Michael Voysey Foundation

Playwright and Writer for TV and Radio

A Biography

Michael Voysey was born in Grimsby, and was the eldest of six children. He was a bright and gifted pupil, and his ambition even then was to go to Drama School.   Soon after leaving school at the age of eighteen, he joined P&O training to become a purser.

That was in the days of the bigger liners long before air travel became the norm . This gave Michael the opportunity to see the world, including, Australia, Japan, China and India. It was on such trip in September 1939 that England declared war on Germany that marked the beginning of the Second World War. His ship was docked in Bombay at the time, knowing that conscription was inevitable he chose to join the Indian Army. He served in India for the whole of the war period, eventually rising to the rank of Major.  He was not able to return to England until 1946. His army duties included training soldiers and mules for combat in the Burmese Jungle. He later became and army educational officer, and in the process himself learnt to speak fluent URDU.

His love of the theatre began when his grandmother, an avid theatre goer used to take him on her regular visits to the theatre.  He often described how the usherettes used to perch him on the window ledge in the auditorium so that he could see the stage.

His love of the theatre soon became  known to his army colleagues, and large inevitably he became involved in army theatre life.  It was here that he wrote a play about life in a stately home between the family and their servants.  The play was called Upstairs Downstairs and may have inspired the series which later produced for British Television.

Leaving the army in 1946 he went to Drama School, and at the same time, ventured into writing plays for the theatre.  His first job with the BBC was reading scripts, that ‘would be’ authors submitted for consideration.  At the same time Michael Voysey’s  play ‘The Dance Dress’   was to become his first television play and caused something of a stir depicting the struggle that an East End lad with few prospects had in trying to woo his girlfriend.

He remained under contract with the BBC for some years, and was one of a team that pioneered the development of the BBC Drama Department.  Many of early adaptations of the classics were the work of Michael Voysey.  With original plays, adaptations and series he had over one hundred plays on Television.

Michael died suddenly in 1984 in Colchester.

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