Pecking Parties

I once worked on a long-running TV series that aged, as these shows are wont to do, from a sparky comedy drama to a bland rural soap.  In the early days I and the other writers on the team tried to keep the show funny and unpredictable and to subvert the expectations of the audience, but as time passed it got harder and harder to do anything original or challenging, and it wasn’t because we ran out of good storylines…

(Digression: I have never got round to keeping track of traffic to this website, but I suspect it has spiked recently, given my association with a new author whose romantic fiction trilogy has recently gone supernova in the USA with no advertising or input of any sort from PR people.  Want some hot gossip and insight?  You’ve come to the wrong place – this is my soapbox, and she has her own. In the manner of a crotchety professor whose lecture hall is full of the curious hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity […] Continue Reading…

Not Getting It In Writing

My agent, the lovely Valerie Hoskins, recently launched the websitewww.vhassociates.co.uk to show off her stable of writers (I’m the niffy old mule at the back… be careful, I bite) and very generously asked me along.  Of course, wherever there shall be more than one writer present, there shall be also bitching and moaning (see war stories below) and I found myself recounting one particular incident that usually I manage to blank out of my mind.

A few years back I was hired to do a rewrite on an episode of new TV series, very close to shooting.  The director – an old film-school friend – had recommended me to the producers as someone who could write quickly to order.  And so I was asked to do Episode Four, I think it was, of a six-episode series.  The producers showed me the existing script and it certainly needed help; the story made no sense and the dialogue was idiotic. Oddly, the first three episodes of the series were very good – well researched and superbly written.  I found myself wondering what had happened to […] Continue Reading…

Breaking and Entering

I was invited onto a seminar in Dublin a while back to talk to Irish writers who wanted to break into British TV.  I was puzzled to be asked, because that’s how I usually think of myself, and when people point out that I already have written quite a bit for UK TV it always takes me by surprise.

So there I was on the podium beside TJ, a distinguished screenwriter who worked his way up from the writers’ stable to become showrunner on a major TV soap.  He was – is, rather – the best sort of producer, for whom only the story and the writing matters. He feels if you get that right everything else will follow, and he’s right, of course. Anyway someone in the audience asked TJ what they should do to get work in UK TV drama, and he replied, ‘Watch everything’.  There was a sort of gasp from the audience.

How could you possibly watch every drama on TV – every cop show, soap, and Dickens adaptation – and still have a life?  And […] Continue Reading…