RIP Michael Jenkins

Pic: Ben Gannon (left) and Michael Jenkins (right) at Montreal Film Festival on 31 August 1993. Credit: Brian Abel

We’re sad to announce that Michael Jenkins, the co-creator of Heartbreak High, has died in Sydney aged 77, following a long illness.

Along with Ben Gannon, he created the Heartbreak High series in 1993, after the success of The Heartbreak Kid film that year that he helped to develop from stage to screen. The film won him a “Best Screenplay” award at the 1993 Montreal World Film Festival.

On Heartbreak High he would work as executive producer and director. The show ran from 1994-99 and lasted 210 episodes. He left after episode 50 and went on to Wildside where he worked as director, again teaming up with Ben Gannon, the show running from 1998-99.

Born on July 7, 1946, Michael started writing and directing for TV in the late 1960s, working in both roles on the soap opera Bellbird.

But before Heartbreak High, he was perhaps best known for directing the outstanding ABC/BBC mini-series The Leaving of Liverpool in 1992 and for creating the crime drama Scales of Justice. He also directed the 1970s soap opera Certain Women, the films Emerald City and Sweet Talker (on which he worked with Ben Gannon as producer) and the acclaimed mini-series The Dirtwater Dynasty. He served as writer on the award-winning Careful, He Might Hear You, and western action-adventure Robbery Under Arms starring Sam Neill. These are just some of his long list of credits.

Following Wildside, he went on to create and direct a number of critically-acclaimed crime drama series including Young LionsBlue Murder and the 2017 sequel Blue Murder: Killer Cop.

However his final credit was on the new series of Heartbreak High, that was developed for Netflix, where he is credited as a producer, having being consulted on the scripts.

He lived most of his retirement in Tasmania with his partner Amanda, in a property called “Trial Bay House”, that won the Robin Boyd Award for best residential house in Australia in 2010. He sold the house just a few months ago and was living in Warriewood, which coincidentally is where the later years of Heartbreak High were filmed, in Sydney so he could be nearer family.

We would like to send our condolences to all of his family and friends at this sad time.

Michael Jenkins – July 7, 1946 – March 4, 2024.