Writer and Journalist
Ext. Forest. Day.
Lily, 9, crashes through the undergrowth, the key to Utopian World of Endless Adventure held tightly in her hand. She reaches the portal and plunges the key into the lock. The door yawns open. She’s bathed in pulsating light. She steps forward. Johnny, 9, touches her shoulder.
No, Lily. You wait here and look after the rucksacks. I’ll go and have all the fun….
If you’re a girl and a TV viewer the anti-climax of this scenario might be familiar. As a woman who is now writing for TV, I started to wonder how I could help Lily shoulder-butt Johnny out of the way so she’s the one who gets the glowy lights and adventures?
My experience is in writing continuing drama and I try to write guest characters as women whenever possible. But then it occurred to me that writing for children’s TV might be where it’s at when it comes to challenging gender stereotypes. So, armed with a yen to write for kids - and a pen of course - I jumped on my unicorn and headed to the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield this week to find out.
Just some of the organisations at the Children's Media Conference in Sheffield
A Song for Jenny: Julie Nicholson (Emily Watson) (Image: BBC/Robert Viglasky)
What was the first thing that struck you about Julie’s book?
I was really struck by how well written it was. She’s a magnificent writer, but what I thought was extremely impressive was the detail that she could recall of every part of every day, in the search for Jenny’s body and then the discovery of Jenny’s body. But even more crucial was the way that it was not in the slightest overwritten; there was a spare-ness to it and an accuracy, which I think bore tremendous testimony to her pain and to the articulation of that pain and to the reality of it. So I felt it was an extremely brutal book, but very beautiful in its refusal to sentimentalise or to excuse the violence that had destroyed her beloved daughter. I’m enormously impressed by the strength of character in the composition itself and that’s what I went for.
How did you approach turning Julie’s book into a screenplay?
I went through it enormously slowly after the initial first great read of it. It’s a great read but it is...
It was 10.30am and Dave had been typing the number seven into Excel for the past three hours. He was wondering if his fingers or the keyboard would be the first to break, when an email arrived: “Thank you for sending us your script. We appreciate the time it took you to write it and contact us. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to take your work any further.”
Dave felt the familiar thud in his chest. He didn’t need to read the rest. He knew what was coming from the word “unfortunately”. At first he was angry. Why did no one appreciate his office-based sitcom ‘Dave Goes to Work’ quite like he did? Then he was sad, as if his script was a friend who had just died. Then he hated his script and wished it had never been born. Then he parcel taped over all of the keys on his keyboard, except for number seven, and vowed never to write again.
If you recently received an email from the BBC Writersroom informing you that your script wasn’t selected for this year’s Comedy Script Room, you may be experiencing similar emotions. Of course, you may be fine – in which case, great – but if you’re not, this is a blog for you (and, if he can get the tape off his keyboard enough to access...
As a writer of short films, I’m used to finding audiences at film festivals – people who have to get off their bums and go buy a ticket to see your film. So when I heard through BBC Writersroom about the BBC iPlayer Original Drama Shorts I knew this was a unique and exciting opportunity – the chance to write something which had no set slot, length or channel, but which had the ability to reach such a wide audience.
I was invited to attend a workshop at the BBC with about 30 or so other writers and we spent the day watching and discussing short films and TV dramas, meeting the 2014 Drama...
Actor, Writer, Director and Co-founder of TriForce
Editor's Note: Fraser Ayres co-founded The Triforce Creative Network with best friend Jimmy Akingbola in 2004. TriForce was founded to open the doors to the entertainment industry to people from all walks of life, as well as provide a trusted and viable avenue for the industry to discover diverse talent.
Finalist Michael Wiafe at the first WriterSlam.
My Jihad: Nazir (Hamza Jeetooa), (Photo by Colin Hutton, Copyright BBC)
It is March 2014. The first three BBC iPlayer shorts have just been officially launched and I am sat with the producer. She tells me that the BBC wants to make a sequel to 'My Jihad'. And the first thought that goes through my head is; "Why?"
In the moment that Fahmida turned around and gave Nazir the look he had wanted, I was certain that my time with these characters was done. This was the...
Editor's Note: Future Talent was an opportunity we ran in the West Midlands between November 2014 and March 2015. Entrants were asked to submit a pilot episode for a potential online drama or comedy series.
As far back as I can remember, I've been writing. As a child, it involved a lot of Power Rangers fan fiction, which in retrospect was rather odd considering I didn't actually like Power Rangers. I've known since I was about fifteen that I wanted to write scripts for a living but this was before the Internet (it existed, just not in our house) and I struggled to find information on how...
What was it that made you think ‘I want to be a writer’?
I was interested in writing as far back as primary school and started adapting books we read at school into scripts - this came from an obsession with movies which I got from my Dad who was a total movie buff. I’d invite friends home and we’d act out the stories. As I got older I bought a 8mm cine camera and started making little...
The Interceptor: Valerie (Lorraine Ashbourne), Cartwright (Ewan Stewart), Ash (OT Fagbenle), Martin (Charlie de Melo), Tommy (Robert Lonsdale), Kim (Anna Skellern) (Photo: Des Willie/BBC)
What interested you in The Interceptor?
I was interested in exploring a particular milieu and its inherent themes which I felt we hadn’t seen on television for a while. I’m intrigued by the attitude of ‘good guys’, regular men and women on regular salaries, towards their daily job. What gives them the drive to want to do it? And what’s the effect on someone’s life of trying to bring down...
Original British Dramatists 2015 is a BBC Radio 4 showcase of five new plays by writers who are new (or newish – at Radio 4 we say a writer is new until they have written two plays for us) to radio - five out of about thirty newbie writers we commission every year into the 14.15 drama slot. We are looking for fresh new vibrant talent, strong, individual voices; we are scouting for the writing talent of tomorrow.
Original British Dramatists - Five new plays for BBC Radio 4