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Maurice Gran was born in London on 26 October 1949. Educated at William Ellis School, a grammar school in Highgate, he met writing partner Laurence Marks at a Jewish youth club in Finsbury Park, North London in the 1960s. In 1973 he and Marks began attending ‘Player-Playwrights,’ a scriptwriting club that met at the British Drama League offices in Fitzroy Square, and subsequently began to write together.
Their script submissions to the BBC and ITV were initially unsuccessful and Gran continued in his full time job with the Civil Service as manager of the Tottenham Job Centre. However a chance meeting between Marks and comedy writer Barry Took led to an opportunity for Marks and Gran to write for The Frankie Howerd Show. They continued to submit scripts and in 1980 their sitcom, ‘Holding the Fort,’ was commissioned by London Weekend Television and ran for two years.
Their next collaboration, ‘Roots,’ failed to find an audience but in 1982 their comedy-drama ‘Shine on Harvey Moon’ was a success, running for three years in the 1980s before being revived in 1995. The duo followed up this success with popular sitcoms such as ‘The New Statesman,’ 1987–92, ‘Birds of a Feather,’ 1989–98, and ‘Goodnight Sweetheart,’ 1993–99. ‘The New Statesman’ won an International Emmy Award in 1988 and a BAFTA for best comedy series in 1991. A feature length special episode, ‘Who Shot Alan B’Stard’ also won the 1990 BAFTA for best comedy.
In 1989 Marks and Gran set up their own production company, Alomo Productions, with backing from entrepreneur Allan McKeown. The company’s first production was Birds of a Feather. Subsequent Alomo productions include ‘Get Back,’ 1992-93, featuring Ray Winstone as a victim of the economic recession, ‘Goodnight Sweetheart,’ and comedy drama ‘Love Hurts,’ which ran from 1992-1994. In 1992 Marks and Gran were awarded the prestigious BAFTA Writers’ Award.
As well as comedy, Gran has also collaborated with Laurence Marks on a number of serious dramas. In 1993 they wrote ‘Wall of Silence’ for the BBC, a murder mystery set within the secretive world of London’s ultra–orthodox Chassidic community. In 1996 they were commissioned by Channel 4 to write ‘Mosley,’ a mini-series telling the story of the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley.
In 1993 a meeting with playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn led to Marks and Gran their first play, ‘Playing God,’ a comedy about a dying rock star that premiered at Ayckbourn’s Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in 2005. In 2006 they followed this with ‘The B’Stard Project,’ a stage adaptation of their New Statesman sitcom which toured the UK until 2007 and enjoyed a run in the West End, and in 2010 their play ‘Von Ribbentrop’s Watch’ premiered at the Oxford Playhouse, based on their 2008 Radio 4 drama of the same name. In 2012 they co-wrote a ‘Birds of a Feather’ stage show which subsequently toured the UK before the show’s revival on television in 2014.
In 2008 Marks and Gran were invited to write the script for a new musical, ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats,’ based on a popular compilation album. The musical had its premiere at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley in February 2009, followed by a successful UK tour before moving to the West End where it played until September 2009. It was revived in London in 2012 and toured the UK in 2015. In 2011 Marks and Gran also wrote the script for the sequel ‘Dreamboats and Miniskirts.’
In addition to writing for stage and screen, Maurice Gran has also been a Visiting Lecturer at the University of York, running student workshops with Laurence Marks in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television.