One Day By David Nicholls Literature Essay

Born in 1966 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. David attended Toynbee Comprehensive school, and attended Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, before going to the University of Bristol in 1985 to study English Literature and Drama.

Having graduated, and keen to pursue a career as an actor, he won a scholarship to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, before returning to London in 1991. There he worked in a number of bars and restaurants before finally earning an Equity card. He worked sporadically as an actor for the next eight years, appearing in plays at Battersea Arts Centre, the Finborough, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Rep. In between jobs he worked as a bookseller at Waterstones, Notting Hill.

A three year stint at the Royal National Theatre followed, understudying and playing small parts in, amongst others, Arcadia, Machinal, Inadmissable Evidence and The Seagull. During this period, he began to read plays and film scripts as a freelance reader, before taking a job at BBC Radio Drama as a script reader/researcher. This led to script-editing jobs at London Weekend Television and Tiger Aspect Productions.

During this period, he began to write, developing an adaptation of Sam Shepard’s stage-play Simpatico with the director Matthew Warchus, an old friend from University. He also wrote his first original script, a situation comedy about frustrated waiters, Waiting, which was later optioned by the BBC.

Simpatico was turned into a feature film in 1999, starring Sharon Stone, Catherine Keener, Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte and Albert Finney. This allowed David to start writing full-time, and his first TV production followed soon afterwards; I Saw You, a one-off romantic-comedy starring Paul Rhys and Fay Ripley, which won best single play at the annual BANFF television festival. Four episodes of Cold Feet followed, and since then David has written for film and TV as well as fiction. He has been twice nominated for BAFTA awards and his first novel, Starter for 10 was featured on the first Richard and Judy Book Club.

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David’s TV credits include an updated version of Much Ado About Nothing, with Damian Lewis and Sarah Parrish (BAFTA nominated – Best Single Play) and the one-off play After Sun, starring Peter Capaldi and Sarah Parrish. An acclaimed adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles followed, starring Gemma Arterton, Eddie Redmayne, Hans Matheson and Jodie Whittaker.

In fiction, he has written three novels, Starter for Ten, The Understudy and One Day. In film, Simpatico was followed by the movie version of Starter for Ten, directed by Tom Vaughan, with James MacAvoy and Rebecca Hall, and an adaptation of Blake Morrison’s memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? directed by Anand Tucker, and starring Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent and Julie Stevenson. The feature film version of One Day, directed by Lone Scherfig, began production in July 2010, with Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall, Jodie Whittaker, Ken Stott and Patricia Clarkson.

At present, David is writing his fourth novel, as well as working on a feature-film version of Dickens’ Great Expectations.

David lives in North London with his partner Hannah and two children.


Two students at the University of Edinburgh -Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew- meet for the first time on the night of their graduation, on 15 July 1988. They had “one really nice night together” but neither of them expects anything more permanent than that, so they became friends and went on with their lives.

“One Day” revisits Emma and Dexter on this day, St Swithin’s Day, over the next 20 years. They meet again and again at the same time and on the same day each year while the friendship goes stronger and they never lose track of each other. But there is one thing they can´t realize: that the love of their lives is right in front of them and they keep on trying to find another person.

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Dexter dates several girls and even got married with one of them, which who he became a father and an husband. On the other hand, Emma tries to have a serious relationship with her boyfriend’s but that is never possible because there is always something that goes wrong.

After all these complicated relationships of both, Dexter marriage goes wrong and the only person that is always there to help him in every moment is Emma. They meet again because Dexter is feeling terrible and they decide that they should finally be together. They start dating and they Emma move in with Dexter. The both of them are finally happy and together, living their lives and at the same time, Dexter raises, with Emma´s help, his beautiful daughter.

The only thing that they want to change in their lives is their home. They already found a nice job and Dexter opened a coffee shop, his first serious job. Emma helped Dexter move on with his life, and they are very well with each other.

But something happened: Emma had an accident and died and Dexter´s life gets ruined. Dexter couldn´t handle that situation so he started to drink again and not taking good care of him. It was an awful period of Dexter´s life but he knew he had a daughter and that he had to take care of her so he tries to rebuild his own life. He moves on and starts to date one of his employees, trying to be happy again.


Emma Morley- Emma, the idealistic, played bass in an “all-girl band . . . variously called Throat, Slaughterhouse Six and Bad Biscuit”. Joined a strident arts collective called Sledgehammer Theatre Cooperative (intent on doing “really good, exciting original political devised work”). Took a job at a Mexican restaurant called Loco Caliente. On the other side, she is an principled socialist and she writes poetry, is an aspiring writer. She was a teacher and did some plays with her students because of her taste for reading.


Dexter Mayhew- Dexter Mayhew is the typical cute boy that loves to party every single day. Loves alcohol, cigarettes and travelling. He worked as a TV presenter on tawdry late-night television shows like “Largin’ It,” a loud lad-fest with rock bands and movie star guests, and cage dancers as backup. Completely in love with Emma, but keeps on chasing other women. Suffers a lot with the pain of lost. He is very confident, very handsome and has a large parental home in the Cotswolds.


“You can live your whole life not realising that what you’re looking for is right

in front of you.”

“Just kidding was exactly what people wrote when they meant every word.”

“when will you stop trying to educate me, I wonder? Never I hope.”

“Loco Caliente means Crazy Hot; Hot because the air-conditioning doesn´t work, crazy because that´s what you´d have to be to eat here.”

“You´re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this. Confidence. Either that or a scented candle.”

“If you have to keep something secret it´s because you shouldn´t be doing it in the first place!”

“Life is failing to imitate art.”

“The true writer, the born writer, will scribble words on scraps of litter, the back of a bus ticket, on the wall of a cell.”

“Friends are like clothes: fine while they lasted but eventually they wore thin or you grew out of them.”

“-The future. My career. It´s not what I expected.

-It never is, is it? The future? That is what makes it so fucking EXCITING!”

Catarina Rodrigues Fernandes 12°F

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