Mike Bartlett (playwright)

Michael Bartlett (born 7 October 1980)[2] is an English playwright.[3]

Mike Bartlett
BornMichael Bartlett
(1980-10-07) 7 October 1980
Oxford, England
OccupationPlaywright, theatre director
Period2002 – present
Notable awards2010 Laurence Olivier Award - Outstanding Achievement In An Affiliate Theatre
2015 Laurence Olivier Awards - Best New Play and Outstanding Achievement In Affiliate Theatre
2006 Tinniswood Award
2006 Richard Imison Award
2013 BAFTA award nomination - Breakthrough Talent (Television Craft category)[1]

He has also written screenplays for film and TV series. His 2015 series, Doctor Foster, starring Suranne Jones, won the New Drama award from National Television Awards.[4] Bartlett also won Best Writer from the Broadcast Press Guild Awards.[5] A BBC TV Film of Bartlett's play King Charles III was broadcast in May 2017 and while critically acclaimed, generated some controversy.[6]


Bartlett was born on 7 October 1980 in Oxford, England. He attended Abingdon School, then studied English and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds.[7] Bartlett lives in Oxfordshire and is married to theatre director Clare Lizzimore.[8] He is an atheist.[9]


In July 2005, Bartlett took part in the Old Vic's New Voices 24 Hour Plays culminating in the performance of his play Comfort which had to be written and performed in 24 hours.[10]

His radio play Not Talking was broadcast by the BBC on Saturday, 29 March 2007.[11] The play explored the issues surrounding conscientious objection in the UK during World War II and also at the problems of bullying within the armed forces. The play featured Richard Briers and June Whitfield.[11]

Bartlett won the 2006 Tinniswood Award for Not Talking and the 2006 Imison Award for a drama by a writer new to radio on 18 October 2007.[12]

In May 2007, while he held the position of "writer in residence" at the Royal Court Theatre, his play My Child premiered there.[13]

His play, Artefacts, was performed at The Bush Theatre[14] in London in 2008 before a national tour, produced by new writing specialists Nabokov.[15] Also in 2008 he adapted his radio play Love Contract for the Royal Court Theatre.[16]

In 2009 Bartlett's play Cock premiered at the Royal Court directed by James Macdonald. It won the 2010 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement In An Affiliate Theatre.[3]

In the summer of 2010 Bartlett's work was staged for the first time at the National Theatre. Earthquakes in London, directed by Rupert Goold, was described by Michael Billington in the Guardian as an "epic, expansive play about climate change, corporate corruption, fathers and children".[17] Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph called it "the theatrical equivalent of a thrilling roller coaster ride", delivering "a rush of invention, humour and raw emotion".[18]

In December 2010, Abingdon School and St Helen and St Katharine School performed the first ever amateur production of Bartlett's play Earthquakes in London, less than three months after it finished its run at the National Theatre. The schools were given special permission to put the play on, as Bartlett is a former pupil of Abingdon. He attended the last night as guest of honour.[19]

Also in 2010, Bartlett's play Love, Love, Love was premiered in a touring production. In 2012 it has its London premiere at the Royal Court. Michael Coveney, writing for Whatsonstage.com, called it "one of the most ambitious, and most accomplished, domestic dramas in a long while".[20]

In 2011 Bartlett returned to the National Theatre, this time on its largest stage (the Olivier), with 13, another contemporary epic. In a favourable review in the Guardian, Michael Billington explained, "Bartlett is saying that we live in a Britain where the old tribal loyalties are increasingly irrelevant. The real divide is between a popular protest movement, fed on Facebook and Twitter, that hungers for a change of direction, and an entrenched governmental system that clings precariously to the status quo."[21] Ian Shuttleworth of the Financial Times noted that this was a play in which "sprawl wins out": "Both here and in Earthquakes Bartlett is groping towards some sense of a need to reconcile the worldly and the numinous. In this society, in the 21st century, that may be an admirable impulse for an individual, but in this case it is not proving a useful approach for a playwright."[22]

In 2012 Bartlett adapted Chariots of Fire for the stage. It premiered at Hampstead Theatre before transferring to the West End. He also adapted the Euripides play Medea, in a touring production he directed himself; it starred Rachael Stirling in the title role.

Later in 2012, ITV1 premiered the Crime drama The Town starring Andrew Scott (Sherlock) and Martin Clunes.[23][24] Bartlett was subsequently nominated for a BAFTA award for best "Breakthrough Talent" in the TV Craft category in the 2013 awards in relation to The Town.[1][25]

In October 2013 Bartlett won Best New Play at The National Theatre Awards for his play Bull, beating plays from both Alan Ayckbourn and Tom Wells.[26][27]

In 2014 his play King Charles III premiered at the Almeida. It subsequently transferred to Wyndham's Theatre and in January 2015 won the Critics' Circle Award for Best Play of 2014. It premiered in Australia at the Sydney Theatre Company in April 2016.[28]

In March 2015 his play Game premiered at the Almeida Theatre in London, England.[29]

In April 2015 Bartlett's plays were awarded two additional Olivier Awards, his play King Charles III won Best New Play, and his play Bull, directed by Clare Lizzimore and produced by Supporting Wall at the Young Vic Theatre, won Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre.

Barlett's five-part television drama series Doctor Foster was broadcast in September and October 2015. The series achieved an average of 9.51 million viewers, and was one of the most viewed television drama series of the year. In addition to being a critical success, the drama won two awards at the 2016 National Television Awards in the categories of Best New Drama and Drama Performance for Suranne Jones. A second series commenced showing in September 2017.

In December 2015, Polly Hill, the Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, announced a six 60-minute episode television series entitled Press that had been written by Bartlett. Commenting about the series, Bartlett said “From exposing political corruption to splashing on celebrity scandal, editors and journalists have enormous influence over us, yet recent events have shown there’s high-stakes and life-changing drama going on in the news organisations themselves. I’m hugely excited to be working with the BBC to make Press, a behind-the-scenes story about a group of diverse and troubled people who shape the stories and headlines we read every day.”[30] In October 2016, Hill, now the Head of Drama at ITV, announced that Bartlett would be returning to the channel for a new project, Trauma. Bartlett described the three-part series to be "about two fathers with very different lives, locked in conflict." The series will begin filming in early summer 2017.[31]

In 2016 Bartlett was hired to write an episode of Doctor Who's tenth series.[32]

On 10 May 2017, the BBC broadcast a TV adaptation of Bartlett's play, King Charles III, which generated controversy. The reviewer in The Daily Telegraph gave it five stars, calling it "pure televisual gelignite".[6]

Works as writer

  • Press - BBC
  • Albion - 2017 play (Almeida Theatre, London)
  • Trauma - ITV
  • King Charles III - BBC Two, 10 May 2017 (film adaptation of his play of the same name)
  • Doctor Who, "Knock Knock" - BBC One, 6 May 2017
  • Press - BBC One
  • Doctor Foster - BBC One, 2015, 2017
  • Wild, played at Hampstead Theatre, London 10 June to 16 July 2016
  • Game, 2015 dramatic play
  • King Charles III, 2014 play, premiered at the Almeida Theatre London, then transferred to the West End, Broadway and Sydney Theatre Company in Australia
  • An Intervention, 2014 play
  • The Right Honourable - a radio play, broadcast 2 November 2013[33][34]
  • The Town - a TV crime drama series for ITV1, premiered 5 December 2012 (UK)
  • Medea - an adaptation of Euripides' Medea - touring production for Headlong, 27 September to 1 December
  • Bull - premiered at Crucible Studio Theatre, Sheffield 6 February 2013; transferred to 59E59 (New York City), 25 April 2013; transferred to Young Vic produced by Supporting Wall, 15 January 2014
  • Chariots of FireHampstead Theatre, London 9 May to 16 June 2012; Gielgud Theatre 23 June 2012 to 2 February 2013
  • The Core - Woman's Hour Drama for BBC Radio 4, 5–9 September 2011.
  • 13 - National Theatre, 2011–2012/ Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2016 [35]
  • Heart - Afternoon Play for BBC Radio 4, 18 May 2011.
  • Love, Love, Love - Paines Plough, 2010
  • Earthquakes in London - National Theatre, 2010
  • Cock - Royal Court - November 2009
  • Liam - Woman's Hour Drama for BBC Radio 4, 14–18 September 2009.
  • Contractions - an adaptation of his radio play Love Contract at the Royal Court, 2008
  • Artefacts - commissioned and produced by Nabokov and first performed at The Bush Theatre, London - February / March 2008.
  • Love Contract - BBC Radio 4, 14 November 2007
  • The Family Man - 2007 5 part Radio Drama produced for Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4
  • My Child - May 2007 (Royal Court Theatre)
  • Stuff I Buried in a Small Town - March 2006 (Hampstead Theatre)
  • Not Talking - commissioned by BBC Radio 3 show The Wire, 2 March 2006
  • Comfort - 24 hour play - July 2005 (Old Vic Theatre)
  • Silent Charities - July 2005 (Finborough Theatre)
  • Why People Really Burn - 2003 (The Underbelly – Edinburgh Fringe)
  • Swimming for Beginners - 2002 (The Workshop Theatre, Leeds)
  • The Love at Last - 2002 (Gilded Balloon – Edinburgh Fringe)

Directing work

  • Lark Rise to Candleford - July–October 2005 (Shapeshifter/Finborough Theatre)
  • Soldiers - July–August 2004 (Shapeshifter)

See also


  1. "Television Craft in 2013 | BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org.
  2. Hoby, Hermione (8 November 2009). "Most theatre is still really bad". The Guardian. London.
  3. "The Royal Court's Olivier award-winning play Cock by Mike Bartlett to open off-Broadway Spring 2012". Royal Court. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  4. National Television Awards. "Winners — National Television Awards". nationaltvawards.com.
  5. Plunkett, John (11 March 2016). "Wolf Hall's Mark Rylance wins best actor at Broadcasting Press Guild awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  6. Rees, Jasper (10 May 2017). "King Charles III review: a majestic, unmissable drama". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  7. "Home - Leeds Alumni Online - University of Leeds". alumni.leeds.ac.uk.
  8. Nathan, John (31 August 2018). "Mike Bartlett on Press, his new TV drama about newspapers" via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  9. Wolf, David. "Thoroughly modern Mike". Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  10. Theatrevoice.co.uk
  11. "BBC Radio 3 - The Wire, Not Talking, by Mike Bartlett". BBC.
  12. "Writersguild.org". Archived from the original on 31 May 2008.
  13. My Child by Mike Bartlett, at the Royal Court Theatre; Royalcourttheatre.com (accessed 26 February 2008)
  14. Artefacts by Mike Bartlett, at the Bush Theatre; Bushtheatre.co.uk(accessed 26 February 2008)
  15. Nabokov present Artefacts by Mike Bartlett; Nabokov-online.com (accessed 26 February 2008)
  16. "Contractions". Royal Court.
  17. Billington, Michael (5 August 2010). "Review | Theatre | Earthquakes in London | Cottesloe | Michael Billington" via www.theguardian.com.
  18. Spencer, Charles (5 August 2010). "Earthquakes in London, National Theatre, review" via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  19. "Abingdon.org.uk".
  20. "Whatsonstage review of Love, Love, Love, 4 May 2012".
  21. Billington, Michael (25 October 2011). "13 – review" via www.theguardian.com.
  22. "Subscribe to read". Financial Times.
  23. Cavendish, Dominic (5 December 2012). "The Town: what Moriarty did next". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  24. The Huffington Post
  25. "Mike Bartlett: Q&A". guru.bafta.org.
  26. Kennedy, Maev (20 October 2013). "UK Theatre awards: women scoop acting prizes" via www.theguardian.com.
  27. "This Is My Family musical wins two UK Theatre Awards". BBC News. 20 October 2013.
  28. "King Charles III by Mike Bartlett". Sydney Theatre Company. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  29. Kellaway, Kate (8 March 2015). "Game review – Mike Bartlett's unnerving drama makes voyeurs of the audience". The Observer.
  30. "Polly Hill, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, announces new slate of drama". BBC Media Centre.
  31. "ITV commissions four new dramas - Trauma, Girlfriends, White Dragon and Next of Kin". ITV Press Centre.
  32. Doran, Sarah (14 June 2016). "Doctor Foster writer to pen an episode of Doctor Who series 10". Radio Times.
  33. "BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Drama - the Right Honourable". 2 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  34. Reynolds, Gillian (1 November 2013). "Today's radio highlights". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  35. https://www.theatreroyal.co.uk/whats-on/13%5B%5D
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