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Comedy is king for Shropshire writer David Tristram

Bridgnorth | News | Published:

He's the creator of comedy character 'Doreen, the lazy cow', now Shropshire writer David Tristram has been crowned the UK's most popular comedy playwright.

Mr Tristram almost fell into writing and only picked up a pen to help out a friend working for an amateur dramatics group.

Thirty years later the playwright has enjoyed unprecedented success with his latest comedy plays and films taking the country by storm.

  • The Opposite Sex, 1983, was David’s first play. It is contemporary farce of marriage and modern relationships.
  • Inspector Drake and the Time Machine, 1986, begins with a professor’s dead body found floating in the library, his daughter has vanished, and everything points to the time machine. Can Inspector Drake solve the crime?
  • Ghost Writer, 2002, begins when a London theatre company decides to stage a new production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. At the last-night party is one Edward Pinfold, a promising young playwright, and husband of the talented actress, Ruby. Tragically, Ruby is found dead in bed. An overdose of naughty pills and booze
  • Going Green, 2014, see the people who have lost faith in the political establishment. The whole country was crying out for a fresh start. Step forward John Brown – future leader of the Green Party.
  • Follow @davidtristram on Twitter, visit him on Facebook and see his YouTube channel.

Such has been the interest in the Highley writer's work that he has become the UK's most popular comedy playwright.

The honour was unveiled by Samuel French Limited of London and New York, the world's biggest agent and publisher of plays, after the company analysed performances of authors across different genres.

The 57-year-old writer, who works from his studio in Coven, Staffordshire, hopes the latest of his 29 published works will produce characters as memorable as Inspector Drake and Doreen, out of Doreen's Story.

"I first dreamed up a comedy whodunnit just to help out my local am-dram group back in 1985," said Mr Tristram.

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"I couldn't have foreseen I'd now be the UK's most popular comedy playwright with 29 published works translated into many languages."

On average, every single night of the year, there are at least two Tristram plays being performed somewhere in the world.

The plays can be seen in areas as diverse as the Vanuatu Islands, Vienna, Czech Republic, Argentina, Turkey, Tanzania and Mexico but they are mainly performed in Britain.

"The surreal 1930s hero of my very first play, Inspector Drake, has since become a cult figure not just on stage but the subject of two indie movies, which I've produced myself, to celebrate the character's 25th anniversary," said Mr Tristram.

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"A few years ago, my work went off on another unexpected tangent when a local actress, Gill Jordan, invited me to her production of one of my Inspector Drake plays at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.

"I saw something special in Gill and I decided to invent a new character just for her."

A few weeks later, their YouTube creation, Doreen's Story, featuring a Black Country woman afflicted with "lazy cow syndrome", went viral with more than a million hits.

The play sparked lively internet debates and at one point even attracted comments from one of George Bush's scriptwriters on a forum in the USA.

The idea was developed into a stage show and last year An Audience With Doreen toured 20 Midlands theatres – and remarkably there was not a single unsold seat.

"Doreen was a social phenomenon" said Mrs Jordan, who lives near Walsall.

"I was literally getting stopped in the street by avid fans of the character."

The appetite for all things Doreen shows no sign of stopping either as the character has developed from local phenomenon to national treasure.

Mr Tristram even penned Doreen's autobiography, From Rug-Rats to Riches, just before Christmas, which is now available in paperback and on Kindle.

Mr Tristram, who was born in Quarry Bank, was educated at Dudley Grammar School and Birmingham University, where he studied English and music. He was a commercial copywriter before turning to comedy.

He claims he writes only comedy because he can't take himself too seriously. and usually tests his new work at small theatres like the one in Bridgnorth near his home in Highley before wider release.

He said his Black Country roots were affectionately enshrined in Doreen's character.

And now, the Tristram and Jordan partnership is back with a brand new one-woman show, Women On Top.

"Fans of Doreen will be delighted to know that Gill is reprising her role as Doreen on stage, but also adding a cast of thousands, spoofing everyone from important historical figures like Margaret Thatcher, Emmeline Pankhurst and Florence Nightingale, to Nigella Lawson and Mary Poppins," he said.

"Women On Top is a satire of modern Britain.

"It's a celebration or probably more of a lampoon of great British institutions.

"It's a great excuse for a grumpy old man like me to rant at the world and for once political correctness is relegated to the dustbin, where it belongs."

The new show also offers the audience a sneak preview of the Doreen movie, which Mr Tristram is hoping to complete later this year.

Mr Tristram said: "We've found that as part of a balanced programme, most amateur dramatic societies like to include at least one rip-roaring comedy or a real crowd-pleaser in their repertoire.

"It's just for such occasions that producers turn to us at Flying Ducks Publications to find comedy, whole-hearted comedy – and nothing but comedy.

"Every play in the series has been thoroughly tested in front of an audience and fine-tuned before publication.

"Flying Ducks has become the perfect choice for the amateur society that's out to do a really professional job of tickling the old funny bone," he added.

The first preview of Women On Top will take place in Shropshire at the Birchmeadow Centre in Broseley on Saturday night, bringing a bit of laughter to Valentine's Day.

The show will include some familiar faces as they delve fearlessly into the controversial worlds of politics, religion, the monarchy, the NHS – and also take an irreverent look at the new opium of the masses, television.

Preview

Gill will play a cast of thousands, including Margaret Thatcher, as well as taking to the stage as Doreen herself.

Tickets for the grand opening costing £10 are available from www.doreen.ticketsource.co.uk

After the special preview show on Valentine's night in Broseley, Women On Top moves to the Swan Theatre in Worcester on February 20 and February 21, and Bridgnorth's Theatre on The Steps on February 27 and February 28.

Further performances in Birmingham, Kidderminster, Lichfield, Solihull and Rugeley will take place in March.

For details about the tour visit www.doreen.tv

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