Blind Date

Blind Date was conceived originally by Dave Simpson as a 15-minute play for Manchester’s celebrated new writing initiative JB Shorts – a bi-annual festival of short plays written by established television writers and presented, in a pub basement, by a prolific range of North West based actors and directors. Now approaching its 12th season, JB Shorts is considered “a salient feature on the Manchester theatrical landscape” (Paul Vallely, The Independent) and has twice been nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award. Blind Date writer Dave Simpson and producer Diane Whitley are founder members and ongoing writer/producers of JB Shorts, alongside Peter Kerry, James Quinn, Trevor Suthers, Lindsay Williams and artistic director Roger Haines.

The first Blind Date (JB Shorts 9 – March 2013) enjoyed an overwhelming popular response and a number of respected industry professionals encouraged Dave to develop the idea further. Blind Date 2 (JB Shorts 10 – November 2013) became the first JB sequel and reunited the original creative team of Dave and director Alice Bartlett with actors Susan McArdle and Will Travis. Popular and critical response to the second play exceeded the first, and enthusiasm for the continued development of these two short plays into a full length production has been expressed vocally by theatre colleagues and audiences alike.

Given the response received, the creative team behind Blind Date is convinced of the potential of extending the material into an excellent and very successful full length play. It will have a running time of approximately 90 minutes (excluding interval) and has been written for a cast of four actors, with Susan McArdle and Will Travis remaining as their original characters Angela and Andrew.

Blind Date will preview at Bolton Octagon Studio on November 27th, 28th and 29th, followed by a week in London at the Jermyn Street Theatre on w/c January 25th 2015. We hope to follow this up with a tour in Autumn 2015.

Thanks for your continued support.



Alice Bartlett: Director

Alice trained on Contact Theatre’s Young Directors’ Scheme, and then on the C4 Regional Theatre Young Directors’ Scheme as Resident Assistant Director at West Yorkshire Playhouse. She has since worked in residence as Associate Director at Harrogate Theatre and Basingstoke Haymarket, Artistic Director of RDC Productions at Lichfield Garrick, and enjoyed a long association with Hull Truck. As well as numerous productions for these organisations, other theatre includes Tripwire (Bolton Octagon), Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo & Juliet (Box Clever), Narnia (Bradford Alhambra), The Knotty (Stoke New Vic) and Little Malcolm & His Struggle Against the Eunuchs (Wakefield Theatre Royal). International work includes Macbeth (British Playhouse, Kuala Lumpar). Alice is joint Artistic Director of Theatre Veritae, with whom she has achieved international recognition for her play Not In My Name.

Susan McArdle: Actor

Susan started her career as a teenager in Dave Simpson’s The Prince and the Pauper (Manchester Library). Subsequent theatre includes Once a Catholic and Be My Baby (Oldham Colesium), Up ‘n’ Under (Watermill), Annie and Fanny from Bolton to Rome (Bolton Octagon), Blood Brothers (West End and national tour), and To Kill A Mockingbird and Peter Pan (national tours). TV includes lead roles in Once Upon A Time In The North, Medics, Staying Alive and Early Doors; guest appearances in Queer as Folk, City Central, The Royal, A Touch of Frost, No Angels, The Queen’s Nose and Doctors. Susan also spent a short stint in prison on Emmerdale as Tanya Callard and a longer stretch behind bars as Gail Platt’s long-suffering cellmate, Lyn Fullwood, in Coronation Street. Film credits include Far From The Madding Crowd, Is Harry on the Boat?, Sightseers and Girl Shaped Love Drug.

Dave Simpson: Writer

Dave started his writing career with the BBC and has had in excess of 30 radio productions broadcast. He was Resident Writer for the Manchester Library Theatre for two years and has written several plays for them including The Beauty Game, The Cheekie Chappie (adapted for Radio 4), Soapbox, A Marginal Affair, and several Christmas shows, including The Prince and the Pauper, Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden (national tour), and The Little Princess (adapted for BBC radio). His adaptation of The Railways Children was toured nationally by Birmingham Rep and is constantly performed by repertory theatres and amateur companies. Other stage productions include Single Sex (Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch), Perfect Strangers (Bristol Old Vic), Girl’s Night Out (West End; also toured nationally), and The Naked Truth (several national tours). Television credits include Coronation Street, The Bill, and five years on Emmerdale. Dave’s stage play, Raving Beauties, was recently optioned by film producer, Mark Forstater. He has another film optioned by Jeffrey Taylor of StageScreen Productions, Whatever Love Is. Most recently he has been working with Bill Kenwright on a new musical comedy, The Golden Oldies, for a tour to start in Autumn 2014. Another stage play, Girl’s Night In, has been optioned by Top Notch Productions to also tour in 2014.

Will Travis: Actor

Will left Welsh College of Music and Drama in 1991. He has since worked extensively across all the mediums of entertainment and worked with some fabulous talent including Shane Meadows on This Is England 86 and 88, Kay Mellor on Between the Sheets and The Syndicate, and David Blair on The Accused II. He was also a regular in Where The Heart Is for six series playing the role of Dick Lampard. His many theatre credits include national tours of Romeo & Juliet (Pilot), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Hound of the Baskervilles (Midsommer Actors), and Wind in the Willows and The Scarlet Pimpernel (Foolsgold). Following his involvement with JB Shorts 9 and 10, he is very much looking forward to the further development of Blind Date with Dave Simpson and Alice Bartlett.

Diane Whitley: Producer

Diane is an experienced freelance scriptwriter, showrunner, script editor and producer. Most recently, she has worked as development producer and head writer/showrunner on Series 1 and 2 of the RTS and BAFTA nominated hit gothic teen drama, House of Anubis, produced by Lime Pictures and Studio 100 for Nickelodeon US & UK. She also wrote a feature length special of the show as well as kicking off Series 3. She has been writing too on the brand new CBeebies show Topsy and Tim for independent company, Darrall Macqueen. Her previous work includes writing and producing for Granada Kids on shows such as Girls In Love, The Worst Witch, 24 Seven and Big Meg Little Meg. Theatre includes several JB Shorts and Vegetable, which Diane wrote and produced for the 24-7 festival in Manchester and which was nominated for a MEN Theatre Award. Diane is the Managing Director of Biteback Productions and oversees the company’s development and production output.

Drew Cain: Actor

Drew is from Manchester and is looking forward to returning to Bolton Octagon after his performance as Malcolm in Macbeth in 2012. Other theatre credits include Blithe Spirit (Perth Theatre) and The Seed (Goat and Monkey Theatre), and he also has a vast amount of experience in television, having appeared in both Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, as well as CBBC classic My Parents Are Aliens.

Verity-May Henry: Actor

Verity’s notable TV credits include Hebburn and Drifters and she has featured in a number of shows at the Library Theatre in Manchester from A Doll’s House to Hard Times, as well as being a regular performer at JB Shorts. She is also a very familiar voice in Radio 4 dramas with numerous plays to her name.

James Mason: Lighting Designer