Jack Rosenthal

Born(1931-09-08)8 September 1931
Cheetham Hill, Manchester, England
Died29 May 2004(2004-05-29) (aged 72)
Barnet, London, England
OccupationScreenwriter, playwright
EducationUniversity of Sheffield
Notable awardsCBE, BAFTA
Catherine Ward
(m. 1964; div. 1966)

(m. 1974)
Children2, including Amy

Jack Morris Rosenthal CBE (8 September 1931 – 29 May 2004) was an English playwright who wrote 129 early episodes of the ITV soap opera Coronation Street and over 150 screenplays, including original TV plays, feature films, and adaptations. A street in Manchester is named after him, appropriately next to a centre of contemporary art, theatre and film that opened in 2015, HOME.[1]


Rosenthal was born in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, into a Jewish family. After studying English Literature at Sheffield University, he carried out his National Service in the Royal Navy. He worked briefly in advertising before joining Granada Television. He earned his first television credit with Granada in 1961, assigned as a writer of episode 31 of Britain's longest-running soap opera, Coronation Street. He became a regular writer for the series[2] and began writing for other series as well. During the 1960s, he contributed material for various television comedy shows including the satirical That Was The Week That Was.[3] At Granada Television, he wrote a spin-off series from Coronation Street for the character Leonard Swindley, played by Arthur Lowe, called Pardon the Expression and created two comedy series The Dustbinmen and The Lovers, the latter starring Richard Beckinsale and Paula Wilcox. In 1976 he also wrote a TV drama for ITV, called Ready When You Are, Mr McGill, which was later remade in 2003.

Rosenthal won three BAFTA awards for Bar Mitzvah Boy (about a Jewish boy's Bar Mitzvah), The Evacuees (based on his own war-time evacuation) and Spend, Spend, Spend (about the football pools winner, Viv Nicholson, directed by John Goldschmidt). He also wrote The Knowledge, a film about London taxi-drivers which has become a classic for cabbies-in-training. He wrote the 1986 television film London's Burning for London Weekend Television, which proved so successful that it was adapted into a television series of the same name, which ran from 1988 until 2002.[4] Rosenthal adapted the novel The Devil's Lieutenant for director John Goldschmidt as a mini-series for Channel 4 and ZDF, and wrote the screenplay of Captain Jack (based on a true story) for producer John Goldschmidt.

In 1983, Rosenthal co-wrote the film Yentl with Barbra Streisand.[5] He also did uncredited work on the screenplay of Chicken Run.

Rosenthal also wrote the book for the musical version of Bar Mitzvah Boy, with music by Jule Styne.[6]

He married actress Maureen Lipman in 1974;[7] they have two grown-up children, writers Amy Rosenthal and Adam Rosenthal. Jack Rosenthal was a Manchester United fan all his life.

Rosenthal was awarded the CBE in 1994.[8]

Death and legacy

Rosenthal died in Barnet, London, aged 72, on 29 May 2004, of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer.

He is buried in Golders Green Jewish Cemetery.

His autobiography, By Jack Rosenthal, was published posthumously and a four-part adaptation by his daughter, titled Jack Rosenthal's Last Act was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2006 starring Maureen Lipman as herself and Stephen Mangan as Jack Rosenthal.

Writing credits





  1. ^ "Jack Rosenthal on Jack Rosenthal Street". HOME.
  2. ^ "Maureen Lipman joining Coronation Street". 3 August 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
  3. ^ "Jack Rosenthal, author and playwright". www.scotsman.com.
  4. ^ News, Manchester Evening (15 February 2007). "Writer Jack Rosenthal dies, 72". Manchester Evening News.
  5. ^ "Yentl (1983) - IMDb" – via www.imdb.com.
  6. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Bar Mitzvah Boy (1976)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
  7. ^ Obituary, BBC, 29 May 2004
  8. ^ "1993 CBE announcements" (PDF). SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 31ST DECEMBER 1993. 1993. Retrieved 16 January 2021.