Sir Alan William Parker was born into a working class family in North London. He started out as a copywriter for advertising agencies in the 1960s and 1970s and later began to write his own television commercial scripts, and directed many award winning commercials. A Midnight Express (1978) is his breakthrough film. It was a gritty film set in a Turkish prison, which was lauded by critics and which ended up earning Parker a number of Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture. He was later nominated for Best Director for Mississippi Burning (1988). He has directed a number of one-off musicals including Bugsy Malone (1976), Fame (1980), Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), The Commitments (1991) and Evita (1996).