LATEST NEWS: March 2000: 'Topsy Turvy' nominated for 4 Oscars:- 'Best Art Direction', 'Best Costume Design', 'Best Make-Up', and 'Best Original Screenplay' March 27th: 'Nuts In May' released on DVD

"I love Manchester. I come here very often. I was born here and I have family here. My mother lives here and when I was growing up here it was an age where Victoriana was all around." - Mike Leigh

Born on the 20th February, 1943 in Salford, director Mike Leigh had a Jewish upbringing, although he now claims to be an atheist.

Before shooting to fame in 1971 with his brilliant debut film 'Bleak Moments', which won the Grand Prix at both the Locarno and Chicago Film Festivals, Mike had directed the 1965 stage play, 'Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against The Eunuchs'. Indeed, it was in the theatre that Mike crafted his trade, writing the 1965 plays 'Waste Paper Guards' and 'The Box Play'.

With differing success, Mike also directed the plays 'My Parents Have Gone To Carlisle / The Last Crusade of the Five Little Nuns' (1966), 'Neena' (1967), 'Individual Fruit Pies', 'Down Here And Up There', 'Big Basil', 'Glum Victoria and The Lad with Specs' (all 1968) and 'Epilogue' (1969).

In 1970 his play, 'Bleak Moments', won rave reviews and very quickly Mike found himself recreating the story as a cinematic film. The reaction was phenomenal and Mike soon found himself moving into television, directing "A Mug's Game" ('72) and 'Hard Labour' ('73).

Returning to theatre, Mike directed the stage plays, 'A Rancid Pong' (1971), 'Wholesome Glory', 'The Jaws Of Death' and 'Dick Whittington and His Cat' (all 1973). In 1974 he directed the stage play 'The Silent Majority' before his 'Babies Grow Old' play was performed by the RSC.

Venturing further into television, his films 'Permissive Society' ('75), 'Nuts In May' ('76), 'Knock For Knock' ('76), 'The Kiss Of Death' ('77), 'Abigail's Party' ('77), and 'Who's Who' ('78) won him massive praise as did his 1979 Hampstead Theatre play 'Ecstacy'.

The television films, 'Grown-Ups' (1980), 'Meantime' ('81), 'Home Sweet Home' and 'The Five Minute Films' (both '82) followed as did the Hampstead and Garrick Theatre productions of 'Goose-Pimples'.

Mike directed both 'Four Days In July' (1984) and 'The Short And Curlies' ('87) for television whilst also enjoying success with his plays 'Smelling A Rat' ('88) and 'Greek Tragedy' ('89), however it was on a larger scale that Mike needed to express his talent.

In 1988, Mike directed a funny yet touching movie that indicated he had not lost touch with his Salford routes. 'High Hopes' was a cinematic reaction to Margaret Thatcher's overhaul of British society and despite the film's hilarious, silly moments Mike was able to deliver a realistic and poignant message.

In 1990, Mike directed his unsettling but sweet-tempered 'Life Is Sweet' movie, which starred his wife, Alison Steadman (famed for her portrayal of Beverly in his 'Abigail's Party') and Manchester actress Jane Horrocks.

'Two Mikes Don't Make a Wright', and 'A Sense of History' saw Mike return to television work before venturing on what was his most successful year to date.

1993 brought Mike Leigh the kind of success he could only have dreamed of as a young Mancunian child. His Stratford-upon-Avon stage play, 'It's A Great Big Shame', was performed in the same year that he was given the O.B.E., just one of many coveted awards he was to collect that year.

The sad black comedy, 'Naked', saw Mike Leigh crowned as 'The Best Director' at the Cannes Film Festival, whilst David Thewlis won a whole raft of awards both at Cannes and also in Hollywood for his performance of Johnny, a witty and intelligent loveable rogue. The film opens during a violent sexual encounter in a Manchester back-alley before Johnny steals a car and flees to London.

In 1996, Mike returned with the truely fascinating 'Secrets & Lies', which won the 'Palme d'Or' (The Best Film) at Cannes. As with all his films, the audience relate to the characters in the movie as if they have known them for years. The long-take of Brenda Blethyn (Cynthia) and Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Hortense) in 'Secrets & Lies' proves that Mike Leigh's unique filming technique is just astounding.

Playing a strong role as a white mother re-united with the black daughter she placed for adoption as a child, Blethyn won the 'Best Actress Award' at Cannes. The film was nominated for five Oscars and won three BAFTAs - a real testament to the Mancunian director.

With his 1997 film 'Career Girls', Mike continues with his somewhat sentimental but strong characterization approach. Starring his wife, Lynda Steadman (as Annie), and Katrin Cartlidge (Hannah), the movie blends comedy and drama whilst following the two characters as they reunite on a train, six years after graduating from university together. The film lacked the big production figures of both his previous film and the blockbuster which was to follow:

In 'Topsy Turvy', his latest movie, Mike Leigh follows a year in the life of the celebrated comic opera partnership Gilbert and Sullivan, painting a wonderfully warm-hearted picture of life in the Victorian theatre. True to style, the brilliant director takes a close look at the individual characters that make the movie the hugely enjoyable cinematic masterpiece that it is.

'Topsy Turvey' has already won the 'Best Picture' and 'Best Director' awards at both the Venice and New York Film Festivals, and has also been nominated for four Oscars including 'Best Art Direction' and 'Best Original Screenplay' (the others two being 'Best Costume Design' and 'Best Make-Up').

Mike's unique way of working with his actors is famed throughout the cinema world. Extensive one-to-ones and hours of improvisation allow him to structure the script during filming. Maveric or genius? Mike Leigh certainly does things differently!

Whilst his films are not to everyone's tastes, Mike Leigh's films have been hailed as a kind of "neo-Marxist Dickens", chronicling the ups and downs of British working-class life. You can take Mike Leigh out of Manchester but you will never take Manchester out of Mike Leigh!

Mike Leigh Merchandise at united MANCHESTER

2000
To be released in July
The Films Of Mike Leigh
(Ray Carney examines Mike's working method and films in the intellectual and social contexts in which they were created. All of the major box office hits, including "Naked", "Life is Sweet" and "High Hopes", are analyzed, interpreted and shown to be among the finest examples of modern cinema.)
Pre-Order Book
in association with Amazon.co.uk

2000
To be released in May Mike Leigh Interviews
(Howie Movshovitz collection of interviews with Mike Leigh, offering an insight into the wonderful world of the acclaimed director.)
Pre-Order Book
in association with Amazon.co.uk

2000
  Naked
(One of a hand-picked selection of some of the most popular and cult-worthy titles on Faber and Faber's list of film scripts.)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1999
Topsy Turvy - Original Soundtrack
(the superb soundtrack for Mike Leigh's latest blockbuster)
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in association with 101cd.com

1999
Gilbert & Sullivan's London
(Andrew Goodman's book unfolds the story of Gilbert and Sullivan in the places where they lived and worked and includes a foreward by Mike.)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1998
Career Girls
(Former flatmates Annie (Lynda Steadman) and Hannah (Katrin Cartilidge) meet up for the weekend, having changed since their student days of some 10 years earlier. The curry loving, "Cure" obsessed and moody flatmates of yesteryear have been replaced by confident career girls of today. As they talk, go flat-hunting, and get drunk the girls reminisce upon their friendship. Mike Leigh at his best!)
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or DVD in association with Blackstar.co.uk

1997
Career Girls
(Mike Leigh's screenplay from his stunning film)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1997
The World According To Mike Leigh
(Michael Coveney's biography is a lovingly and painstakingly researched account of the Mike's life. Whilst mainly concentrating on his theatre-work, the book does have some revelations including the fact that, along with Ken Loach, Mike produced several of the McDonald's TV adverts.)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1997
Secrets & Lies
(Mike Leigh's screenplay from his multi-award winning film)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1995
Secrets & Lies
(Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is a young, black optometrist whose adoptive parents have recently died. Cynthia (Brenda Blesyth) is a sad, unmarried mother who works in a factory and lives in a shabby terraced house with her confrontational daughter Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook). Cynthia's brother Maurice (Timothy Spall) is a successful wedding photographer who lives comfortably in suburbia with his snooty wife Monica (Phyllis Logan). In a misplaced effort to re-unite the family, Maurice and Monica throw a small barbecue party for Roxanne's 21st birthday. When Cynthia brings along her new friend Hortense, chaos ensues as some painful truths are revealed. Nominated for 5 Oscars, winner of 3 BAFTA Awards and the winner of Best Film at Cannes)
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or DVD in association with Blackstar.co.uk

1995
Naked & Other Screenplays
(Three screenplays by Mike. "Naked" presents a bleak picture of urban society, "Life is Sweet" is a gentle comedy in which the pain of everyday life is borne with a wry smile, and "High Hopes" is a comedy of class-ridden life in contemporary Britain)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1993
Naked
(Mike's most controversial and commercial work to date following Johnny (David Thewlis) from a violent rape in Manchester to his new life in London. Johnny is the ultimate anti-hero of the 1990's - cold, cynical and immoral, yet at times both caring and passionate. His complex existence is sketched with the hand of a master, as violence and gentleness, comedy and tragedy go hand in hand through a landscape inhabited by the sort of characters that only Mike Leigh can create)
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in association with Blackstar.co.uk

1990
Life Is Sweet
(Wendy (Alison Steadman) and Andy (Jim Broadbent) have twin daughters, Natalie and Nicola. Nicola's boyfriend is tired of gratifying her sexual appetite and wants intelligent conversation, something she cannot cope with. As Nicola (Jane Horrocks) heads towards a breakdown and Andy is injured, Wendy proves to be a tower of strength)
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in association with Blackstar.co.uk

1989
Smelling A Rat
(Mike Leigh's drama text from his brilliant stage play)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1989
Ecstasy
(Mike Leigh's drama text from his brilliant stage play)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1984
Abigail's Party
(Alison Steadman won two Best Actress awards for her portrayal of the bored, bitchy hostess in this savagely funny study of pretentious middle-class social manners. It also stars Tim Stern, Janine Duvitski, John Salthouse and Harriet Reynolds)
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in association with Blackstar.co.uk

1984
Nuts In May
(Keith Pratt (Roger Sloman) and his wife, Marie (Alison Steadman) are 'into' health foods and organic farming and believe in obeying the country code. Mike's film follows the couple on a camping holiday in Dorset, hilariously capturing the atmosphere of a camp site. A lively, witty look at life under canvas where tolerance is pushed to the limit)
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or Order DVD in association with Blackstar.co.uk

1983
Meantime
(Frank and his two deadbeat sons, Mark and Colin are unemployed and living in a cramped apartment. Wanting to escape the doldrums of his mediocre world, Colin spends countless hours with Coxy, a reckless skinhead. This new friendship frightens Colin's family, whose attempts to direct him on the straight path end up unsuccessful.)
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or Pre-Order DVD with Blackstar.co.uk

1983
Abigail's Party/ Goose-Pimples
(Mike Leigh's drama texts from his two brilliant plays)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1982
Goose-Pimples
(Mike Leigh's drama text for his critically acclaimed play)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1979
Abigail's Party
(Mike Leigh's drama text for his stunning play, later made into a film)
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in association with Amazon.co.uk

1971

Bleak Moments
(Mike's debut film already contains the seeds of his later acclaimed movies. A spinster, a schoolteacher and a would-be pop star from Scunthorpe are just some of his brilliantly conceived characters, living lives of desperation and
absurdity. Beneath the acid wit, there is also sympathy and a disturbing vision of Britainís repressive society)

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in association with Blackstar.co.uk
Lots more MIKE LEIGH Videos and DVDs at
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