Lecturer is writing own success story

A university academic's debut play is in the running for a top award.

University of Central Lancashire lecturer Gerry Linford in one of six writers who are vying for the £10,000 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize this year.

He was shortlisted for A Prayer to Saint Cajetan. The storyline features an eccentric priest who teams up with an unemployed man to place a series of outlandish bets on the 1978 football World Cup in Argentina.

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This is the writer’s first stage play and said it was inspired by events from his childhood.

Gerry (pictured) said: “I’m delighted to be in the final six of this prestigious writing award and hopefully the play will go on to be a success regardless of whether it wins or not, although I’d obviously love it to.”

His previous writing history has seen him pen a number of films including Buddha Boy, for BBC Wales, and What’s The Story, which he also acted in with Darren Day.

The playwrights were selected from more than 140 entries from across the country and the competition searches for the next big comedy play.

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Besides a cheque for £10,000, the winner will have their play considered for production by Liverpool’s Royal Court, while up to two highly commended writers will win £1,500 each.

The winner will be announced on Monday and Judges include actor and comedian Les Dennis, writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, playwrights Amanda Whittington and Paul Allen, and comedian and writer Kate Mulgrew, who won the inaugural prize in 2015.

Kevin Fearon, Royal Court executive producer, said: “The standard was very high this year and the final judging session was both difficult and enjoyable because of that.

“We’re looking forward to meeting the winner of this year’s prize so we can work together to bring the play to the stage.”