Monday 20 October 2014, 16:40Room to Write
So here I am, somehow, in the BBC, the home of most of the comedy I’ve loved since I was only yay high (imagine I am positioning my hand to indicate a low height, perhaps the height of a twelve-year old or a particularly ashamed man).
I’m one of the people lucky enough to have won a place on the BBC’s Room to Write scheme. Masterminded by Steven Canny and Laura Marks (BBC Comedy), Room to Write is setting out to find and develop the next wave of Scottish comedy writers. Twenty-two of us have made it this far, and as the scheme continues we must kill each other off with a series of traps, betrayals and pithy one-liners until only one survives, who will then rule BBC Comedy from his or her throne of funny skulls.
For an aspiring comedy writer this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You spend so long trying to get the industry to notice you that when they actually welcome you in you find yourself looking over your shoulder to see if it’s all a trap.Room to Write
Each of us is being given the chance to develop an original sitcom script under the BBC’s guidance, with a number of ‘challenges’ along the way to develop our writing muscles - sketches...
Wednesday 15 October 2014, 16:28
Editor's Note: Writers Shadow Schemes are run for all the BBC's Continuing Drama shows - EastEnders, Doctors, Casualty and Holby City. They mirror the show's writing process by developing and producing an episode from which the writer will be assessed for a commission. Training includes workshops, lectures and exercises on storytelling and the show's format together with a formal induction and set tour. There are eight writers on this year's Casualty Shadow Scheme including Olly Perkin who blogs about his experience so far.
The Casualty Writers Shadow Scheme has been a great learning curve about how not to write the show, as well as a really positive guide on what makes the show really sing. Tipped off by my agent that the scheme was approaching again, this year was my second try. After the initial application process of a spec script followed by an interview selection, you pitch a story of the day for Casualty. A final selection is made based on extending those pitches. I’ve previously written for Family Affairs and The Bill, as well as having clocked up nearly 60 episodes for BBC’s Doctors, but it’s exciting to have the chance to work on a bigger canvas. Especially...
Friday 3 October 2014, 16:09
“Yeah, you should definitely be a Copywriter. That’s a great way of meeting loads of people who work in television.”
That’s what I was told four years ago, late one stuffy September evening, in Mexico City by a fellow traveller. “Really?” I replied, wide eyed at the prospect of how simple it was to infiltrate the perceived fortress of the television industry. “Yeah, pretty much every decent television writer starts off as a copywriter”. It seemed a watertight argument.
Fast forward a few months and back on home soil, I’d managed to get myself some regular freelance copywriting work during the days and was balancing this with late shifts in a bar. Six months later, I was tired. Very tired.
Where were all the television producers? Where were the actors? The agents? The BAFTAS? Mexico City guy had led me down the garden path and the creeping vine weeds were closing all around me. Okay, I exaggerate but I did feel like I was heading in a direction I didn’t want to be and I just wasn’t interested in the things I was writing about. Then came the bolt out of the blue:“Have you seen this Liam?” said the lovely Sue (a PR Account Manager who shared the same office...
Tuesday 30 September 2014, 13:39The Secret Art of Script Editing
With long-running series like EastEnders and Coronation Street gracing our screens several times a week, writers have a tough task in keeping the story fresh and maintaining the audience's interest. So what role does the script editor play in the process?
Tuesday 23 September 2014, 14:43
In all my most recent shows – Exile, Talk To Me, The Street and Accused - I have created lead characters that are morally complicated. Lead characters that walk the fine line between good and bad, their behaviour is sometimes appalling, but in the next breath they are charming, funny, likeable. These characters are interesting to me – I don’t do good guys - I like characters that are difficult, characters that tell lies, characters that keep secrets, characters with flaws. So when Jim Poyser and myself came up with the idea for The Driver – a taxi driver who starts driving for a criminal...
Monday 22 September 2014, 12:55
Editor’s note: Marvellous is a new film about the extraordinary real-life story of Neil Baldwin - a man who refused to accept the label of learning difficulties and confounds all expectations. It will be on BBC Two, at 9pm on Thurs 25th.Marvellous, BBC Two: Toby Jones as Neil Baldwin
I was sitting in rolling fields in brilliant sunshine outside Stoke On Trent. An unlikely sentence, I know, but it gets unlikelier. A few yards away the industrious hum of film making could be heard. Sitting next to me was Neil Baldwin. He had an oversized clown’s shoe on his lap which he was signing for...
Friday 19 September 2014, 14:21
Editor's note: Our Girl returns to BBC One on Sunday 21 September 2014 for a five part series. This follows a successful one-off episode broadcast in March 2013 which explored how Molly Dawes (played by Lacey Turner) came to join the army.
Lacey Turner as Molly Dawes
What was your ambition for the series?
I wanted to write a drama about what it was like being a foot soldier in Afghanistan and looking at the issues from their point of view. There’s a big chain of command in the army so I thought it would be really interesting to write about the war from the perspective of a new recruit...
Tuesday 9 September 2014, 13:39
Editor's Note: Matt Charman talks about how he discovered the story behind the creation of Chester Zoo, the responsibilities of writing about real people, his research process and why George Mottershead is his favourite character in the drama.
He also talks about his next project, a currently untitled Cold War thriller, pitching this to Dreamworks and subsequently meeting with and getting notes from the director, no less than Steven Spielberg! The film starts shooting this month in New York and Berlin.
Matt also shares his tips for new writers and his Desert Island DVD choices.
Wednesday 3 September 2014, 12:31
Editor's Note: Katie Hims' recent radio work includes Listening to the Dead, The Martin Beck Killings, King David and Lost Property which won the 2012 Audio Drama Award. Her stage play Billy the Girl was produced by Clean Break at Soho Theatre in 2013.
Katie was the the lead writer for the first series of Radio 4's epic drama about the First World War, Home Front, which began on the 100th anniversary of the start of the war on 4th August 2014 and reflects events which happened exactly 100 years ago in each episode. Producer, Lucy Collingwood, spoke to Katie about the challenges and rewards of...
Thursday 28 August 2014, 11:50
As one of its readers it’s a nice feeling to be able to contribute something to the Writersroom Blog. I hope some of this might be useful just as I hope it’s not too stultifyingly self-indulgent. I thought I might write a bit about my experiences of writing for radio, couched more widely in a bigger picture of my near constant struggle to try to find the right story to tell. What I’m not going to do is write a list of dos and don’ts for radio. Other much smarter people have done that, like this blog.
I’m here because I’ve written a new play that will be broadcast on Radio 3 at...