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Liverpool Icons: Frank Cottrell-Boyce – How his words and wisdom have impacted us all

1 year ago

Liverpool Icons: Frank Cottrell-Boyce – How his words and wisdom have impacted us all
Picture - Shakespeare North

Whilst not as instantly recognisable as some of those featured in this series, Frank Cottrell-Boyce is every inch a Liverpool Icon. 

And, ahead of his sold-out interview with Steve Coogan at Shakespeare North Playhouse next month, the award-winning author and screenwriter makes a timely appearance on our Liverpool icons list. 

From Brookside to The Beautiful Game, from Cosmic to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, the words and wisdom of Frank Cottrell Boyce have impacted us all. 

Whether you realise it or not. 

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Born in Bootle in 1959, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and his family relocated to Rainhill whilst he was still in primary school.  

Inspiration came to the youngster from an unlikely source. During frequent visits to the local library, he’d pore through stories of The Moomins by Finnish writer and author Tove Jansson. 

Tales of those loveable trolls made a significant impression on the boy, cementing a lifelong love of children’s stories. 

After attending St Bartholomew’s in Rainhill and West Park Grammar School (now De La Salle), Frank read English at Oxford, where he earned a doctorate. 

He started his career as a television critic for the communist magazine Living Marxism. (Legend has it that a copy of the publication was displayed at the Coronation Street newsagent in episodes written by Frank.)

As a young man, he also wrote 28 episodes of the iconic Scouse soap, Brookside. 

His career as a screenwriter truly began to take shape upon meeting the filmmaker and longtime collaborator Michael Winterbottom. 

The duo, frustrated by their apprenticeships at a London Television studio, teamed up to film and produce a script written by Boyce. Although the film was never made, Boyce and Winterbottom forged a partnership that would go on to create some memorable movies. 

Welcome to Sarajevo, starring Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei, no less, premiered at Cannes in 1997 and put the pair firmly on the map. 

Boyce and Winterbottom linked up again on 2000’s The Claim before delivering one of British cinema’s biggest-ever cult classics, 24-Hour Party People, in 2002. 

Starring Steve Coogan as head of Factory Records and television presenter Tony Wilson, 24-Hour Party People is a biographical comedy-drama about Manchester’s music scene from the late ’70s to the early ’90s.

One of the most quotable films committed to camera, 24-Hour Party People will be the star of the show when Coogan interviews Cottrell Boyce at Shakespeare Playhouse North on February 4th. 

A couple of years on, Frank teamed up with Trainspotting director Danny Boyle on the family film, Millions. He later turned the screenplay into a novel, another area in which the Scouser excels.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

This debut novel won the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and his following books have been shortlisted for several prizes. 

Since publishing Millions in 2004, Cottrell Boyce has gone on to pen many children’s classics. These include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, Framed, Noah’s Gold, Cosmic and The Amazing Brocolli Boy. 

Alongside this, Frank teamed up again with Danny Boyle to devise the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics and wrote for the supreme TV series Dr Who. 

He also revisited his partnership with Coogan in 2021 for ITV’s limited series Stephen, based on the tragic true story of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in London. 

Last year saw the release of two films written by Cottrell-Boyce, The Beautiful Game and Kensuke’s Kingdom. 

This only scratches the surface of a remarkable Merseyside man. 

Father of seven, devout catholic and patron of the Insight Film Festival, there’s so much more to be written. 

Written, we hope, by the man himself. 

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Tickets for An Evening with Frank Cottrell-Boyce at Shakespeare North Playhouse are now sold out. 

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