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When the oft-sozzled writer Jeffrey Bernard was commissioned to write his autobiography, he placed a small ad in Private Eye seeking reminiscences from anyone who could remember his whereabouts in the 1970s. I have similar problems with recall. Sadly not because I’ve drunk deep from life’s glass, ordered a refill and drained that too. I just have a poor memory. So for help in writing my ‘about’ page for this website (is there any greater vanity project?), I’ve turned to Wikipedia for help. Much of it, but not all, is accurate. I don’t know how to correct a Wikipedia entry and frankly can’t be arsed, either to find out or do it, so let me put the record straight here. Or straighter anyway:

Mike Bullen

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Michael J. “Mike” Bullen Okay, Wikipedia, let me stop you there. ‘Michael J. “Mike” Bullen’? You make me sound like some pretentious American. Mike Bullen will do. (born 13 January 1960) sadly true is an English screenwriter. I prefer British but we’ll let that pass Bullen please, call me Mike! grew up in the West Midlands of England, attending the Solihull School what’s with the ‘the’? and later Magdalene College, Cambridge.

He left with a degree in history of art and became a radio producer for the BBC World Service. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Rewind! After uni I worked for McCann Erickson advertising in London for a couple of years, jacked that in for a wrong turn into publishing in Balham, left to go back-packing, then decided to pursue a career in radio. I did some freelance reporting down in Brighton then talked my way into a 6 month contract for Radio Netherlands, based in Hilversum, Holland. I stayed for 2½ years, living in Amsterdam. Then I joined the World Service, initially as a producer of current affairs, later as a presenter on Dateline East Asia (current affairs), Outlook (topical magazine) and On Screen (film reviews).

 

Unhappy with the quality of British television targeted at people his age, Bullen took a course in screenwriting and developed a one-off comedy drama for Granada Television. That makes it sound like I was on some kind of crusade. I just fancied trying my hand at writing telly. I wrote a spec script, The Perfect Match, hoping to use this to get an agent. It did and he (thank you, Brian Codd of Roger Hancock) sold it to Andy Harries at Granada TV. It was shown on Sept 6th 1995. (I only remember this cos I’ve got a publicity mug with the date on.) This led to the commissioning of Cold Feet, a multiple-award-winning comedy drama that aired on the ITV network from 1998 to 2003. The series won Bullen the Writer of the Year award at the 2003 British Comedy Awards. He wrote two more series for Granada; Life Begins, which ran for three years, (and starred the wonderful Caroline Quentin and Alexander Armstrong) and All About George, (starring the late, great Rik Mayall) which ran for only one. (cos it wasn’t very good – almost entirely my fault.) His works have been described as being “about the intricacies of interpersonal relationships and what happens when they break down”.[1] Not by me, they haven’t, but it sounds good, so I’ll take it. I also created a show for the BBC, Sunburn, which ran for two series and starred Michelle Collins, who was an absolute blast to work with. Loved her. (Not literally, in case the Daily Mail sniffs a headline.)

Bullen moved with his wife and two children to Australia in 2002. (True dat.) Two years later he directed his first short film, Amorality Tale. (This short forms the basis for my debut novel, Trust, more about which below.) He co-created the Australian/UK television series Tripping Over in 2006 and (was) the writer and director of the Australian television pilot Make or Break in 2007.(starring Robson Green, who is an absolutely lovely bloke.) He returned to producing work for British television in 2010 with the BBC pilot Reunited, (which deserved a series, in my view!) and moved back to the UK in 2011.

And that’s as far as Wikipedia goes. Clearly, whoever writes this stuff (an unpaid intern?) left, hopefully to go off and do something more useful with their lives. Or just useful. So let me continue their job for them:

The move back to the UK was not a success. The family rebelled, and quickly joined other so-called Ping Pong Poms by moving back to Australia. There, Mike (or Bullen it’s up to you, Wikipedia, it’s your page), disillusioned by his lack of recent success in the TV biz, wrote his first novel, Trust, which comes out in Australia in November, 2015 and will be published in the UK in January 2016.

He is now working again in television, but isn’t supposed to say any more about that at the moment.

Wikipedia goes into far more, excruciating detail about my early career but even I haven’t read it all. However, I must pick up on one glaring error:

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain presented to Bullen the award for New Writer of the Year at their awards ceremony in October 1997.[15]

I don’t think that’s right. As I remember it, I was nominated but the award deservedly went to Ayub Khan Din, writer of the excellent East Is East. I have won a few plaudits along the way though, including a Sony Gold Award for Best Radio Documentary Series in 1991, and Writer of the Year at the UK TV Comedy Awards in 2003. Oh, and Cold Feet was twice nominated for a BAFTA, winning once. That’s enough bigging myself up. I shall stop now.

 

 

‘Trust wasn’t something you could have in degrees; it was all or nothing…’