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White Van Man: The Journey From Head To Screen

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Adrian Poynton Adrian Poynton | 17:59 UK time, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Okay, so this feels weird. After four years work, a silly amount of writing and god knows how many litres of tea, White Van Man is going to be shown on the TV. It doesn't exactly seem real and I'm still not totally convinced it's actually going to happen... and here's why: I had two dreams as a child.
  1. To write a TV comedy series and
  2. To write an episode of Doctor Who.
Apparently, I've just done 50% of that. Yikes.

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It turns out, the idea and all the characters for the show had been in my head for years, I just hadn't realised it at first.

The show, really, is about two things:
  1. Me and my Dad
  2. The place I grew up (Lichfield in Staffordshire).

My Dad (who just so happens to be called Tony and has a little white moustache - just like the Dad in the show) is from a very different generation of people than me. He grew up in a working class household, didn't do great at school and started working at a very early age. He did a lot of manual labour jobs like building, plumbing, painting people's houses etc. You know, the sort of jobs that make you want to say 'Grrrrr' a lot.

Adrian's Desk

Where the magic happens - Adrian's desk

Me on the other hand, I'm a numpty who spends half his time prancing around on stage trying to make people laugh and the other half sitting in front of a computer, having delusions of being some grand storyteller.

I mean, my Dad single-handedly built the extension on my Mum and Dad's house, whereas I got in a huff this morning because we were out of green tea. We're very different people.

One day I started to wonder what it would be like if my Dad couldn't do any of that stuff anymore. Would I have to step up? And boom! Just like that, the idea for White Van Man was born. I'd sort of been living it for years.

Although let's be honest, that 'boom' could well have been the result of me trying to rewire a plug. We may never know.

I also suddenly realised, I'd grown up living in the setting for the show too.

Maplebury sign

Welcome to Maplebury

I grew up in the Midlands, but it doesn't matter if you grew up in the north or the south or wherever, so much of the experiences people seem to have of their hometowns are surprisingly universal. That's why I made up a town name for the show.

To me Maplebury is Lichfield. I know to Will Mellor, it's Stockport. I hope for you, it's where you grew up. Believe me; you might even meet some characters in the show you already know from home. You might even see yourself in there. In which case, if you do - sorry.

That's been the real joy creating this show. Everyone who has read it has seemed to get it. They all just seemed to understand the world because they had, in someway, grown up in it.

Will's Chair

That's the main reason Will always claims he wanted to do the show. His Dad is actually a handyman and he just knew what the show was about. I'd just (to quote Spinal Tap) turned it up to 11. I think we've got some very, very funny (and tender) results.

And that's why it feels strange to be finally putting it out there for everyone to watch. Within four years it went from being some stuff in my head, to being some stuff on a page, to seeing Clive Mantle (who plays Tony) wandering around set with a little white moustache. It still doesn't really seem real.

Maybe that's because it comes from a very personal place. I hope you recognise it.

Now if we could just get Steven Moffat (head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who) to give me a call, I might be able to retire by the time I'm 33.

Adrian Poynton is the writer and creator of new comedy series White Van Man which starts at 10.30pm on Tuesday.

Watch more clips and see photos from White Van Man

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    just tried to watch the latest "comedy" white van man, absolutely painful. turned off after 15 uneventful, joke/pun free minutes. Thanks for providing one tone will mellor with another pile of kak he cannot act and makes a marionette look animated. cheers beeb for nowt

  • Comment number 3.

    I appreciate the personal side being put into the show but I found much of the humour lacking any real intent on being funny.

    The majority of the people chosen to take on the characters were very much out of character and unconvincing. It's a good thing it's only a comedy which does need serious tweaking here and there.

    I can see so much potential simply going to waste.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think its hilerious when people bother themselves to criticise other people's work in comment threads like this. Its all well and good writing a criticism 100 words long but trying to sit down and write your own work worthy of other people's attention is harder and streneous (4 years in this case). Thankfully, Adrian Poynton has come up with a comedy that is filled with as much warth as laughs, in a totally original scenerio. The real funny thing is Adrian is deservedly laughing all the way to the bank now whereas *Sifin* laughing with himself and no one else!

  • Comment number 5.

    One word "brilliant" I cannot remember the last time i have laughed so much at a sitcom, it was like a sledge hammer of jokes and just when you thought it had subsided Wham!! there is another one. But saying that it has a nice father son moment at the end to make you feel like the next day will actually be OK for him and just how much his dad wants him to succeed...
    The characters are well scripted and well cast with not one of them being pointless to the episode or series
    There is a habit in some sitcoms that the way to a quick laugh is something that makes you cringe or say no don't do that, which is something that makes me personally turn over to something else.
    Anyway I am rambling as normal so if you haven't seen it already watch it on catch up!! Can't wait for the next one
    Cheers

  • Comment number 6.

    I disagree with the negative comments. I thought WVM showed a lot of promise. It did seem to be veering towards being a comedy drama but there were just enough laughs to get me to set the freeview recorder for next weeks episode.

    It's far better than Friday Night Dinner, another 'not quite a sitcom' sitcom.

    I liked it.

  • Comment number 7.

    I enjoyed it , thought it funny , fast , loved the way everything that happened tied in with something that went before so that nothing was wasted. It surprised all the time ie. the clan website idea or even the web contact really being the mother using her daughters name. The first episode was a bit manic and I liked that. The second slowed a fraction but still fast ...except possibly for the handyman meeting which was a great idea but maybe drawn out a bit. I wonder where you get your ideas, are they mostly stuff you have seen or been told or are you dreaming them up. Whatever... I am looking forward to next Tuesday. By the way I am native to a seaside town in Co Dublin, so you dont need to be brought up UK side to appreciate the humour! It must be universal...ish

    Big Fan anyhow!!

  • Comment number 8.

    All in all, a great first episode. Hit's home, because I am a lifelong handyman, and actually drove a white van for awhile, but the term is not used here in the states. Really enjoyed the backround music, but cant find a soundtrack listing anywhere. Also, where have I seen Adrian before? I know he has acted, and it would be great to see him do a guest appearance in his own show. Kudos for achieving that 50%.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's a promising start, but I found that, particularly in episode 2, I was longing for Mellor's character to catch a break. No-one gets that kind of continual bad luck. It's like they ramped it up to farcical proportions. Being a writer myself, I'd rather let the characters develop naturally.

    And I'd have slapped or sacked his "assistant".

  • Comment number 10.

    I would like to congratulate Adrian on achieving his ambition on having a sitcom commissioned.I know how terribly hard it is to convince your self that your on to a winning concept..let alone the ardous task of trying to gain the approval of the B.B.C executives that decide if you are worthy of their selection process!! I found W.V.M enjoyable and very well written. I would love to sit down with Mr Poynton and drink copious ammounts of tea, and discuss my sitcom project that has been 'bobbing' around my head since 2004!! I'm sure between the two us we could have another true to life and hilarious sitcom, after all as they say, two heads are better than one.Plus he managed to pull it off without resorting to a continuous ammount of smut and unecessary swearing!

    Well done governer I wish you all the very best, please let me know your stand up dates :>

  • Comment number 11.

    Just wondering if perhaps Adrian would share his writing technique with us? perhaps examples of his scripts could be posted on B.B.C. writers room. It would be intresting to see his use of structure,character arcs and plot development. As we all know sitcoms are perceived as the 'holy Grail' of comedy writng and as he has mastered these giant hurdles it would be brilliant if he could share this with us fellow aspiring frustrated writers! :> I wonder how he must feel today as his idea was aired and gratefully received last night? grinning from ear to ear and sinking some well earned bevys no doubt!

  • Comment number 12.

    I watched this and thought it funny I never liked Two Pints but I enjoyed the two episodes and thought Will Mellor did a good job, really like the "you look like Mike" joke, some people on comedy writing sites have mixed opinion but they haven't had anything on TV so if I were in the writers shoes and under 33 as he claims to be I would be happy, Id buy some crocodile shoes to mark my success.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi guys my name is Luke and i'm from the big yellow van company. I though this was a great show, I've always liked will mellor and though he shone.
    Didn't get great reviews but it was top draw.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 14.

    Just watched first two episodes back to back and I can't wait for the next episodes. Original, witty, Will is great in it, main characters are superb, well done ! at last a good sitcom, role on Series 2

  • Comment number 15.

    I always trusted the BBC to deliver quality programmes. White Van Man is a total waste of licence payers money. Whoever is in charge of sanctioning expenditure on such drivel should be sacked.

  • Comment number 16.

    I liked the first episode a lot. I thought it was a well-written, well acted and crafted piece of television. It's odd how some people disliked it so much. I preferred it to Episodes and thought it much better than Friday Night Dinner. It reminded me of Fawlty Towers a little - it made me cringe, but in a good way.

  • Comment number 17.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first two episodes, and confidently expect to enjoy the rest even more as I get to know the characters better. There were several ingenious ideas; "you look like Mike" for instance. Will Mellor is a convincing actor, and an unexpected bonus for me was to find the delectable and gorgeous Susanna Page (aka Stacey!) was a member of the cast in the 2nd episode (and hopefully more). Good job, everyone!

  • Comment number 18.

    Not funny.

  • Comment number 19.

    @peterpilot *Joanna Page

  • Comment number 20.

    Absolutely love this show. Can't remember a show with such promise, yet simple premise. Keep it up!

  • Comment number 21.

    After some late-night flicking, I found nothing was on, so decided to watch this crappy random thing that I'd never heard of.
    ... Except it turned out to not be crappy, and I'm on BBC iPlayer catching up on the previous ones.

    For an up-and-coming writer, you should be damn proud of yourself, gratz for successfully getting this up and running. It's incredibly watchable as a light-hearted thing. I think that it has a light-hearted feel to it - some programmes just try too hard, and it shows, they just look like they think the viewers are idiots. Sure, we probably are, but the game is to not let us know that you know that. WVM doesn't seem to force jokes! So it's all good news.

    Keep 'em coming.

    p.s. Ollie/Will Mellor is most certainly better than a 4/10. ;)

  • Comment number 22.

    White van man is absoloutely fantastic! It's hilarious, fun packed and has something that everyone can relate to! I couldn't tell u what my favourite episode is because they're all excellent! Me and my brother are massive WVM fans roll on series 2 thank you Adrian poynton keep up the good work :)

  • Comment number 23.

    hilarious comedy i hope theres a series 2 n people who dis this show need to get a sense of humour 10/10

  • Comment number 24.

    Superb comedy! Darren is just hilarious. Well done and please make another series.

  • Comment number 25.

    Really enjoyed the show. Can't believe some of the critical commentators were watching the same show. The question has been asked before , but couldn't see a reply, is it possible to get a track listing for the snippets of reggae/ ska played between scenes, thanks

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    i think the characters and storyline is maturing. They are becoming moe defined and the subplots give the program diversity. I am no writer but I think the program was a bit loose and without direction in the previous series. From thewriters blog he doesn't seem like a professional writer as its just what he experienced through people he knew. With some more proffesional writers I think this program has legs. In fact it could turn out to the new Only Fools and Horses.

  • Comment number 28.

    Where can I get the soundtrack to Series 3 White Van Man? My husband is enjoying the current series on BBC3 so much that he wants to get his hands on the music. Probably reminded him so much of his youth. Can anyone help?

 

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