Abi Morgan on embracing catastrophe and rebuilding just about everything in your 50s

Today’s guest is a woman I’ve admired for the longest time: stage and screenwriter Abi Morgan. Throughout her thirty year career Abi has written some of our most memorable drama: Shame, Sex Traffic, The Queen, Iron Lady, The Hour (for which she won an Emmy), Suffragette and, most recently, the BBCone hit, The Split. In her work, female characters took centre stage long before that became the fashionable thing to do.

But now, Abi has been forced to take centre stage herself. Four years ago, she returned home one lunchtime to find her partner of 20 years, Jakob, collapsed on the bathroom floor. It was the start of a sequence of events that would upend their family forever. And it’s the subject of perhaps the most extraordinary memoir I have ever read - This is Not a Pity memoir. And it isn’t. It’s about love, trauma and ultimately - weirdly! - about hope.

Abi joined me to talk candidly about the cataclysmic impact of Jake’s illness, the long - and ongoing - journey to rebuild their family and how, in the midst of all that, she coped with her own breast cancer diagnosis. She also told me about being a lone woman in a world of white men in leather jackets, budging up to make room at the table and why she’s done with being “user-friendly”.

You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at Bookshop.org, including This Is Not A Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me!

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The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

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