32 Brinkburn Street

Tuesday 29 March 2011, 12:06

Karen Laws Karen Laws

I pitched the idea for 32 Brinkburn Street in November 2009 as part of a brainstorming session in Newcastle held by the Writersroom. We met Phil Collinson, Hilary Martin and Simon Judd who were interested in daytime drama ideas. I'd just been co-writer in residence for Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival and the theme was the family, so that was very much in the back of my mind, plus I had other family things going on at the time. I wanted to do something where the audience knew more about the family's history than the family did itself. This meant doing something historical but I knew the costs involved might make that a non-starter.

Image from drama series, 32 Brinkburn Street.

Initially I pitched the idea of three generations living in one house over a century but quickly cut it down to two timeframes. Our pitches then went to Liam Keelan, Controller of Daytime in December 2009, but a couple of months later I got an email to say although he'd been really keen on the idea it wasn't going to go any further due to lack of slots and finance.

I was trying to work out how to turn Brinkburn Street into a play when I got a call in March 2010 to say that the idea might have some life after all; a series of programmes were being planned around the census and there was a chance of a tie-in. It was one of those times when luck really plays a part and suddenly there was a chance to move forward. Between April and June we started mapping out a potential series and I started work on the first episode. We chose 1931, not only because it was within living memory but also because in many ways it's our parallel decade historically.

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The first draft went through a lot of changes, partly because we kept discovering things about the characters and partly because the shape of the series was changing as well. A draft of episode one went with the final outline for the series to Liam in August 2010. The show was greenlit in September; by then Alice Nutter had joined us to write two episodes. All five scripts were finally locked off by the 25th October to give the director, Dan Wilson, the chance to shoot the contemporary stuff first and then go on to the period material. We always knew our deadline for transmission had to be census week so time was always going to be an issue. I was thrilled when we got such a strong cast, absolutely delighted. Shooting was finished on 17th December, one year after the initial pitch in Newcastle.

It's wonderful seeing it on the screen; I'm still getting over the surprise of having it commissioned never mind seeing it finished. The past fifteen months have been intense, no doubt about it; sometimes it was fantastic and other times you'd be tearing your hair out, but then, that's what families are all about.

Watch 32 Brinkburn Street at 2.15pm on BBC One from 28th March - 1st April.

Read the script for Episode 1 of 32 Brinkburn Street in the BBC writersroom script archive.

Andrea Hughes, set designer for 32 Brinkburn Street, has written a blog post about her work designing the set for the series on the BBC TV blog.

Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    This drama is absolutely brilliant. Well thought out and leaves me waiting in anticipation to watch the next episode! Brilliant well done Karen :))

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    Comment number 2.

    What a fantastic drama,I was actually scared to watch todays episode as I was convinced that there would be scenes of an illegal Abortion but her mother Grace caught her with her grandmother before this happened,I only wish someone had been there to stop my Mother!
    I never knew my mother as she was butchered by a back street Abortionist when I was only 6mths old,you have portrayed it so well in your writing Karen bringing it to the present day showing that a young girl can now get the pill,you know it was only thanks to David Steel in the 60s and the abortion act that stopped hundreds of women losing their lives in this way,we must never go back to those dark ages.
    Can't wait to find out who is behind the wall!

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    Comment number 3.

    "It's wonderful seeing it on the screen"............ you can say that again!
    I simply adore the series, and want to thank everybody involved. It is a brilliant idea and it works so well on T/V. I hope it catches on and has great viewing figures, for it deserves to run and run........ into the next generation or even look further back than 1931.
    All the best to you ALL.

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    Comment number 4.

    I am really enjoying this series. It is really intriging and at work we are already discussing who the body belongs to. It is a shame that it is not on of an evening

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    Comment number 5.

    Just love watching 32 brinkburn street, so good viewing.

 

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