Hetty Feather (Isabel Clifton) (Photo: Des Willie/BBC)
It was quite some time ago that CBBC approached me to see if I was interested in adapting Hetty Feather… Such a long while ago that I can’t actually remember the year. It could have been 2010, it could have been 2011… But suffice to say, that it was long enough ago for the exact timing to have now become a blur in the memory. Anyhow, they sent me the book – and I read it and I cried. And I knew there and then it was a project I didn’t just want to write; I had to write.
I’d adapted Dustbin Baby, also by Jacqueline Wilson, back in 2009. It was a 90-minute family feature for CBBC and BBC One, produced by Kindle Entertainment. It had heart. It also had Juliet Stevenson, Dakota Blue-Richards and David Haig in the starring roles. And the same thematic drive as Hetty Feather: one girl’s on-going search for her birth mother. The endings to the two stories, for the character of April in Dustbin Baby, and the character of Hetty, are very different – but they share a parallel need to complete...
Editor's note: Our Script Room for unsolicited scripts is open twice a year, once for Comedy and once for Drama. The most recent Comedy Script Room closed last month. Since then our team of freelance Script Readers have been busy ....
Dave sits typing at his computer in the dusty, corporate grey of an open-plan office staring into space. He wishes he was writing a script, but instead he’s doing something monotonous and soul destroying in Excel. For a treat he takes a sip of coffee, realising too late that it’s cold, has been there since yesterday and is covered in skin. An overhead fan whirs, which is strange, as offices haven’t had overhead fans since 1988. He bangs his head on his desk in despair. “This,” he thinks, “would make a brilliant sitcom.”
Meanwhile in the BBC Writersroom, a script reader is on page seven of a comedy about someone called Dave banging his head on a desk and is wondering how long it will take for him to knock himself out. She is feeling sad that there are so many Daves out there, having such a miserable time in so many unfulfilling jobs. So sad, she hasn’t laughed once.
Young guys in offices, young guys in flatshares, young guys playing football, older...
What made you become a writer?
I've just always wanted to write. I studied English at university, then set up my own theatre company and began writing plays. My first play got me an agent. My most recent one, 'Dogs Barking', has received productions world-wide but theatre work doesn't pay the bills so the move into screenwriting was driven by necessity as well as desire.
How did you get your first break?
My break into TV was through EastEnders. A producer read one of my plays which got me onto the EastEnders shadow scheme and after I passed that hurdle I got an episode to write for real. That went well and I wrote a few more episodes then got asked to write on a lawyer show called This Life which became quite iconic so that really helped too.
What did you learn from your time writing for EastEnders? Is writing for continuing drama something every TV writer should do?
It's not essential but volume shows like soaps provide a lot more opportunities for writers who are keen to break into...
The C Word: Lisa Lynch (Sheridan Smith), Pete Lynch (Paul Nicholls) Photo: Stuart Wood
Back in 2010, I was sent Lisa’s book by a BBC producer to see if I wanted to adapt it. Adapt it? I was afraid to open it. I was scared to read about cancer for the same reason that people are bad at talking about it. It’s frightening – and the more people don’t talk about it, the more frightening it becomes.
Two pages in, I was laughing. A few hundred pages later I was still sitting in the same...
What was your inspiration for writing The Game?
My brother had recommended I read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, by John le Carre. I’d never read any le Carre before and it was a revelation. I was fascinated by the world, by the era and especially the Cold war – this invisible conflict that raged all around us until relatively recently. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and we all assumed that...
Development Producer, BBC Writersroom
Simon Nelson is settling into his role as the BBC Writersroom’s new Development Producer.
Well, hello to all regular (and irregular) readers of the BBC Writersroom blog. As some of you will have read in her last blog entry, Abigail Gonda has left us for a time to take her maternity leave. Abigail has been a bold and indefatigable champion of New Writing and will be much missed by her friends and colleagues here at the BBC. I, for one, will miss her enormously and I know that I have very big boots to fill! I want to thank Abigail for all her support during our handover period and I am sure...
What is your writing background? What part did Le Guin’s work play in it?
I had no formal training. In my youth creative writing courses didn’t exist. I settled for always wanting to be a writer. Then discovered, when I began, that it was a playwright I wanted to be: making four dimensional models with words that could stand up off the page and move and speak and shape environments or respond...
Executive Producer, BBC Radio Drama
The Ravens will be broadcast on BBC World Service on 25th April at 11pm (BST) 10pm (GMT) and on BBC iPlayer for 30 days
This competition does have about the longest official title in the world – the BBC World Service/British Council International Radio Playwriting Competition, co-produced with The Open University, in partnership with Commonwealth Writers. But don’t let that put you off! It is all those partners working with BBC World Service who enable us to keep what I think is one of the most wondrous competitions in the world alive.
BBC Creative Director of New Writing
When I created the BBC Writersroom I had a passionate and fundamental belief in two things. One is that the BBC should be open and accessible to all writers, as we need different and distinct voices to reflect the wonderful complexity of the UK, and secondly we should be active not passive in our drive and ambition to find and support the best writer talent. What started as a small and dedicated team in 1998 attached to Radio Drama (where I was Head), has grown in size and stature, but has never lost sight of the key tenants that made BBC Writersroom pioneering and unique across the...
When a group of writers were put in a room, force fed cheese, and asked to come up with some ideas for an online drama, no one could have predicted where our minds would go.
“We’ve decided it should be a 24 hour, looped, document containing all the CCTV footage from the last day of a girls life.”
“Right. 24hours? Not, say, eight 3 minute episodes?”
“Nope. We’d like our thing to be an immersive 24 hours.”
“Cool. That sounds cheap. Ok then.”
And OK it was. Kate (Rowland - head of BBC Writersroom) listened to our idea and fought for it from day one. She understood, like us, there needed to be a...