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Success story of Cracker creator

Without the Scottie Road Writers' Workshop, Jimmy McGovern might never have written the screenplay for the award-winning Screen Two film Priest or the highly-acclaimed Granada television series Cracker.

Jimmy McGovern had always been a secret writer, attempting short stories and, he confessed "novels that never got past page six". But it was not until he joined the writers' workshop that he had his first piece of work published. This was a short story called The Day of the Rat, which appeared in a magazine produced by the Liverpool group.

It was also through the Scottie Road group that Jimmy McGovern - who was working as a warehouseman at the time - became interested in the theatre and decided to go back into formal education.

"The best thing the workshop did for me was that I met other working-class people like myself who were involved in further education," he says. "I'd left school at 16 and thought that the door was forever shut, and then I heard about mature student grants."

With the help of these grants, he trained as a teacher. He then worked as a drama teacher and continued with his own writing.

He eventually became a writer for Brookside, writing about 80 episodes for the Channel 4 soap.

Later in his writing career he drew on his teaching experiences when he wrote Hearts and Minds, a serial screened by Channel 4 in February.

As part of his research for the piece, which painted an overwhelmingly pessimistic picture of school life, he returned to the classroom to teach.

The piece reflected the views of the working-class lad made good, aware of what he calls the raw deal that working-class children were dealt by life in general and teachers in particular.

And now with characteristic frankness Jimmy McGovern, who is still involved in some of the Merseyside writers' workshops, castigates the "political correctness" of those who run the community writing and publishing movement.

"If we are working-class people describing working-class lives, then a lot of what we say will not be PC and I put authenticity and integrity above being politically correct."

But in spite of his criticisms he acknowledges his debt to the movement without which, he says, Cracker would not have happened.

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