Today’s Women Behind the Scenes spotlight is shone on English screenwriter and playwright Heidi Thomas, who is the writer and executive producer of the PBS mini-series Call the Midwife, based on the trilogy of books by Jennifer Worth, that is now in its second season.
Heidi studied English at Liverpool University and then went on to gained national attention when a play she wrote called Shamrocks And Crocodiles won the John Whiting Award (an annual award given out to a British writer) in the late 1980’s. Two years later her play called Indigo was performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Among her other theatrical work includes the plays Some Singing Blood, an adaptation of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea and The House of Special Purpose.
In 1987, she got her first big break in TV writing on the British satirical comedy called Screenplay. In the 1990’s, she worked as a writer for the TV series Frank Stubbs Promotes, Soldier Soldier, The Lifeboat, Doctor Finlay and Kiss and Tell.
At the turn of the century, she wrote the screenplay for TV movie Madame Bovary that starred Frances O’Connor (Timeline)and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey). Three years later she wrote the screenplay for the feature film I Capture the Castle that included cast members Rose Bryne (Damages), Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Romola Garai (The Hour), Marc Blucas (Necessary Roughness), Henry Thomas (E.T.) and Henry Cavill (the upcoming box office film The Man of Steel).
It was four years later that she created, wrote and executive produced the eight-episode BBC period drama Lilies; and that same year she wrote the screenplay and was executive producer of the film adaptation of the Noel Streatfeild novel Ballet Shoes that starred Emma Watson (just before her years in the Harry Potter franchise) and Emilia Fox (from the popular BBC series Merlin). She followed those productions with the BBC mini-series Cranford that starred legendary actresses Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton as well as actor Jim Carter (of Downton Abbey fame).
Before bringing Call the Midwife to television over the last two TV season, Heidi was the writer and executive producer on the revival of the classic British TV series Upstairs, Downstairs from 2010 to 2012.
Among the awards Heidi has won during her career include the Best Writer award at the UK Royal Television Society in 2008 as well as the Best Writer award at the UK Broadcasting Press Guild Award that same year for her work on Cranford, Ballet Shoes and Lilies. She received a nomination for two BAFTA TV Awards for Cranford as well as a Primetime Emmy for Upstairs, Downstairs.
Heidi is married to actor Stephen McGann, who plays Dr. Turner in Call the Midwife and fans of her work can follow her on Twitter @HeidiThomasMcGs.