Profile: script executive
Lindsey Alford is a script executive on BBC One’s Doctor Who. Lindsey talks us through a series of examples where she’s had to alter a script because of budgetary or logistical issues.
Script executives, sometimes called script editors, liaise with drama writers and the production team.
They usually begin work with a writer as soon as the script is commissioned. Through successive drafts they help the writer to develop and deliver a story that will work on screen.
"You're kind of a middle man between the writer and production." – Lindsey Alford
Their main responsibility is to ensure the final script is shootable. If a writer has written sequences involving helicopter chases but the budget can’t stretch to that, it is the script executive who must find an alternative that delivers the same narrative points. They must also ensure that the script is editorially compliant, doesn’t feature overly prominent brands or rely on clearing the copyright on works of art of music. In the case of Doctor Who it’s important to make sure that the show’s young audience aren’t tempted to copy dangerous behaviour, so scripts may have to be altered to reduce this likelihood.
Lindsey talks us through a series of examples where she’s had to alter a script because of budgetary or logistical issues. When filming The Planet of the Dead episode in Dubai, a shipping container was dropped onto the double decker bus that was their main set. This left an enormous dent in the bus, and no option of shipping another one out. Lindsey and the writer instead adapted the script to use the damage to the bus as illustrative of the enormous dangers that Rose, the Doctor and their companions were facing. This kind of problem solving and the fact that she’s paid to make up stories, is what appeals to Lindsey about the job.