Sally A Wainwright (born 1963) is an English television writer, producer, and director from Yorkshire. Early in her career Wainwright worked as a playwright, and as a scriptwriter on the long-running radio serial drama The Archers. In the 1990s Wainwright began her television career and in 2000 created her first original drama series At Home with the Braithwaites (2000–2003).
Wainwright for the Eureka! museum in 2018
Sally A Wainwright
|Education||University of York|
She won the Royal Television Society's Writer of the Year Award for the 2009 mini-series Unforgiven. Wainwright is known for her creation of the ITV drama series Scott & Bailey (2011–2016), Last Tango in Halifax (2012–present), and Happy Valley (2014–present). Last Tango in Halifax won the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series in 2013, whilst Happy Valley won the same award in both 2015 and 2017.
Wainwright was born in 1963 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, to Harry Wainwright and Dorothy Wainwright (née Crowther). Wainwright was brought up in Sowerby Bridge where she attended Triangle C of E Primary School and Sowerby Bridge High School. She attended the University of York, reading English and Related Literature. She has an older sister Diane Hilton, a housing professional with The Guinness Partnership.
Wainwright said that she had always wanted to write, and had started writing when she was young, from the time she was 9 years old, and wanted to write for Coronation Street. She said that when she was 16 years old in 1980 she saw a play called Bastard Angel by playwright Barrie Keeffe at the Royal Shakespeare Company and was deeply interested in the short sentences and naturalistic approach to dialogue.
While at the University of York, Wainwright took an original play called Hanging On to the Edinburgh Festival and found an agent, Meg Davis, for her writing in the process. Meanwhile, she worked as a bus driver. When she was 24, she left the driving job after she started writing for the Radio 4 series The Archers. One of her contributions was to write an atypical story for the long-running radio soap in which the village shop was robbed. After that she wrote for Coronation Street, developing her writing skills, from 1994 to 1999. She has since said that working on continuing drama was "a great education in discipline and a lesson that great stories are hard work". She was mentored by Kay Mellor who encouraged her to stop writing for soaps and to concentrate instead on original work. She created the TV series At Home with the Braithwaites about a woman who had secretly won the lottery. The programme was nominated for multiple awards. In 2006 she wrote the drama series Jane Hall, which depicts the life of a female bus driver in London. Wainwright drew on her own experiences in scripting the series.
Wainwright says that her strong yet flawed female characters are "almost real" to her and arrive "fully formed" in her imagination. She likes to control the television that is created and has done some directing and producing of her own work partly to ensure the scenery and dialogue reflects Yorkshire.
In 2011 she wrote Scott & Bailey, a series about two female police officers. The idea for the series came from the actresses Suranne Jones and Sally Lindsay and former Detective Inspector Diane Taylor, who assisted with bringing the series to air.
Wainwright based the plot of her series Last Tango in Halifax on the story of her mother who was widowed in 2001. Her mother, Dorothy, moved to Oxfordshire to live with her daughter and rediscovered a lost love via Friends Reunited. With her mother's permission, Wainwright developed the story of how she remarried so rapidly, showing extracts from the series to her mother before broadcast.
When she told the story to Nicola Shindler, she suggested she turn her mother's experience into a television series. Shindler became the series' executive producer. Both Last Tango in Halifax and her crime series Scott & Bailey were turned down by both the BBC and ITV before being accepted retrospectively. The former was voted by BAFTA to be best series in 2012 and Wainwright was given the award for best writer.
Happy Valley, which was shot in Yorkshire's upper Upper Calder Valley and Hebden Bridge, stars Sarah Lancashire, whom Wainwright had in mind as she wrote the role. Wainwright made her directorial debut with episode 4 of the first series. Wainwright has said that she is willing to write a third series of Happy Valley, but she has previous commitments to work on other projects. Producer Nicola Shindler has indicated that the third series would not air until 2018 at the earliest.
Wainwright wrote and directed a two-hour drama special for BBC One entitled To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters, which aired on BBC One in 2016 and in the US in 2017. Its subject is the Brontë family, particularly the relationship the three sisters, Anne, Emily and Charlotte, had with their brother, Branwell. While working on the drama, Wainwright said "I am thrilled beyond measure that I've been asked by the BBC to bring to life these three fascinating, talented, ingenious Yorkshire women."
In 2019, Wainwright's Gentleman Jack, a drama about the 18th-century Yorkshire landowner, diarist, and open lesbian, Anne Lister, played by Suranne Jones, and Lister's courtship of Ann Walker, played by Sophie Rundle, premiered on both BBC One in the UK and HBO in the US.
|1992–1995||Children's Ward||Yes||Staff Writer|
|1994||The House of Windsor||Yes||1 episode|
|1994–1999||Coronation Street||Yes||57 episodes|
|1999||Bad Girls||Yes||1 episode|
|1999–2000||Playing the Field||Yes||5 episodes|
|2000–2003||At Home with the Braithwaites||Yes||Yes||Yes||Writer, creator and associate producer|
|2002||Sparkhouse||Yes||Yes||Yes||Wrote all 3 episodes; credited as co-producer|
|2003||The Canturbury Tales: The Wife of Bath||Yes||No||No||1 episode|
|2005||ShakespeaRe-Told: The Taming of the Shrew||Yes||1 episode|
|2006||Jane Hall||Yes||Yes||Yes||6 episodes as writer, creator and co-producer|
|2006||The Amazing Mrs Pritchard||Yes||Yes||Yes||6 episodes as writer, creator and associate producer|
|2007||Dead Clever||Yes||Yes||No||Television film|
|2009||Unforgiven||Yes||Yes||Yes||3 episodes as writer, creator and executive producer|
|2011–2016||Scott & Bailey||Yes||Yes||Yes||31 episodes, 19 as writer. Co-creator Diane Taylor|
Based on an idea by Suranne Jones and Sally Lindsay
|2012–present||Last Tango in Halifax||Yes||Yes||Yes||24 episodes as writer, creator and executive producer|
|2013||The Last Witch||Yes||Yes||Yes||Pilot episode/Television film|
|2014-present||Happy Valley||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||12 episodes as writer, creator and executive producer, 5 as director|
|2016||To Walk Invisible||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Television film|
|2018||The Detail||No||No||Yes||No||CTV, Executive Producer|
|2019||Gentleman Jack||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||8 episodes as writer, creator and executive producer, 4 as director|
- 2003: Best Short Drama Banff Festival for The Wife of Bath's Tale
- 2009: RTS Awards, Best Drama Serial for Unforgiven
- 2011: RTS North West Awards, Best Writer for Scott & Bailey
- 2013: Sky WFTV Awards, Technicolor Writing Award
- 2013: BAFTA TV Craft Awards, Best Drama Writer
- 2013: BAFTA TV Craft Awards, Best Drama Series for Last Tango in Halifax
- 2014: Broadcast Awards, Best Drama Series for Happy Valley
- 2014: British Screenwriters’ Awards, Best British TV Drama Writing for Happy Valley
- 2014: Crime Thriller Awards, Best TV Series for Happy Valley
- 2014: TV Choice Awards, Best New Drama for Happy Valley
- 2015: Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, Best Drama Writer
- 2015: BAFTA TV Craft Awards, Best Drama Writer
- 2015: Edgar Allan Poe Awards, Best Television Episode for Happy Valley (episode 1)
- 2015: WGGB Awards, Best Long Form TV Drama for Happy Valley
- 2015: Edinburgh TV Awards, Best Programme of the year for Happy Valley
- 2015: BAFTA Awards, Best Drama Series for Happy Valley
- 2015: BAFTA Awards, Best Writing in a Drama Series for Happy Valley
- 2017: RTS Programme Awards, Best Drama Writer for Happy Valley
- 2017: RTS Programme Awards, Judges' Award
- Wainwright, Sally; Costigan, George; Holt, Judy (22 November 2015). "Sally Wainwright in conversation with George Costigan & Judy Holt" (Video interview). Square Chapel.
- Williams, Zoe (13 August 2016). "Sally Wainwright: 'I don't set out to instruct people. I want to entertain'". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
- "Programme Awards 2009". Royal Television Society Yorkshire. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012.
- Gilbert, Gerard (30 April 2014). "Happy Valley, BBC1 - TV review: Homegrown, Yorkshire-set drama is better than Fargo". The Independent. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- DeWolf Smith, Nancy (14 August 2014). "In Yorkshire's Green but Not Pleasant Land". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- "Last Tango In Halifax: Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid lead cast in a new drama series for BBC One. Interview with writer, Sally Wainwright". BBC One. 11 January 2012.
- "Sally Wainwright: My Yorkshire". Yorkshire Post. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Williamson, Charlotte (22 December 2013). "My mother's late-life love is charming the nation". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "2012 Manchester Literature Festival: Q&A with... Sally Wainwright". BBC writersroom. 2012.
- "Sally Wainwright: BBC Writersroom interviews TV writer and playwright, Sally Wainwright (Last Tango in Halifax, Scott & Bailey, Happy Valley)". BBC writersroom. 19 March 2015.
- "Sally Wainwright meets Matthew Barry". BAFTA Guru Encounters. 30 September 2015.
- "Sally Wainwright Desert Island Discs" (Broadcast). BBC Radio 4. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
- Lockyer, Daphne (1 July 2006). "In the driving seat". The Times. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- Frost, Vicky (6 June 2014). "Sally Wainwright: 'I like writing women, they're heroic'". The Guardian.
- "TV cop dramas irritated me, so I made my own, says the former Detective Inspector behind Scott And Bailey". Manchester Evening News. June 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Graham, Alison (2013). "Can't "bold and memorable female characters" be part of any drama?". Radio Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Howe, Liz (30 April 2014). "Sally Wainwright's Happy Valley showcases Yorkshire". Holdsworth House. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- "Last Tango in Halifax writer Sally Wainwright set to start filming new drama in Hebden Bridge". Halifax Courier. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- Jones, Hannah (28 May 2014). "Happy Valley: Writer Sally Wainwright on TV's most talked about show". Wales Online. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- Doran, Sarah (25 November 2016). "Sally Wainwright delays Happy Valley series three to work on new drama project". Radio Times. Immediate Media Company Limited. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
Though by the time I get round to writing the next series of Happy Valley, the year will have expired.”
- "RTS Fellows | Royal Television Society". rts.org.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
- "BBC One announces new drama by award-winner writer Sally Wainwright". BBC Media Centre.
- ""Gentleman Jack: The Life and Times of Anne Lister – The Official Companion to the BBC Series"" (PDF). London: Ebury Publishing. 31 January 2019. p. 32. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
- "Sherlaw-Johnson mentioned in the record of Sherlaw-Johnson and Sally A Wainwright". FamilySearch. 1990.
- Calkin, Jessamy (9 February 2016). "Behind the scenes of Bafta-winning drama Happy Valley". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
- Anthony, Andrew (6 February 2016). "Sally Wainwright: the titan of genuine reality television". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2020.