Editor's Note: Blood, Sex and Money is a groundbreaking adaptation of all 20 novels in Emile Zola's epic Rougon-Macquart family saga for BBC Radio 4. The first part 'Blood' is now available on BBCiPlayer
Why adapt Zola? What’s he got to say to us today? If the novels are so good why not leave them as they are – as novels – and forget it?
These are the questions I started with when asked if I’d be interested in adapting not one, not two, not three but twenty novels by Emile Zola, the Rougon-Macquart cycle. I didn’t know Zola well. Like most people, I’d read his first book Therese Raquin and I’d studied J’Accuse at school. And being a playwright, I knew that he was the granddaddy of naturalism. When I thought of Zola I thought of rigorous truth-telling, a darkness beneath the surface, violence, Paris and love-triangles. Of course, I said yes.
Since then Zola has occupied a huge amount of my waking life. The team of writers – Dan...
Tom Rob Smith
Can you describe your early life as a writer? Did you always combine writing scripts, novels and poetry?
I began by writing plays and prose, never poetry. I was very lucky with playwriting as there was a good theatre at my school, and they encouraged me to write my own material. That was my first real experience of writing and rewriting according to whether people liked it – editing my own material, casting it and testing it in the real world. At the same time I always wrote prose short stories and the beginnings of lots of books, never getting to the end. I didn’t start writing film or TV scripts until I was at university, when I had a friend who wanted to be a director so I wrote scripts for him.
London Spy: Danny (Ben Whishaw)(Image Credit: Working Title/Joss Barratt)
Do you find scriptwriting and novel writing satisfying in different ways? Is it possible to summarise them as different disciplines?
It’s hard to separate the difference between the two in terms of the act of writing, after all they are both something...
How did you become involved in this project?
I was already reading Capital when Derek Wax (Executive Producer), who I’ve worked with before, sent me it. It hadn’t occurred to me that it could be adapted because so much of it is people’s internal dialogue and thoughts, so I thought the challenge of that would be intriguing. I’ve admired John Lanchester’s writing as an economist so to begin with I was just excited to meet him! Then the more I read the book the more I thought it was similar to Dickens, both in terms of catching a moment of time and how the big decisions filter in to everyday life. If you start with the people at the bottom, who absorb the impact of those decisions, there’s something dramatic there. So that’s how it started.
Capital: Roger (Toby Jones), Arabella (Rachael Stirling)(Image Credit: BBC/Kudos/Hal Shinnie)
How did you go about adapting it?
One of my first realisations was that in order to turn it into a contained series, I’d have to lose a couple of story strands. But I...
"My dream is to be a screenwriter (especially for Doctor Who). Do you have any advice?" Yes it turns out I do.
Editor's note: Sarah Dollard @snazdoll is a screenwriter with credits including Neighbours, Being Human, The Game and Episode 10, Series 9 of Doctor Who "Face the Raven". She had previously published this post on tumblr, packed with useful advice for writers. We've shared it here with her permission.
rowlingandmoffat asked: My dream is to be a screenwriter (especially for Doctor Who). Do you have any advice?
I tried to answer this concisely. I failed. Please excuse the rambling screed that follows…
Write. Write every day, in one way or another. If you don’t love writing, then choose...
At 2.15pm on Monday 16th November, the first episode of my first ever TV series, The Coroner, will be broadcast on BBC One. Something that is simultaneously thrilling and ever so slightly nerve wracking.
The Coroner: Mick (Ivan Kaye), Judith (Beatie Edney), Beth (Grace Hogg-Robinson), Jane (Claire Goose), Davey (Matt Bardock), Clint (Oliver Gomm) (Photo credit: BBC/Mike Hogan)
Editor's Note: Leo Richardson was one of eight writers who were recently invited to our first writers' residential at Alston Hall in Lancashire (in partnership with BBC Drama North). This follows many successful writer residentials at Bore Place in Kent. He explains how he got involved and what happened:
How did you become a writer? Had you been involved with BBC Writersroom before?
I used to be an actor. I gained scholarship to a great school called Webber Douglas, and so I was reading scripts all the time. I always had a flair for writing. I would write monologues for people to perform...
The Break - the writers
Filming started this week on The Break - an exciting venture between BBC Taster, BBC Writersroom and BBC Drama Production to produce five original short monologues for online, written by up-and-coming BAME writing talent from across the UK. Each short consists of a standalone, contemporary individual monologue.
The selected writers were discovered through our talent searches, development...
Editor's Note: If you’ve seen Top Coppers on BBC Two recently, then you might be forgiven for thinking you had slipped into some kind of weird retro TV dream that looked like the 70s but had endless 90s references, with characters seemingly from all of the world, yet they live in a completely made-up place. And there’s a hamster on a zipline.
Co-creators and writers Andy Kinnear and Céin McGillicuddy are to blame for that. They form an unusual team, in that they co-write together whilst Andy is also an editor and Céin a director. They talk through how they came to form their writing...
It started with the image of a man sitting on a check-out counter, dousing himself in coke. An image which (perhaps worryingly) arrived in my head one night without any explanation or obvious source. I had no idea who he was, or what he was doing there, but as Pinter said ‘our beginnings never know our ends’, and I always find plenty of time to fret about 'the whys' later.
The man soon became Jim, a wannabe Buddhist Sin Eater in a Midlands mini-mart, trying his best to atone. But things aren't ever that easy. So Jim had to be confronted by his polar opposite: a form-ticking,...
Editor's Note: Room to Write was a writer development scheme run by BBC Scotland Comedy in 2014. Barry Hutchison was one of the twenty-two writers who took part. He explains why he decided to enter, what he learnt and why he'd recommend it.
I like funny stuff.
That was more or less my entire motivation for submitting some sketches to BBC Scotland Comedy’s Room to Write scheme way back in… erm… the past. I’m not great with dates....