The Ark - Noah (David Threlfall) (BBC/Red Planet Pictures)
After writing The Nativity for BBC One, they asked if I wanted to write any other “Bible” stories. To be honest I hadn’t even thought about it, but when you’re sitting in a room with the BBC controller of Drama and he’s asking you if you’d like to write something; it tends to focus the mind. I thought hard, silently cursing my limited knowledge of the Bible and I heard myself saying “Noah”. Three years later I’m standing in the desert in Morocco watching David Threlfall build a big boat.
The Ark - Nahlab (Hannah John-Kamen), Ham (Ian Smith), Japheth (Andrew Hawley), Aris (Georgina Campbell), Salit (Emily Bevan), Shem (Michael Fox), Kenan (Nico Mirallergo) (BBC/Red Planet Pictures)
My first thought was that everyone had already done the dodgy looking floods and the animals trotting up the ramp two by two, using the fact that the alligators weren’t eating the cute ducks who proceeded them as proof that this was indeed God’s...
Inside No. 9 - Series 2, Episode 1, 'La Couchette' - Julie Claire Hesmondhalgh, Steve Pemberton, Mark Benton, Jessica Gunning, Reece Shearsmith and Jack Whitehall (BBC/Sophie Mutevelian)
Steve Pemberton, writer and actor for shows such as A League of Gentlemen, Psychoville and Benidorm, talks to BBC Writersroom about his upcoming 2nd series of Inside No. 9. A dark comedy anthology which he co-writes/co-stars in with Reece Shearsmith
You caused a lot of discussion and acclaim for your silent episode ‘A Quiet Night In’ last series; do you have any similar convention breaking episodes in this upcoming series?
Well we decided early on not to try another silent episode, in spite of countless people asking us if we were going to. We felt that "A Quiet Night In" worked well on its own terms and that it would be foolish to do an inferior version of it. We have done an episode in the new series which is set in a volunteer call centre, the Comfort Support Line. The idea was that we'd film one telephone booth on a static CCTV camera and then watch someone taking the calls. In a way it's the polar opposite of "A Quiet Night In" because it is so static and all about listening,...
Ordinary Lies (BBC/Red Productions, photo by Ben Blackall)
How did you develop the idea for Ordinary Lies?
The idea of writing a series about the secret lives of people who work together had been something I had been thinking about for some time. I love writing about secrets, lies, duplicity, but I also love writing about ordinary people, so I married the two ideas together. You only have to pick up a copy of a local newspaper to see that every single day people are doing things they shouldn’t – some big, some small. I wanted to create a drama series that allowed us to tell some of these stories.
Did you have any key inspirations for any of the stories?
They are all modern morality tales. Every single episode, without being preachy, is a story about an aspect of modern life – whether it be debt, grief, internet sex or young girls wanting a quick route to cash and designer clothes. I wanted to write a series that was really contemporary.
What challenges did you face whilst writing the series?
The challenge for me is always making sure the...
Editor's Note: In the last of our 3 blogs from US writers, Lang Fisher on her journey from satirical newspaper The Onion to The Mindy Project writers' room, including some great advice.
Being a comedy writer, as I would assume being any kind of writer, is a vastly personal experience. When you write something that’s “not that funny”, you immediately take it as a referendum not only on your talent, but on your personality as a whole. “If this isn’t funny, then maybe I’m not funny, and I guess my whole life has been a total lie, why didn’t I go to med school?” But the truth is, writing is a...
Editor's Note: Room to Write was a new BBC Comedy and BBC Writersroom initiative, to select a group of comedy writers to work with BBC Scotland’s Comedy Production team and each other, in creating the next wave of Scottish comedy shows.
Kim MacAskill sums up what she learnt from Room to Write and passes on some great advice in 3 Lessons.
Room to Write - Watch the trailer
Someone once told me that to be a great comedy...
How did you become involved with the project?
I was approached by Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer at Mammoth Screen and asked to consider adapting the first two Poldark novels ('Ross Poldark' and 'Demelza'). I'd never done an adaptation before - and almost everything else I've written has been contemporary so my initial reaction was to think they'd asked the wrong person! Nevertheless I took...
Banished - a new drama for BBC Two set during the founding of the penal colony in Australia in 1788.
Banished: Myanna Buring as Elizabeth Quinn, Julian Rhind-Tutt as Tommy Barrett and Russell Tovey as James Freeman (BBC/RSJ Films, Photographer: Mark Rogers)
You originally developed a film around the plight of the first convicts in New South Wales. How much of that formed the story of Banished? And how easy was it to transfer that film script to a TV drama?
Yeah, I wrote the film with an Aussie writer called Mac Gudgeon. It was about the first few years of the penal colony. I told the story from the convicts' perspective and Mac told it from the...
Editor's Note: In the second of our series of three blogs examining writing for US productions we spoke to 'Nurse Jackie' writer Ellen Fairey.
Edie Falco as Nurse Jackie Peyton
What inspired you to become a writer? Where did it come from – did you always know you wanted to write?
I think writing stories was a way to understand the world around me, interpret (or reinterpret) it and maybe most importantly a way of controlling it....
Development Producer, Writersroom
If film is a director’s medium, then television is certainly still very much the writer’s. It’s often said television is going through a golden age at the moment – especially for writers. There are so many fantastic television and online shows which really embrace the authorial voice and don’t shy away from wordiness and complex storylines in their exploration of the human condition. It’s brilliant news for writers because the bar has been set so high, the medium is getting the respect it deserves and it attracts the best talent across the board. Also, with the advent of online, there are...
After winning the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award last year I was tasked with developing a Radio Play. The idea that I wanted to develop wasn’t “The Spoken Word” which was the play that won the award. Instead there was an idea that I knew well even though at this early stage it was only a paragraph:
Beware of spoilers:
Shamed by Furquan Akhtar - final studio script
Shabana is grieving for her son. She's recently lost him...