Stephen left school having flunked his A’levels, suffering from agoraphobia. He became involved in the Everyman Youth Theatre in Liverpool, and followed his three brothers into acting, starring, with them, in the West End hit musical, Yakety Yak.
“I got lots of work, including in the Old Vic.”
Having written TV scripts, Stephen wrote the outline for the TV drama, The Hanging Gale, starring alongside his brothers. He was taking a Masters at Imperial College, when his wife, Heidi Thomas, offered him the role of Dr Turner in Call the Midwife. In its seventh series, two more are guaranteed.
“It’s been a challenge combining the acting with being an author. I’ve had to balance my time carefully.”
Who is Stephen McGann
Date of birth: 1963 in Liverpool.
Education: Cardinal Allen Grammar School, inner city Liverpool. Open University; degree in Computer Science, (taken whilst touring as an actor.) Imperial Collage: Masters in Science Communication.
Home: Converted chapel in Hertfordshire.
Family: Wife Heidi. Son, Dominic, 20, an undergraduate at Manchester University, studying philosophy. “He plays in an Irish traditional band.”
The Day Job: Actor.
In Another Life: “I’d have been an academic, or a fulltime writer. I love being lost in research away from the public eye.”
Favourite Writers: “I’ve recently read Tom Holland, Aldous Huxley, Adam Rutherford, Ed Yong and Erika Wagner.”
Second Book: “I’d like to explore the human side of health again; maybe a study of the antibiotic age, looking at the people involved and what it all means.”
Top Tip: “Don’t be too linear. If you get stuck, go to something else. And the red pen is your friend. Editing always makes writing better.”
The Debut: Flesh and Blood; A history of my Family on Seven Maladies: Simon and Schuster: €14.70 Kindle: €4.61.
This family history and memoir spanning 150 years, told through the various illnesses, moves from The McGann ancestors who lost two children in the Irish famine, through the Liverpool slums, the Titanic, two world wars and Hillsborough, to Stephen and his wife Heidi’s direct medical experiences. Rooted in science, it’s a scintillating narrative.
“The story of social medicine, it covers the time when medicine was always considered, ‘good.’”
The Verdict: A fascinating, accessible family history.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 16th December
© Sue Leonard. 2017