Extraordinary People of Hornsea
A Prolific Writer
Marvin Close moved to Cliff Road in Hornsea with his parents and two brothers at the age of eight. He enjoyed a happy childhood here and did well at school which led to a degree in Educational Studies and English at Lancaster University, followed by two years of postgraduate research into post war educational history at Leeds University. From there he has carved out a highly successful career in writing.
Beginning as a journalist on The Sheffield Star evening newspaper, his talent was soon recognised as he became a dramatist and scriptwriter for British television, writing over 70 episodes of EMMERDALE, scripting episodes for TRACEY BEAKER, DOCTORS, 24/7 and THREE SEVEN ELEVEN, and story lining over 200 CORONATION STREET shows. He also worked as Script Consultant on Nickelodeon children’s TV series, HOUSE OF ANUBIS.
Marvin enjoyed mixing with the stars on the soaps, who he says ‘were almost without exception, scrupulously professional and great to work with’, as well as the camaraderie with his fellow script writers. The down side was that the work took complete control of his life and he often found himself working through the night to rewrite scripts and meet deadlines. After 8 years Marvin decided there were too many other things he wanted to do and took the brave decision to leave behind a healthy salary to embark on other projects.
During a spell as writer-in-residence at Manchester’s Library Theatre, Marvin’s stage plays included the award-winning comedy DOROTHY PARKER’S DEAD; the story of The Goons, `CRAZY PEOPLE’(co-written with John Chambers); an investigation of modern work, `WORKING’; a homage to Oliver Hardy, `TON OF JOLLITY’; and a political history of Hull dockers, `NO SURRENDER!’
For BBC Radio Four, he co-wrote two series of the comedy, `ARNOLD BROWN AND COMPANY’; and co-created and wrote two series of the nostalgia comedy series, `WHERE WERE YOU?’
Marvin delivered numerous writing workshops and lectures at universities, colleges and arts festivals, tutored for the Arvon Foundation and worked extensively as a writer for the Arts Council. From 2002 to 2007 Marvin was a part-time tutor and lecturer on Leeds Metropolitan University’s MA in Screenwriting and he worked closely with the then Course Director Alby James, to develop new ideas and directions for the course.
By this time Marvin and his wife Sheila- a teacher – had four children and both felt that the area of Manchester where they lived was not the ideal place for them to grow up. It was Sheila who suggested they move back to Marvin’s home town and, after finding a house back on Cliff Road, they have never looked back. From his study on the top floor, always accompanied by Radio 4 or music Marvin has gone on to even greater feats.
In 2010, Marvin worked as writer-in-residence at Tweendykes Special School in Hull, England, helping children with autism and learning difficulties improve their communication skills. Marvin wrote and produced a BBC documentary short called `Invisible Eddie’, about his son’s experience of growing up with autism.
For BBC Radio, he has written and co-produced two recent documentaries, Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus – the bizarre true story of how the Pythons ended up making two TV Specials in Bavaria – in German, a language that none of them could speak. And Your Starter For Ten – a one hour history of 50 years of University Challenge.
As a lifelong Bradford City fan, Marvin’s love of football has helped him to become the author of several books:
More than just a Game: Football vs Apartheid’
Currently on release worldwide, published by Harper Collins. Co-written with Professor Chuck Korr, it is the true story of how the political prisoners on South Africa’s infamous Robben Island turned football into an active force in their struggle for freedom. Despite torture, regular beatings and backbreaking labour, the men defied all odds and played organized league football in one of the most brutal hellholes on earth for over 20 years. It was Book of the Week in The Independent On Sunday and The Irish Times, the subject of a documentary made by ESPN in the United States, and a half hour long BBC Radio 4 programme in the UK. More Than Just A Game is currently out in Japanese, Korean, Italian, Czech and Dutch translations, plus editions in Canada, South Africa and Australasia – and now the USA in paperback.
Due out in August is a biography of former England Women’s football coach – Hope Powell. Marvin is also working on a new women’s football book for FIFA, due for release worldwide in 2017.
As well as all of this Marvin is proud to have been a governor of Hornsea School for 10 years and often runs workshops in the local schools to encourage creative writing. He is very excited to be a writer-in-residence at Leven Primary School in East Yorkshire, and with Year 4 students, is making a short drama film about life in the school.
Marvin’s enthusiasm and commitment to encouraging our young people to take up writing is testimony to the great love of his work. However he does point out that being a writer requires great discipline and dedication. There are always deadlines to be met and Marvin has deliberately developed a habit of writing every day – even Christmas day! This is probably as important a factor in his astonishing success as is his amazing talent.