Leeds man who used to deliver skips wins a BAFTA award

A LEEDS man who was fired from his first job collecting rubbish skips, has spoken about his secrets to winning a BAFTA award.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 10:00 am
2019 BAFTA winner Mark Catley, with his awards for writing top TV soaps

Writer and producer Mark Catley today revealed how players at a Leeds golf club are the main inspiration for his plotlines on top TV soaps.

The busy dad urged others wishing to achieve success in TV, theatre and film to work hard and 'demand a piece of the pie' after scooping the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Soap and Continuing Drama, for his work on Eastenders.

He was series consultant and writer and one of a team of four coming up with dramatic storylines for the BBC soap, which has seen a resurgence in popularity, with almost 6 million viewers.

2019 BAFTA winner Mark Catley, with his awards for writing top TV soaps

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Former fishmonger Mark, 48, said: "Working on Eastenders is all consuming and is a continuous hard graft to keep the stories bubbling. I have had rough jobs in the past but making all the stories come together is tough, so winning the BAFTA is a brilliant feeling.

"The awards night in London was a truly great experience."

His recent storyline about knife crime and Shakil's death was one of the episodes which helped to win the award, beating Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Casualty to the top spot.

And it seems that it is no coincidence that Mark is being recognised for his gritty stories, as this is his second BAFTA for scriptwriting. Last year he was part of the team which won Best soap for Casualty, where he was executive series consultant and lead writer.

Mark Catley, second from right at the 2019 BAFTA awards with his trophy for Best Soap and Continuing Drama - Eastenders

He took a few months off writing for Casualty to work on Eastenders, but ended up staying for 18 months.

Mark, who hails from Beeston but now lives in north west Leeds, says finding inspiration for the plots can be tricky: "Of course my family and friends are a constant source, but it’s all about telling stories and passing them on.

"My colleagues at Gotts Park Community Golf Club in Armley are an absolute mine of stories and long may that continue."

The Leeds United fan, who attended Matthew Murray High in Holbeck, often has to work in London adding: "London is the centre of the universe for theatre and TV, I’m bored of fighting it though and just enjoy the place now. I’ve done my bit by refusing to move there."

Writer and producer Mark Catley, at home in Leeds

He is back home as much as possible to spend time with his wife Aisha, their four-year-old daughter Zaha and teenage son Ewan.

Mark had lots of different jobs, which he says have helped towards creating great stories. He added: "I have had all sorts of jobs before I started writing. I was always clever as a kid, but ended up at some rough schools and got a bit way laid.

"Other jobs include the skip hire which I was fired from, building sites, barman, cleaner, waiter and even a fishmonger."

He now teaches others how to write and is a regular lecturer at the Slung Low Community College, in Holbeck.

He added: "My advice to anyone who wants to break into writing drama is that you need to have lots of talent but you also need to be bloody minded and rise above the working class lack of privilege and demand a piece of the pie."


Mark Catley's other TV writing credits include: Call the Midwife series 2 (BBC), My Mad Fat Diary (E4), the Interceptor (BBC), Youngers (E4), Holby City and Doctors (BBC). Original TV pilot for BBC3 'Eggbox', written with Tom Bidwell for Hat-Trick productions.

Stage play writing credits: Sherlock Holmes - the Best Kept Secret (dir. Nikolai Foster), Angus Thongs and even more Snogging (with Louise Rennison), Scuffer, Crap Dad, Sunbeam Terrace (all for West Yorkshire Playhouse)