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Attwood, David (1952-)


Main image of Attwood, David (1952-)

David Attwood was born in Sheffield on 28 August 1952. After working in television as production assistant on Alan Bleasdale's The Black Stuff (BBC, tx. 2/1/1980) and The Muscle Market (BBC, tx. 13/1/1981), he graduated to production manager on Boys from the Blackstuff (BBC, 1982). He took the BBC directors' course in 1984 and quickly progressed to directing feature-length television projects. All Together Now (BBC, tx. 9/7/1986), like Mark Herman's Brassed Off ten years later, is a comedy set around a brass band; Airbase (BBC, tx. 1/3/1988) aroused controversy for its unflattering portrayal of life on an American airbase in Britain; and Killing Time (BBC, tx. 9/8/1990) is a dark tale of a killer who befriends a teenager and murders him. He also directed The Real Eddy English (1989), a four-part thriller series for Channel 4 about a young black man investigating his namesake uncle's mysterious death.

It was for Channel 4 that Attwood made his only cinema-released film, Wild West (1992), a quirky comedy-drama about a British-Asian country and western band. The film playfully uses the iconography of this music genre, contrasting it with the urban spaces of Southall. The clash of cultures theme and the hybridity inherent in the band act as a metaphor for ethnicity in late twentieth-century Britain. It was well-received but failed to make the sort of box-office impact of Channel 4's later Asian comedy East is East (d. Damien O'Donnell, 1999).

Attwood returned to television to make a critically-acclaimed adaptation of Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders (1996) for Granada and WGBH Boston. Its success in the US led to him making Shot Through the Heart as a co-production between HBO (tx. 4/10/1998) and the BBC (tx. 31/1/1999). The story of two brothers on different sides during the war in Yugoslavia, it was written by Guy Hibbert, who had written Attwood's earlier BBC film, Saigon Baby (tx. 16/12/1995). Fidel (2002), an epic biographical film about Fidel Castro for American cable television (tx. 27 & 28/1/2002), and an adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles for the BBC (tx. 26/12/2002), confirm that Attwood's career is securely established in television if not in the cinema. May 33rd (BBC, tx. 21/4/2004) an uncompromising social problem play about a woman with multiple personality disorder, showed Attwood and his frequent collaborator Guy Hibbert refreshingly aware of the best traditions of British television drama.

Paul Ward

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