James Graham


James Graham joined Paines Plough as our Patron in 2024, as part of our 50th birthday celebrations.

His recent work includes the play Dear England, commissioned by the National Theatre, about Gareth Southgate’s transformation of the national team. After a sold out run at the National in 2023 the play transferred to the West End and has played to more than 200,000 people so far.

James’s TV drama Sherwood – set in the Red Wall community of Ashfield where he is from – aired on BBC One in 2022 to five star reviews. It won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Drama, and won 2 BAFTAS.

Other TV includes Quiz (ITV and AMC) in 2020, directed by Stephen Frears, which was one of the most watched UK television dramas of the year. And Brexit: An Uncivil War, broadcast on Channel 4 and HBO. It starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie, and a BAFTA for Single Drama.

James’s breakout play This House – also at the National Theatre – opening in the smaller Cottesloe Theatre in September 2012 before transferring to the Olivier in 2013 where it enjoyed a sell-out run. It garnered a huge amount of interest and admiration from current and former MPs for his rendition of life in the House of Commons in the 1970s hung parliament. The play went on to have an Olivier-nominated sell-out revival in the West End in 2017 and it was chosen by popular vote as the best play of the 2010’s for the major theatre publisher Methuen.

Other theatre work includes – Boys From the Blackstuff (Liverpool Royal Court, 2023) – adapted from Alan Bleasdale’s seminal television drama; Best of Enemies (Young Vic, 2022) – about the political debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr., winner of the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award. James’ new musical, Tammy Faye, written with Elton John (original music) and Jake Shears (lyrics) opened at the Almeida in 2022 and will transfer to Broadway in Autumn this year.

He received an OBE in 2020 for ‘services to drama and young people’.