Tuesday 21 May 2013, 14:06
Working on Frankie has been an utter joy from start to finish. I came on board at the green light stage and Lucy Gannon had already written two brilliant episodes for which we got the commission. We had a really exciting concept for a new returning drama series and a fantastically rich character in Frankie. I couldn’t wait to get started.
The role of the Script Editor is to be an enabler; a bridge between the writer and production. A large part of this is problem solving, finding ways around research or production issues to make it possible to tell the story the writer wants to write. One of my main tasks initially was to conduct in depth research for our stories through my own research and by liaising with relevant advisors and then communicating this to the writers. We recruited an ex-District Nurse as our main advisor and she became an invaluable source to bounce off story ideas and to check medical accuracy in the scripts. After a bit of toing and froing, we always got there in the end. From the start we were committed to create a series that felt immersed in reality without in any way diminishing the dramatic impact of the stories.
A really exciting part of the job is creating...
Monday 20 May 2013, 12:40
Some people have always wondered why a broadcaster would accept stage plays when it has no intention (or even means) of producing them. Once in a blue moon we receive a stage play that would work for radio – such as Mike Bartlett’s Not Talking. But beyond this, the simple answer is – strong stage plays can be a great calling card script that showcases a writer’s talent, ability, and voice.
But why? My own pet theory is that there’s something potentially uninhibited (and uninhibiting) about writing a stage play. Screenplays and radio scripts are formatted for the purposes of preparing and executing production, and some of their requirements are specific to that medium/form alone. But when you write a stage play, you could be writing anything, from extreme naturalism, realistic sets and traditional theatres, to extreme expressionism, non-realist staging and site-specific performance - and everything in between. Read a selection of stage plays from different times/cultures – they can look very, very different from one another
It can be the case that screenplay and radio script formats build immediate walls around a writer’s ideas – and if they are not experienced...
Tuesday 14 May 2013, 11:28
So the readers made a move from comedy to radio drama. ( there’s only so much hilarity you can take in one big chunk.) And we were lucky again (twice in a week, spooky) to have a hugely experienced and knowledgeable BBC colleague – radio drama producer David Hunter - drop by and talk to the readers about how they look at radio scripts and writers for radio. We discussed some very useful headline thoughts:
• Radio scripts should feel easy to read – they should flow, have rhythm, not be too dense or text-heavy – if you’re struggling to read a script then an audience will almost certainly struggle to listen to it
• Producers enjoy seeing a true diversity of worlds, language (as in idiom), tone, style and stories that are representing the whole of the UK as we know it rather than just a little bit
• Stories need to have a contemporaneity about them – even if they are not a contemporary setting, what is it that’s contemporary about the reason for telling the story now, for an audience now? (It’s also very very hard to make ‘period’ pieces come to true engaging, convincing life…)
• Stories need a fresh perspective and you want them to feel in some way ...
Thursday 9 May 2013, 12:18
The avid amongst you will know we are already well and truly stuck into submissions from the latest window, and that we have started out with comedy scripts. Out of the nearly 3000 submissions in total, not far off a third of them are TV and radio comedies – so a big chunk of the work for us that lies ahead. Our team of readers for the comedy chunk - a mix of regulars who can read across forms with those who are comedy-specialists - began the task with a welcome visit from the BBC’s Controller of Comedy Production, Mark Freeland. Mark talked about the kind of shows the various BBC channels...
Wednesday 8 May 2013, 11:49Frank Deasy award
What an exceptional array of writers, what great judges in fact what a brilliant partnership all round. So two wonderful winners: Katie Douglas and Kirstie Swain will be our 2013 Frank Deasy award winners (and apologies too many superlatives). But to be fair Chris Aird and I who interviewed the shortlisted writers were genuinely excited by all of them, their work and their ideas. From the start The Frank Deasy award has been special- one it recognises one of the greatest of television dramatists, and we all felt that we wanted to make sure that the writers who secured this...
Wednesday 8 May 2013, 11:24
I first heard of the Frank Deasy award during one of my regular trawls through the writersroom website. Usually I expect to find a new script or an interesting blog piece has been posted. This time I stumbled across an opportunity that sounded perfect for me.
Though I've lived in London for a while now, I was brought up in Scotland and have always identified myself as a Scottish writer. In the past this hasn't always been an entirely positive thing; people tend to pigeon hole you, think that being from the regions, especially one with such a strong identity, means you can't write for 'mainstream...
Wednesday 8 May 2013, 11:08
I’ve entered quite a few competitions in my time: the 1995 Castlegregory Wheelbarrow Race; “Win a Grand” with Daybreak; and the occasional raffle. Some of them have even been writing competitions: like the one in Primary 5 where we had to hand write The Lord’s Prayer the neatest we could. It was the nineties. Someone wrote “Harold be thy name” instead of “Hallowed” because they thought it meant him off “Neighbours.” I didn’t, so I came second. I received 50p and a sticker and with it, the respect of my peers. (Not really, but I did get a sticker and my Mum was well chuffed...
Tuesday 9 April 2013, 15:19
“Something must be done,” people on stage are saying to people in the audience who are saying it back to them. I’m at a post-show discussion. It follows twelve short plays aiming to depict women in new and interesting ways. The evening’s been organised by Equal Writes as a response to recent research showing that there are twice as many roles for men as women in theatre. Things aren’t any better in film and TV with statistics by the BBC and Cultural Diversity Network highlighting that men also outnumber women 2:1 on screen.
Despite this, lots of people want more and better characters...
Friday 15 March 2013, 16:56
‘Be bold…’ the words of Kate Rowland are at the heart of The Startling Truths of Old World Sparrows.
The idea of children playing adults was central to the pitch. It was a device that would allow me to explore familiar territory afresh. Well, I say familiar territory, but how often do we really hear elderly people talk truthfully about what it’s like to be old, the reality - warts and all?
I wanted to make this drama distinctive, something which couldn’t easily be ignored or forgotten, like so many elderly people are, in our society.
BBC Radio 3: The Startling Truths of Old World...
Monday 11 March 2013, 18:06
Being Eileen is a spin off/sequel to Lapland – a comedy drama about a family escaping to Lapland for Christmas which was broadcast on BBC1 on Christmas Eve 2011. My aim in creating Lapland was to write a Christmas film for BBC1 and I was inspired by the ‘Search for Santa’ holidays which were really taking off at the time.
I never thought of it going any further or having a future life. I just wrote it as a self contained Christmas film. It was Danny Cohen's idea to develop it into a series. He liked the Lapland script and asked if I thought there was any more life in the...