In 1934, a group of Ashington miners and a dental mechanic hired a professor from Newcastle University to teach an Art Appreciation evening class. Unable to understand each other, they embarked on one of the most unusual experiments in British art as the pitmen learned to become painters. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends, their work was taken for prestigious collections and they were celebrated throughout the British art world; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine. The Pitmen Painters premiered at Live Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in September 2007, before transferring to the National Theatre in 2008.
Born in Newcastle in 1966. Started writing for Radio in 1995 winning awards for I Luv You Jimmy Spud, Spoonface Steinberg and Blood Sugar which all made the journey to other media, his screenplay for Billy Elliot was nominated for an Oscar and was adapted into a multi-award winning stage musical. He has worked as writer in residence for Live Theatre, Newcastle and the RSC and has adapted many plays for the stage including Goldoni's A Servant to Two Masters (Young Vic/RSC), Brecht's Mr Puntila and his Man Matti (Right Size/ Almeida) and Heijermans' The Good Hope (RNT). He is currently working with Roger Waters on a stage adaptation of The Wall.