BBC confirms McGovern is right up its street

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The Independent Online

The BBC has reinforced the reputation of Jimmy McGovern as one of Britain's most talented writers by recommissioning the hit drama series The Street halfway through its current run.

McGovern, creator of the crime series Cracker, has built a reputation for handling gritty social themes, and his latest work proved a hit with viewers and critics. Now a second six-part series of the drama, which depicts life in a fictional northern city and features a cast including Jane Horrocks, Sue Johnston, Jim Broadbent and Timothy Spall, will be made by ITV Productions for the BBC.

John Yorke, the BBC joint head of independent drama, said of the second series: "It's incredibly reassuring that in this day and age there's still an appetite for single plays and for voices as uncompromising as Jimmy McGovern's. The fact that The Street has found a mass audience and touched a chord with so many people is true testament to Jimmy's talent." More than five million viewers watched the first episode on BBC1 last month.

McGovernstarted his career working on the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside in 1982, and created the drama serial Cracker, about the work of a criminal psychologist played by Robbie Coltrane. Made by Granada Television and screened on ITV, the series was a critical and popular success, winning awards and making McGovern one of the industry's most sought-after writers.

Since Cracker, his work has included the BBC1 drama The Lakes (1997-99); ITV's Hillsborough (1997), a dramatised reconstruction of the Hillsborough stadium disaster; and Sunday (2002) for Channel 4, a drama based on Bloody Sunday.

The Street has been warmly received by critics. "The acting throughout has been exemplary," saidThe Times. The Daily Mirror found it "poignant, funny and wonderful". McGovern said The Street lifts the lid on "the extraordinary lives of ordinary people from the backstreets. Behind every door in every street there's a story waiting to be told."

The series, which focuses on a different house each week, tells stories with universal appeal, exploring the darker side of human nature, but never losing sight of his characters' humanity. The characters include a husband and wife falling in love again, 40 years on; an unexpected friendship that turns the life of a taxi driver upside-down; and two sisters, long at war, drawn together again by a marriage breakdown.

Sita Williams, executive producer, said: "What is exciting about The Street is not only Jimmy McGovern's writing, but his work with new writers who bring their raw talent to project. It is also testimony to Jimmy's writing that The Street will continue to attract the best actors in British drama today."

Success stories

Brookside, 1982: The script-writing career of Jimmy McGovern took off when he starting working on the soap Brookside, which dealt with some gritty social issues.

Cracker, 1993: Cracker, the award- winning ITV drama series starring Robbie Coltrane as a criminal psychologist, was a major success.

The Lakes, 1997-99: Nominated for the Royal Television Society's 1997 programme awards. Nominated for the best drama serial at the Bafta awards in 1998.

Hillsborough, 1997: McGovern worked on this ITV reconstruction of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Sunday, 2002: Based on the events of Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972, when British paratroopers killed 14 people in Londonderry after a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march.

Rebekah Curtis