short story about a man who had to have his lucky socks on to go to a footie match. They liked it and got someone to do it for me, and Lucky Socks was performed at the Museum of Liverpool.
“It was the first I had done and I thought, I’m going to do more of this.”
Paul made writing part of his daily routine and, as people asked for submissions, it wasn’t long before he had four new plays written that people wanted to perform.
“Then Covid struck.”
Undeterred, Paul kept writing and, as well as short plays he got performed on Zoom, and pod series he wrote for MancMade Productions, Fourteen Fifty Nine and The Golden Goose, he began producing short films.
He teamed up with friend and hairdresser, Gavin Meredith, through which he has made a number of films, Clowns, Fran and Jack the Ripper.
Paul, who set up his own production company Pampas Grass Productions, has even written a full-length film which piqued the interest of Netflix: “The film is called The Coffin, about a family whose grandad dies and they have no money to bury him; so they see a coffin advertised for free on Ebay and go to Chester to pick it up. But the van breaks down and they have to get back to Liverpool on the train, the ferry, and the bus.
“It’s funny, writing humour is what I’m comfortable with (although that’s not to say I don’t want to write more serious stuff).
“Netflix showed interest in The Coffin but then it didn’t happen, but when we get some money, we’re making that and it’s going to make us our fortune,” he grins. “It’s going to get us to Cannes!”
Until that trip across the Channel Paul will be keeping busy.
He’s got live pod plays for MancMade later this year, and other plays in the pipeline: one about Mal Evans who was a roadie for the Beatles and who was shot by the police in LA in 1976; Tea with Violet about the mother of the Kray twins, and The Bitters, a comedic look at three Everton supporters who try to hide away so they don’t have to listen to Liverpool fans cheering when they win the Champion League Final (Paul is an Evertonian) and that’s the play he is hoping to put on at The Epstein in August.
“The great thing is when you make people laugh,” says Paul. “I wrote It Must Be Love which was put on at The Hope Street Theatre, and the Little Liverpool Film Festival at the Bombed Out Church and it was there, one night, that the prompter couldn’t make it, so I sat side of stage, behind the curtain, in case anyone forgot their lines.
“I remember hearing people laugh. Not because I was sitting next to them and they thought they’d better, but because it was funny.
“Hearing that response to something I wrote was lovely. I’m having the time of my life.”