Mike Leigh is an award-winning screen-writer and playwright who was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1943. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and at Camberwell and Central Art Schools and the London Film School. He gained acting and directing experience with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his first original play, Bleak Moments, evolved from improvisations. His career began as a playwright and theatre director, his stage plays including Smelling A Rat (1989), It's A Great Big Shame, Greek Tragedy, Goose-Pimples (1982), Ecstasy (1989) and Abigail's Party (1979), the latter being revived on its 25th anniversary and nominated for the 2002 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival. Later he began to make films for television, then became involved with feature film production. His television plays, which he wrote and directed, include Nuts in May, Home Sweet Home, and Vera Drake. He is well-known for his films which do not begin with a script, but evolve from actors talking, improvising and creating characters. His multi-award winning films include All or Nothing (2002), Life is Sweet , Secrets and Lies (1997) and Topsy Turvy (1999).