Colin Bateman

Profile of the journalist and author

Colin Bateman was born in Bangor, Co Down, in 1962, and educated at Bangor Grammar School. At 17, he secured the post of satirical columnist for the County Down Spectator.

His often caustic social observations of small town Northern Ireland generated strong reader response, and a lawsuit was brought against him by the Boys’ Brigade.

Nevertheless, his weekly column earned him a Northern Ireland Press Award, and for his reports from Uganda in 1990, he received a prestigious journalist’s fellowship to Oxford University. Bateman continued to work at the Spectator as deputy editor until 1996.

Bateman made his literary debut in 1995 with the phenomenally successful detective novel Divorcing Jack. Speaking of the novel’s genesis Bateman recalls: ‘It came to me in the bath. I’d just read a series of detective books which made me realise that instead of trying to write the great classic novel of all time, I should write something quite simple.'

Mordantly witty and richly paranoid, it won the Betty Trask Award for first novels in 1994, and was later adapted for the screen by Bateman himself.

A prolific writer, Bateman has produced a sizeable body of works including Cycle of Violence (1995), Of Wee Sweetie Mice and Men (1996), Empire State (1997), Maid of the Mist (1999), Turbulent Priests (1999), Shooting Sean (2001) and Mohammed Merger (2001). Often featuring journalist and alcoholic Dan Starkey, his novels are packed with irreverent wit and black, if dramatically obvious, humour.

The hugely successful screenplay of Divorcing Jack was followed in 1997 by a short film, Jumpers, for BBC Northern Ireland, and the original feature film, Wild About Harry, in 2001. A children's book, entitled Bring Me the Head of Oliver Plunkett, was published in 2004. Most recently, Bateman created and continues to write for the BBC1 series Murphy’s Law, starring Co Antrim born actor James Nesbitt.

Lynne McMordie