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Thacker studied at the University of York.
Thacker was the artistic director at the Octagon Theatre Bolton until July 2015, when he stepped down to become the first Professor of Theatre at University of Bolton. He will continue as associate director, directing two productions per year, until 2018. He has directed over 100 theatre productions including plays by William Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, Tom Stoppard and Eugene O'Neill.
Building on the success of the Octagon’s 40th anniversary season, Thacker planned a year-long programme of work for his first season. The wide-ranging repertoire of productions includes plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen and Miller, a world premiere, a co-production, a revival of one of Mark Babych's (Artistic Director 1998–2008) most successful productions, contemporary classics and a musical.
Thacker has worked at eight producing theatres including the Royal Shakespeare Company (Director-in-Residence), the Young Vic (Director), the Dukes Playhouse, Lancaster (Theatre Director), and the National Theatre. Seven of his productions have transferred to the West End.
Thacker is also a prolific television director. He has directed more than 30 TV productions, including episodes of The Vice, Silent Witness, Foyle's War and Waking the Dead. He has also directed films, such as Measure for Measure, A Doll’s House, Broken Glass, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Faith, the critically acclaimed film for the BBC set in the Miners' Strike.
- "David Thacker Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-01.