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"If you're going to write you should write the truth as you see it. 

What I write is not everybody's cup of tea, but it's my truth. 

I know about racism, for example, because I've been there, I've felt it in the past. 

And if I've felt some of those things, then millions of people have. 

I try to write about people, warts and all." - Jimmy McGovern


Jimmy McGovern is without doubt one of the most important TV and film screenwriters to have emerged from the UK over the past 20 years. Cracker is still probably one of the most accomplished pieces of work that he has done when you consider the scale of the series, the depth of characters and the influence it has since had on the crime/police drama genre. However, it obviously pales into insignificance when compared to his more important projects - which included his 1996 dramatisation of the devastating Hillsborough disaster which was simply titled 'Hillsborough' (and which was also the basis for the Cracker story 'To Be A Somebody) and 'Sunday' which dealt with the bloody sunday massacre. His most recent work though was 'Gunpowder, Treason & Plot' which was screened on british television in 2004 (and starred Robert Carlyle) and dealt with the saga of Mary Queen of Scots, James I and the gunpowder plot.  His other works include several years writing for the Channel 4 soap 'Brookside', 'The Lakes', 'Hearts & Minds' (which also featured Christopher Eccleston in the lead role), 'Dockers', 'Priest', and the feature films 'Heart' and 'Liam'.


His decision to stop writing Cracker after Jimmy Beck's death in 'Brotherly Love', like it did me, probably puzzled many fans of the series. It would have been great if he had finished the third series off, but news that he is now writing the script for a new-one off special due in 2005 is indeed very welcome and more than makes up for that. Often when Cracker isn't written by McGovern it tends to lose it's edge a little, but the character's are also his creations, so therefore Fitz really is never quite the same unless he's speaking McGovern's words. In interviews last year Robbie Coltrane stressed that despite wanting to resume the role of Fitz, he would only do it if McGovern was behind the script. 


You certainly always know when you are watching something penned by McGovern, due to his very particular way of writing and he is of course one of the few television writers brave enough to tackle such issues as racism, rape and the Hillsborough disaster. He somehow manages to make everything he writes both thought-provoking and challenging, and there certainly isn't enough of that - particularly as far as British television is concerned nowadays. You can learn more about Jimmy McGovern in the Interviews & Articles section. He certainly makes interesting reading with whatever he has to say, whether he's talking about Cracker, his other work or his political views.


For those interested, there are novelisations available through 'Virgin' for each Cracker story within the series based on Jimmy McGovern's original scripts (and of course those stories penned by Ted Whitehead and Paul Abbott). In particular, Jimmy McGovern's 'Mad Woman In The Attic', 'Men Should Weep' and 'Brotherly Love' are considerably different to the final televised versions, and feature many scenes that presumably either got changed or cut from the final scripts. The novels are well worth a read if you are able to get hold of them.




The Unofficial Guide To Cracker 1999-2006