Archive Collection MC - Chaplin (Michael) Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Chaplin (Michael) Archive


  • 1956 - 2015 (Creation)

Level of description

Archive Collection

Extent and medium

80 boxes (15 linear metres)

Context area

Name of creator

(1951 -)

Biographical history

Michael Chaplin was born in 1951 in County Durham to Rene Chaplin and Sid Chaplin; a writer based in North East England. He attended South Weald Infants School in Essex and Sandyford Road Primary School in Newcastle. He later attended Heaton Grammar School in Newcastle where he achieved 10 'O' levels, 3 'A' levels in History, Economics and English, and 1 'S' level in History. In 1970 – 1973 he studied at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he attained a 2.1 BA Honours in History. During this time he also edited the student paper Broadsheet. After graduating, he worked at The Journal in Newcastle as a trainee journalist, and was appointed the district reporter in Gateshead and the Durham, and the Health Correspondent. In 1977, Michael moved to London where he worked in the current affairs and features department at London Weekend Television until 1987. During this time, he worked as a researcher on Credo, The London Weekend Show, Black on Black, and The London Programme. He also worked as a producer-director on The London Programme and South of Watford, a series producer for South of Watford, and an editor of local features for South of Watford, The Making of Modern London, City Safari and Concrete and Clay. Between 1987 and 1989, Michael produced two series of the ITV drama Wish Me Luck, before moving to be the Head of Drama and Arts at Tyne-Tees Television in 1987. During this time, he was the Executive Producer for early Catherine Cookson adaptations. At this time, he was also centrally involved in C3W; an unsuccessful bid for the ITV franchise for Wales and the West Country. He then moved in 1991 to Head of Programmes for BBC Wales where he was responsible for all output in English, across radio and television, network and regional. After leaving BBC Wales in 1994, Michael became a full-writer and producer and since then he has written some 30 plays for Radio 4 including the series Two Pipe Problems and The Ferryhill Philosophers and various single plays like The Song Thief. His work for television includes the series Grafters, Dalziel and Pascoe and Monarch of the Glen and films like Just Henry. His 30-year relationship with Newcastle's Live Theatre encompasses In Blackberry Time (with Alan Plater) based on the life and work of Sid Chaplin, You Couldn't Make It up (with Tom Chaplin) about the travails of being a Newcastle United fan, and A Walk-On Part, based on the diaries of ex-Labour MP Chris Mullin. His prose work includes Come and See – The Beguiling Story of the Tyneside Cinema, and Tyne View which arose out of his time as writer in residence for the Port of Tyne. The book then spawned the musical play Tyne which ran at Live Theatre, the Customs House in South Shields and Newcastle's Theatre Royal. The residency also encompassed the theming of The Word, the new library and resource centre in South Shields, around the town's maritime and trading tradition over 200 years. Michael has served on the boards of Live Theatre and New Writing North and as a trustee of the Tyneside Cinema; as the President of the People's Theatre, Newcastle; President of the Friends of the Robinson Library, Newcastle University; and Vice-President of the Friends of Beamish Museum. He is also a Visiting Professor of Practice in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University. Michael Chaplin was appointed the executor of his father, Sid Chaplin's estate.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Deposited by Michael Chaplin in 2012.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Material relating to Michael Chaplin's education, career and other involvements throughout his life, as well as material relating to his father Sid Chaplin. Predominantly consists of typescripts, notes, outlines, editorial correspondence and publicity material relating to work for the theatre, radio, television, as well as pieces of prose, which Michael Chaplin wrote or produced. Also consists of publications relating to Michael Chaplin's involvement with cultural institutions in Newcastle including The People's Theatre, the Live Theatre and The Literary and Philosophical Society.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Further accruals to this collection are expected.

System of arrangement

The papers have been left in the main in the order received, and although its original order has been retained for the most part, files of the same series have been placed together. MC 1 Education MC 2 London Weekend Television MC 3 Northern Film and Media MC 4 Writing Credits MC 5 Partnerships with cultural institutions MC 6 Sid Chaplin legacy Where appropriate, material has been rearranged by the archivist to reflect its chronological order.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access restrictions apply to parts of this collection in accordance with the United Kingdom's Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000. See individual items for further details on where these restrictions apply. Where restrictions do not apply, access is open to bona fide researchers; appointment in advance and proof of identity required. Please see for further details.

Conditions governing reproduction

Permission to make published use of any material from Newcastle University's Special Collections must be sought in writing from the Special Collections Librarian (email: ) and from the copyright owner if appropriate. The library will assist where possible with the identification of copyright owners, but the responsibility to obtain copyright clearance rests with the user.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Accession area