fonds MGRA - The Marks and Gran Archive

Identity area

Reference code

MGRA

Title

The Marks and Gran Archive

Date(s)

  • 1959-2012 (Creation)

Level of description

fonds

Extent and medium

0.88 cubic metres

44 boxes

Context area

Name of creator

(1949-)

Biographical history

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.

Name of creator

(1948-)

Biographical history

Laurence Marks was born in London on 8 December 1948. Educated at Holloway County Grammar School, he met writing partner Maurice Gran at a Jewish youth club in Finsbury Park, North London in the 1960s. In 1973 Marks was working as a journalist for a local paper, the Tottenham Weekly Herald, when he and Gran 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 by 1977 Marks was working as a researcher on ITV’s flagship current affairs programme, ‘This Week,’ as well as writing for The Sunday Times. 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, Marks has also collaborated with Maurice Gran 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, Laurence Marks has also been a Visiting Lecturer at the University of York, running student workshops with Maurice Gran in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television. He is the author of ‘A Fan For All Seasons,’ a diary of his life as a writer and an Arsenal supporter, published in 1999, and in 2006 he made a channel 4 documentary on the 1975 Moorgate Tube Disaster.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran in 2009. A further addition was made to the archive in 2012 and 2016.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Player/Playwrights scriptwriting club competition entries, c.1974-c.1981.

Sketches and monologues written by Marks and Gran for the 'Marti Caine Show,' the 'Billy Dainty Show,' the 'Alfred Marks Show,' and ‘The Frankie Howerd Variety Show,’ c.1970s; programme scripts for ‘The Frankie Howerd Variety Show,’ 1978.

Development notes, scripts, correspondence, and publicity for television productions written by Marks and Gran, including ‘Holding the Fort,’ 1979-c.1984; ‘Shine on Harvey Moon,’ 1980, c.1984, 1994-1995; ‘Roots,’ 1981; ‘Birds of a Feather,’ c.1989-1991, 2014-2015; ‘Wall of Silence,’ 1993; ‘Goodnight Sweetheart,’ 1993-1994, 1999; ‘Mosley,’ 1996; ‘Dirty Work,’ 1999; ‘Believe Nothing,’ 2001-2002; 'Time and Love,' 2006; and Last Weekend/Love Me do, 2014.

Scripts for radio plays written by Marks and Gran, including ‘My Blue Heaven,’ 2006-2007; ‘Dr Freud Will See You Now Mrs Hitler,’ 2007; and ‘Von Ribbentrop’s Watch,’ 2008.

Material relating to theatrical productions by Marks and Gran, including draft scripts, correspondence with Alan Ayckbourn, programmes and first night cards for ‘Playing God,’ 2001-2005; development notes, scripts and publicity for The New Statesman ‘Episode 2006: The Blair B’Stard Project’ stage show, 2005-2006; draft playbook for ‘Goodnight Sweetheart: The Musical,’ 2008; development notes, scripts, song list, scene revisions and publicity for ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats,’ c.2008-2011; scripts for ‘Ephesus Shmephesus – a One Act Play,’ 2011; treatment, storyline, song list and scripts for ‘Save the Last Dance For Me,’ 2011-2012; and storyline and scripts for ‘Birds of a Feather’ live stage show, 2012.

Magazine and newspaper cuttings, c.1975-2005; records, compact audio cassettes, CDs, videotapes, and DVDs of productions and appearances by Marks and Gran.

Material created independently by Laurence Marks, including research, correspondence, press cuttings and reports concerning the Moorgate train disaster, c.1977, manuscript, ‘Moorgate – The Anatomy of a Tragedy,’ c.1976; research and correspondence concerning Ruth Ellis, n.d; draft playscript ‘Diminished Responsibility’ co-authored by Tony Van Den Bergh, 1975; and draft script, ‘Bach would have turned in his grave,’ n.d.

Material created independently by Maurice Gran, including correspondence and book reviews, 1978, c.1996.

Also includes correspondence files, 1978-2014; scripts and story lines for for 'Goodnight Sweetheart' (2016), scripts and storylines for 'Birds of a Feather' (2014-2016); Von Ribbentrop's Watch (2010); Dreamboats and Miniskirts; 'Life and Death', 'Screws' 'The Moon's a Balloon' and associated development material.

Accruals

Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The archive includes betamax and VHS videotapes, vinyl records, compact audio cassettes, compact discs, and DVDs. Access to audiovisual material may be restricted due to technical requirements, please contact the Borthwick Institute for more information.

Finding aids

This material has not yet been catalogued. A box list is available for consultation, please contact the Borthwick Institute for more information.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

There is additional correspondence between Alan Ayckbourn and Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran in the Alan Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 15.05.15. Scope and content and extent and medium updated 27.06.17

Language(s)

Script(s)

Sources

Accession area