WGBH Drama Club has covered a lot of actors and actresses over time, but today marks the first time we’re taking a deeper look at the creator of a show — and damn, what a creator to start with! There is no better phrase with which to characterize Sally Wainwright than #GOALS; this prolific creator excels in both the creativity and drive departments. Besides the delightful Last Tango in Halifax, now streaming on WGBH Passport, Wainwright was also the creator behind Happy Valley, Scott & Bailey, Walk Invisible, and Gentleman Jack among many other amazing series (many of them personal favorites). And if that wasn’t enough? She’s also licensed to drive buses in London. Wanna know more? Let’s dive in!

1. She started writing early.
Wainwright’s first memories of writing were when she was nine-years-old, and started plunking out dialogue on her family's typewriter. Wainwright remembers wanting to write for the iconic British Soap Coronation Street, which could explain why Anne Reid, who starred on the series for close to 10 years, was her first choice to play Last Tango’s Celia.

2. Teenage influences.
As a teen, Wainwright attended a performance of Julius Caesar, and while she admits she had “no clue” what was going on, she was hooked on the idea; she began ordering plays to read and learn from. A particular favorite was Barrie Keeffe, a socio-political playwright and screenwriter, known for his film The Long Good Friday.

3. But it didn’t stop there.
Though Wainwright went to college to read for History and English, she talked her advisors into allowing her to write a play as her dissertation. It earned Wainwright her degree, wound up having a short run at the Edinburgh Festival… and most importantly, looped her an agent.

4. There’s no straight line to the top.
Moving to London to start looking for work as a writer, Wainwright needed a job to keep her afloat — and signing on as a bus driver seemed like the perfect solution. Her theory? Driving would give her more energy to be creative than your run-of the mill desk job. In practice, she says, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Two Couples, stand in an orchard. The women look off into the distance as the men glare at each other.
Courtesy of BBC

5. Success comes calling.
While Wainwright got her first writing gig on the iconic radio drama The Archers, it was four years later that her childhood dream came true, and she was recruited to write for Coronation Street.

6. ...And it keeps calling.
While she was at Coronation Street, Wainwright’s mentor, Kay Mellor (writer of The Syndicate, In the Club) gave her some important advice: don’t stick around for longer than five years, or you’ll stay forever. Wainwright took the advice seriously, and at exactly the five-year mark, she departed — to head up her first show-running project, At Home with the Braithwaites.

7. She’s a declared feminist.
Though she once thought of herself as post-feminist, believing that all men and women were equal, she says that she steadily became a feminist after entering the work force. “When people… talk about me writing for women, or strong female characters — it’s made me realise how badly women have been served in the past. I just invented characters I wanted to read about, blissfully unaware that I was doing a feminist thing.”

8. Inspiration comes from everywhere.
Wainwright tends to write series that are personal, but nothing to date has been so intimate as Last Tango in Halifax. Based on her mother’s second marriage, she calls it the most personal thing she’s ever written.

9. It’s not her only script that hits close to home.
Gentleman Jack is the series that Wainwright feels she was sent to this planet to create. As a child, she was enamored with Shibden Hall, which she and her family frequently visited on the weekends. She didn’t quite understand the odd pull the house had on her until she learned about Anne Lister, and discovered it had once been the diarist’s home. Wainwright has said that being able to create a series on Lister, and on such a large scale, has felt like the peak of her career.

10. ...And her home has recognized that.
Though she may have hated growing up in Huddersfield, Wainwright's opinions on the region have changed as she’s aged — leading to many of her series being set in the area. Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley and Gentleman Jack have all take place around Calderdale County, and the county has noticed. This year, the Calderdale Council awarded her their highest honor, making her a Freewoman of the Borough of Calderdale.

Watch Last Tango in Halifax today on WGBH Passport. And keep an eye on WGBX 44 for Wainwright’s other series Scott and Bailey and Happy Valley!