Coronation Street stars have been among those paying tribute to theatre legend David Johnson.
David founded the Oldham Theatre Workshop, which has launched the careers of some of the best-known stars of TV and film.
His fellow tutor Jakki confirmed the news with a Tweet that read: “Sorry for the delay in posting but it’s all very overwhelming.
“Yesterday we lost our founder, figurehead but most of all our friend David. We’re heartbroken. I will endeavour to reply to everyone’s kind messages as soon as I can.”
Stars including Antony Cotton and Kelvin Fletcher have all rushed to pay touching tributes to the influential figure, describing him as a ‘hero’ and ‘the best’.
Antony Cotton said: “Just heard the saddest news. David Johnson who was the director of the phenomena that was Oldham Theatre Workshop, has died.
“He put so many of us on the map, and kick started so many careers, both on stage and off. So many of us owe him so much. I’m absolutely gutted.
“He formed my childhood so profoundly, and in turn – my adult life too. Those years were the best years of my life. Rest in Power David. You were the best.”
Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher wrote: “Singlehandedly the biggest influence on my career and arguably, the reason behind my career. I know I speak for so many. Thank you David Johnson. What a legacy.”
Lisa Riley added: “For all of us whom were taught by David Johnson….today is a very sad day, I know I speak for many of my fellow actors in the industry, we wouldn’t be where we are today without this LEGEND of a man. I owe so much to you David…..you know how much I loved you…
“Heaven is lit today as it welcomes a creative master, who will be missed by us ALL!!! Oldham Theatre Workshop the north’s PROUDEST school.”
Emmerdale’s Lisa Riley has also paid tribute to David Johnson.
Alison King, who plays Carla Connor in the soap, said: “R.I.P my absolute hero! My maker of all things that I am, and where I am today, my teacher, of who I was 27 years ago, years that taught me things about myself I never knew, but have carried with me to this date.
“You were strict and yet the kindest man to me I have ever known. You were intuitive, and insightful, and gave me and so many others I’ve loved and adored working with over the years, the opportunity to shine. You gave me my best friend Emma.
“If it wasn’t for you I would never have had my beautiful daughter Daisy who is filled with love for the arts, a response of your teachings. And so many of us.
“David Johnson. From the day you started a term, with a good haircut and new shiny leather shoes, until the end of term, when they’d be curled up And your hair in a beautiful bouffant!!! Bigger than we all could cope with on a Monday morning.
“You were the sharpest, most aware human being of others creatively, and how to teach them to show it, I have ever known. Thank you so much.”
Joseph Houston, of Hope Mill Theatre, said: “So sad to hear about the passing of David Johnson. Many of us know the incredible work he did for young people across the region. His support for myself & @WilliamWhelton & @hopemilltheatr1 from the start was amazing & we love having @DJohnsonDrama part of our story. RIP david!”
Julie Hesmonhalgh said: “Sending love and condolences to all the Oldham Theatre Workshop gang who owe so much to the inimitable David Johnson. That talent for teaching: a rare and beautiful thing. He must have been so proud of you all xxx”
Featured image: Twitter
TV & Showbiz
BBC to air ‘important and timely’ new Sarah Everard documentary three years on from her death
An “important and timely” new documentary about Sarah Everard is to air on the BBC three years following her death.
The tragic murder of the 33-year-old by serving Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens – who abducted her as she walked home on the evening of 3 March 2021 to the Brixton Hill area from a friend’s house near Clapham Common in London – was, undoubtedly, a watershed moment for the nation.
Her death brought to the forefront the devastating issues within the UK’s police forces, and highlighted the extent of violence against women and girls in our society.
And now, coming up to three years on from the historic event, and with the issue of violence against women and girls having been recently declared a national priority, alongside terrorism and organised crime, the BBC has announced that it will air a new documentary on the case, showcasing how the devastating crime unfolded, and the impact it’s gone on the have.
BBC Factual announces new documentary Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice for @BBCOne and @BBCiPlayer
The hour-long factual programme – which is titled Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice, and will air on both BBC One and iPlayer – will primarily look at the Met Police’s investigation into Sarah’s murder.
The story will be told by those closely-involved in the case from the outset, many of whom will be speaking on camera for the first time, including the Senior Investigating Officer, the Prosecuting Barrister, and Sarah’s local MP.
In the aftermath of the event, the Met was placed into special measures, and a major review of the force found a culture of denial, widespread bullying, discrimination, institutional homophobia, misogyny, and racism – with several other UK police forces also having been forced to confront the culture and behaviour in their own ranks too.
An new documentary about Sarah Everard is to air on the BBC / Credit: Gerry Popplestone | Tim Dennell (via Flickr)
An Independent Inquiry launched by the Home Office is underway too to examine the “unimaginable failures in policing”, and to find out how a tragedy like Sarah’s murder could even happen in the first place.
Hundreds of police officers also continue to face sexual assault allegations in the three years following Sarah’s death, which only proves just how “important and timely” this BBC documentary will be.
The documentary’s production team has been in close contact with Sarah’s parents for the making of this film, and say they hope it will bring “increased focus” to issues of women’s safety, as well as abuse of power by police and others in positions of authority.
The “important and timely” programme will air three years after her death / Credit: Tim Dennell (via Flickr)
Speaking ahead of the documentary airing, Emma Loach, who is the Lead Commissioning Editor for Documentaries at the BBC, commented: “The murder of Sarah Everard sent shock waves across the country and ignited an urgent conversation about police failings and violence against women and girls.
“This is an important and timely film, and we, like Sarah’s family, hope it will contribute to the ongoing dialogue around the issues raised.”
Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice will air on BBC One and iPlayer this year, with the official release dates set to be announced in due course.
Featured Image – Metropolitan Police
TV & Showbiz
Michael J Fox brings viewers to tears with surprise appearance and standing ovation at the BAFTAs
Retired actor turned activist Michael J Fox made a surprise appearance at the BAFTAs on Sunday night, bringing everyone in the audience to their feet and many of those watching on TV to tears as he arrived on stage to present an award.
The 62-year-old Canadian-American is best known for his iconic role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future films and as a child actor before that on the US sitcom, Family Ties, but since retiring as a result of Parkinson’s disease he has gone on to become a huge campaigner for the condition.
Being introduced by fellow performer and the host of 2024 BAFTAs David Tennant as not only a star of the 1980s but having raised over £2 billion for the neurodegenerative disorder through his charitable foundation in his name, he appeared on stage to rapturous cheers before rising from his wheelchair.
Receiving a standing ovation as he made his way to the podium to present the award for Best Film, which went to Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, the surprise moved countless viewers tuning in back home to tears as he delivered a short but touching speech before handing out the familiar bronze trophy.
He also delighted fans when he was pictured walking the red carpet with his wife before the presentation.
Michael J Fox was sadly diagnosed with Parkinson‘s back in 1991 when he was just 29 years old and became one of the first big names in the public eye to begin trying to raise money for the condition, not only revealing it to the world but setting up his self-titled non-profit organisation in the same year.
As it is a progressive disorder that can even cause added complications to shorten a person’s lifespan, the severity of his tremors and loss of motor control has naturally worsened over time, which ultimately caused him to retire from acting in 2021.
However, before then and many years into his diagnosis, he still made brilliant appearances in the likes of medical comedy Scrubs, starred in his own self-titled show and has made several special returning cameos alongside the legendary Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Marty from Back to the Future.
He even enjoyed one of the most wonderful roles in Curb Your Enthusiasm where he tried to make light of his condition to hilarious effect. Simply brilliant.
Most recently, Fox released his own documentary film on Apple TV entitled, STILL, which looks back at his career, what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s disease and the vital work he has done through his charitable foundation to improve treatment and help find a cure.
It was nominated for numerous different awards of its own and won the Outstanding Picture, Director and Editing Awards at the Emmys in 2023. So well deserved — you should seriously watch it.
As for his speech before handing out this year’s BAFTA for Best Film himself, he said: “No matter who you are or where you’re from, films can bring us together. There’s a reason why they say movies are magic because they can change your day. It can change your outlook. Sometimes it can even change your life.”
The moment has been watched millions of times online already, leaving “not a dry eye in the house” and social media labelling him everything from an “inspiration” and “every bit the hero I remember him to be“, to being simply dubbed an “absolute legend”. We couldn’t agree anymore.
Michael J Fox made a very moving, surprise appearance at the Baftas…
..presenting the Best Film Award.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the 1990’s.