Heidi Thomas – Dramatist and writer

Heidi Thomas is one of the UK’s top dramatists, and her acclaimed career in stage, film and television drama spans 30 years. Her award-winning theatrical work has been produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Liverpool Playhouse, Almeida, Royal Court and Chichester Festival Theatres, and seen at the National Theatre Studio, the National Theatre of Norway, and on Broadway.

Her classic adaptations for the large and small screen include Cranford, Return to Cranford, Madame Bovary, Ballet Shoes, I Capture The Castle and Little Women. Her writer- creator series credits include the original period BBC drama series Lilies, and the revived Upstairs, Downstairs.

Heidi created and writes the worldwide hit BBC show Call the Midwife, now in its 10th season and seen in 212 territories internationally.

Her work has been acknowledged and awarded by the Emmys, BAFTA, the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Heidi is also married to actor Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Turner in Call the Midwife.

My schools:
My first year of primary education was in a tiny village school in Yorkshire – there was no playground, just a field full of sheep! I was terrified every playtime. After my family moved back to Liverpool, I went to Booker Avenue County Primary in Allerton, then St Edmund’s College, a C of E grammar school, now sadly closed. I then rounded things off with a degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Liverpool

My favourite teacher:
Mrs Bell, at Booker Avenue. She was a truly compelling educator – she could turn history, science, astronomy and even geology into the best and most exciting stories you had ever heard.

My favourite subject at school:
History. I can remember learning about the Great War for the first time when I was about 8, and our teacher, Mr Bailey, describing how the blood “was so thick they had to scrape it off the stretchers with a knife”. It was shocking, but I was absolutely captivated.

Were you streetwise or a bit of a geek?
Suburban children didn’t have to be streetwise in the early 1970’s, for which I am truly grateful. I was definitely a geek – I liked books and I went to church – but mostly just allowed to be myself. I’m not sure I would fare so well in the present day.

My favourite childhood singer/band:
I loved the Osmond Brothers so much my mum was genuinely worried that I might become a Mormon.

My favourite extra-curricular activity:
I adored ballet – for 14 years I was a pupil at the Constance Moss School of Dance and Drama. I still love ballet as an art form, though I hung up my pointe shoes when I was 18.

Do you remember your first school crush?
Yes, and I’m not even going to tell you his initials! In our final year at Booker Avenue, we were both in the school play, which was The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. He was dressed as a beaver and completely stole my heart.

My favourite book:
I loved Little Women and Ballet Shoes, both of which I have since adapted for the screen.

School dinners:
There were no options in Liverpool in the 1970’s! All the food was cooked in a central kitchen, and arrived at school in vans. You ate what you were given, and it was terrible.

My ambitions at school:
I was hooked on the ITV drama Crown Court, and wanted to be barrister.

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