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Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Television scriptwriter
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Television scriptwriter
Countries United Kingdom
Occupations Screenwriter Writer Novelist Playwright Literary critic Actor Author Non-fiction writer Children's writer Educator
Gender male
Birth September 23, 1959 (Rainhill, St. Helens, Merseyside, North West England)
Education Keble College, University of Oxford
Frank Cottrell-Boyce
The details

Frank Cottrell-Boyce (born 23 September 1959) is an English screenwriter, novelist and occasional actor, known for his children's fiction and for his collaborations with film director Danny Boyle. He has achieved fame as the writer for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony and for sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, a children's classic by Ian Fleming.

Cottrell-Boyce has won two major British awards for children's books, the 2004 Carnegie Medal for Millions, which originated as a film script, and the 2012 Guardian Prize for The Unforgotten Coat, which was commissioned by a charity.

Personal life

Cottrell-Boyce was born in 1959 Liverpool to a Catholic family. He attended nearby St Bartholomew's Primary School and West Park secondary.

He was an undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford and then completed a doctorate in English, also at Oxford University. He wrote criticism for the magazine Living Marxism. As a result, there was supposedly always a copy of the magazine on sale in the newsagent set of long-running British soap Coronation Street, while Cottrell Boyce was on the writing staff of that programme.

He is married and the father of seven children. He is also a patron of the Insight Film Festival, a biennial, interfaith festival held in Manchester, UK, to make positive contributions to understanding, respect and community cohesion.

His favourite foods are fish finger sandwiches, marmite and wine gums


After he met Michael Winterbottom, the two collaborated on Forget About Me. Winterbottom made five further films based on screenplays written by Cottrell Boyce, Butterfly Kiss, Welcome to Sarajevo, The Claim, 24 Hour Party People and Code 46. Their 2005 collaboration, A Cock and Bull Story, is their last according to Cottrell-Boyce, who asked that his contribution be credited to Martin Hardy, a pseudonym. He told Variety, "I just had to move on ... what better way to walk away than by giving Winterbottom a good script for free?"

Other film directors Cottrell-Boyce has worked with include Danny Boyle (Millions), Alex Cox (Revengers Tragedy), Richard Laxton (Grow Your Own) and Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie).

Cottrell-Boyce has been praised by Roger Ebert as one of the few truly inventive modern-day screenwriters. He has spoken against the "three-act structure" and the "hero's journey" formulas, which are often regarded as axiomatic truths in the business.

In addition to original scripts, Cottrell-Boyce has also adapted novels for the screen and written children's fiction. His first novel Millions was based on his own screenplay for the film of the same name; it was published by Macmillan in 2004. Cottrell-Boyce won the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians, recognising it as the year's best children's book published in the U.K. His next novel Framed, he made the shortlist for both the Carnegie and the Whitbread Children's Book Award. He adapted it as a screenplay for a 2009 BBC television film. He made the Carnegie shortlist again for Cosmic (2008). In 2011, he was commissioned to write a sequel to the Ian Fleming children's book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was published in October 2011 as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again In addition to Coronation Street, he wrote many episodes of the soap opera Brookside, as well as its spin-off Damon and Debbie.

He wrote and staged his first original theatre production Proper Clever at the Liverpool Playhouse during the city's European Capital of Culture Year, in 2008. On 19 September 2011, he co-presented the Papal Visit at Hyde Park with TV personality Carol Vorderman. In June 2012, he assumed the position of Professor of Reading (the first such professorship) at Liverpool Hope University.

Cottrell-Boyce was the writer of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, whose storyline he based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. He collaborated with director Danny Boyle and other members of the creative team, including designer Mark Tildesley, in the development of the story and themes, and wrote "short documents that told the story of each segment" to provide context for choreographers, builders and other participants. He also wrote the brochure, the stadium announcements and the media guide for presenter Huw Edwards.

Three months later, Cottrell-Boyce won the 2012 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for The Unforgotten Coat. That story of a crosscultural friendship was inspired by a Mongolian girl he met as a writer visiting her school, whose family was subsequently deported by the British immigration office. It was commissioned by Reader Organisation of Liverpool and 50,000 copies were given away. The Guardian Prize is judged by a panel of British children's writers and recognises the year's best book by an author who has not yet won it. Interviewed by the sponsoring newspaper, Cottrell Boyce told The Guardian that "I'm definitely a children's writer[;] that's what I want to be. I'm always trying to get rid of everything else. ... The movies I'm doing are ones that have been on the blocks for a long time."

Cottrell-Boyce was made an Honorary Doctor of Literature at Edge Hill University on 16 July 2013. In 2014, Cottrell Boyce wrote an episode of Doctor Who, titled "In the Forest of the Night". He also wrote the second episode of the tenth series. In September 2015, Cottrell Boyce held the keynote speech at the Children´s and Young Adult Program of the 15th international literature festival berlin.


  • Millions (2004)
  • Framed (2005)
  • Cosmic (2008)
  • Desirable (2008)
  • The Unforgotten Coat (2011)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again (2011)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time (2012)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon (2013)
  • The Astounding Broccoli Boy (2015)
  • Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth (2016)


  • March 2010 – Desert Island Discs

Writing credits

Production Notes Broadcaster
  • "Double Talk" (1987)
  • "Reconnection" (1987)
  • "Fish" (1989)
  • "Glasses" (1989)
Channel 4
Damon and Debbie
  • Television miniseries (1987)
Channel 4
The Real Eddy English
  • Television miniseries (1989)
Channel 4
Forget About Me
  • Feature film (1990)
In Suspicious Circumstances
  • "An Uncommon Murder" (1992)
  • "Unjust Deserts" (1992)
Crime Story
  • "All Good Friends" (1992)
A Woman's Guide to Adultery
  • "Episode #1.1" (1993)
  • "Episode #1.2" (1993)
  • "Episode #1.3" (1993)
Coronation Street
  • "Episode #1.3207" (1991)
  • "Episode #1.3243" (1991)
  • "Episode #1.3399" (1992)
  • "Episode #1.3801" (1995)
Butterfly Kiss
  • Feature film (1995)
  • Feature film (1996)
New York Crossing
  • Television film (1996)
Captain Star
  • "The Atomic Alarm Clock" (1997)
  • "Day of the Zooties" (1997)
  • "The Worm Turns" (1997)
  • "The Edge of the Universe" (1997)
Welcome to Sarajevo
  • Feature film (1997)
Hilary and Jackie
  • Feature film (1998)
  • Feature film (2000)
The Claim
  • Feature film (2000)
24 Hour Party People
  • Feature film (2002)
Revengers Tragedy
  • Feature film (2002)
Code 46
  • Feature film (2003)
  • Feature film (2004)
A Cock and Bull Story
  • Feature film (2005)
Grow Your Own
  • Feature film (2007)
God on Trial
  • Television film (2008)
  • Television film (2009)
London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony: Isles of Wonder
  • Television film (2012)
The Railway Man
  • Feature film (2013)
Doctor Who
  • "In the Forest of the Night" (2014)
  • "Smile" (2017)
Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Feature film (2017)

Awards and nominations

Year Award Work Category Result Reference
1993 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award Coronation Street TV - Original Drama Serial (with Paul Abbott, Martin Allen, Ken Blakeson, Tom Elliott, Barry Hill, Stephen Mallatratt, Julian Roach, Adele Rose, Patrea Smallacombe, John Stevenson, Peter Whalley, Mark Wadlow and Phil Woods) Won
1999 British Academy Film Awards Hilary and Jackie Best Screenplay - Adapted Nominated
Golden Satellite Award Best Motion Picture Screenplay - Adaption Nominated
2001 British Independent Film Award The Claim Best Screenplay Nominated
2004 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival Code 46 Best Screenplay Won
2005 British Independent Film Award Millions Best Screenplay Won
Humanitas Prize Feature Film Category Nominated
2007 Chlotrudis Awards A Cock and Bull Story Best Adapted Screenplay Won
2014 Australian Film Critics Association Awards The Railway Man Best Screenplay (with Andy Paterson) Nominated
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards Best Script (with Andy Paterson) Won
2015 Australian Film Institute Award Best Adapted Screenplay (with Andy Paterson) Won


  • 2004: Buch des Monats des Instituts für Jugendliteratur/Book of the Month by the Institute for Youth Literature (Germany), Millions
  • 2004: Carnegie Medal, Millions
  • 2004: Luchs des Jahres (Germany), Millions
  • 2004: Eule des Monats (Germany), Millions
  • 2005: Branford Boase Award, shortlist, Millions
  • 2005: Carnegie Medal, shortlist, Framed
  • 2006: Die besten 7 (Germany), Framed
  • 2008: Guardian Prize, shortlist, Cosmic
  • 2009: Carnegie Medal, shortlist, Cosmic
  • 2011: Gelett Burgess Children's Book Award, Honors, Cosmic
  • 2011: Costa Book Awards, shortlist, The Unforgotten Coat
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