Thursday 28 November 2013, 17:47
The seed idea for Wild Blood came one South London night. I was walking home, trying to cross a busy street but none of the cars would slow down for me. A fox came to stand a few meters from me, also attempting to cross. It misjudged the timing, stepped into the traffic, thought better of it and turned back but the driver of the white van speeding towards it slowed, beeped his horn and the fox understood this meant it was safe to cross, did so, and the driver accelerated past me. I was gobsmacked that A) the fox and the driver knew and communicated instinctively through the language of traffic and B) that the driver didn't slow down for me to cross. Initially, I just told this as a crazy anecdote to friends but the more I thought of it, I imagined it was somehow symbolic of the values we place on life.
I pitched a play called 'PETS'. It would be about an older Nigerian businessman who comes to visit his son in London but finds it difficult to digest the western obsession with domesticated animals. He goes to great lengths to 'safeguard' his grandson from this culture. It was to be a comedy and the first draft was a simple father/son conversation that began when the father picked up...
Tuesday 19 November 2013, 12:36
It’s been a year since I won the Wales Drama Award. A biennial award set up by BBC Writersroom, BBC Wales and National Theatre Wales to celebrate writing talent working in Wales. I submitted the first draft of a new play I’d written called ‘Parallel Lines’.
I won £10,000. And immediately gave up the part time job that had funded my writing habit for a number of years. The £10,000 bought me some time and winning the award bought me a small drop of self belief.
Winning the Wales Drama Award was not a golden ticket to a six part prime time drama series or a large scale National Theatre production. Nor do I believe it should be. I have always prided myself on being judged by my work and my work alone. There is no easy route to making a career as a writer. You have to work hard and write hard, with the same fire and enthusiasm for your 100th script as you had for your first. But what the award has done for me has been to present me with possibilities, opportunities and open doors.
I gained an agent. A good one. I have been invited to apply for BBC schemes, workshops and writing opportunities within the BBC. With one of the workshops came an opportunity to pitch a film for...
Monday 18 November 2013, 17:13
When we set about developing Q Pootle 5 for television the first thing to consider was how to expand the show from the two books. The first book featured Q Pootle 5 and small collection of earth based animals including a cat called Colin – not the easiest cast to adapt for a series set in outer space. However, at the end of the story, Nick had illustrated a large spread of Q Pootle 5 with his space friends at a moon party. They were friendly and quirky looking aliens, but there wasn’t anything more to their existence at that stage.
The second book, set in space, featured Q Pootle 5 and his friends Oopsy and Planet Dave. Both were characters whose names said something about their character. Oopsy, well it’s pretty obvious, a bit clumsy, rash, gung-ho. Planet Dave, most people seem to know a Dave – the ones that Nick and I know are solid people, both in terms of their character and appearance. They’re kind and reliable too. It just seemed to fit. But even then, we only had three characters, and a talking planet isn’t necessarily the most straight-forward character to write for.
So Nick and I talked and talked and talked about what other characters might inhabit the...
Wednesday 13 November 2013, 13:58
If you're anything at all like me, actually forcing yourself to sit down and write can be tough. There's always something more pressing - TV, Twitter, frankly even cleaning can look attractive when faced with what seems like the gargantuan task of writing a play. And of course it's impossible to get started until you've been visited by some spectacular flash of inspiration, right? ...Wrong. You just need to start, and then continue and then finish, at which point you will have something, and however rubbish you think it is, it is definitely better than the blank page...
Monday 4 November 2013, 15:13
“They’ve probably given my script to the receptionist to read,” I once heard a writer say after sending his work to an agent. He was right. I was that receptionist, and his script, along with many others, was on my desk. “Lucky him,” you’re almost certainly not thinking. But you’d be wrong. It was good, so I passed it on to the agent I was working for at the time. In doing so, I presumably increased its chances of getting somewhere – or, at the very least, saved it from a “standard rejection” letter.
Having posted many such letters in the past, I know how difficult it...
Thursday 31 October 2013, 13:29
Here at writersroom it’s been an extraordinarily busy time, we’re thinking hard about the future and how to be the most creative, effective room in the land. Last Monday we hosted an event for theatres, writers and BBC Execs and producers – a conversation about the power of partnership, digital futures and how we can do more together. The bottom line for all of us, both theatres and broadcasters are our writers and with a panel including Vicky Feathersone (AD Royal Court), and Lorne Campbell (AD northern Stage) with writers Abi Morgan, Mark Ravenhill and Roy Williams to challenge and...
Tuesday 29 October 2013, 17:41
If you've ever played the parlour game Consequences, you've got the basic principal of Radio 4 Extra's 'Chain Gang' drama. When I started the project 4 series ago on what was then BBC7, it was just a six episode reading, voiced by one of our staff announcers. But the principle of 'What do you want to happen next?' was there, and we could see the potential. With series two and three picking up a variety of awards, it's grown into a full cast drama, but it's still as true as it ever was that we have no idea what will happen in next week's episode. That's up to our listeners who send in their 200...
Tuesday 22 October 2013, 13:25
1. It’s a privilege
The show began in 1951 as a sort of ‘farming Dick Barton’. I recently spoke to over 100 members of the Oldham Coliseum Full Circle group, and they remembered vividly events like the death of Grace Archer which happened before I was even born. The Archers is a national institution, with the likes of the Institute of Chartered Accountants discussing business issues raised in...
Monday 21 October 2013, 10:15
Archers scriptwriter Keri Davies picks apart the writing process.
Have a listen to this:
I was the writer lucky enough to have the job of creating the script for that scene – in fact for the whole week of episodes (this scene is from the Sunday, 19 May 2013).
But I didn’t just sit down in my chilly writer’s garret and conjure up this hell on a whim. What you hear broadcast is the final part of a process that began...
Thursday 10 October 2013, 16:43
Back in 1987 I’d been working in the BBC Radio Drama department for six years and having had a number of jobs in the script unit (first reading unsolicited scripts and then editing the Afternoon Play slot) I was finally working as a full time drama producer.
It seemed to me at the time that radio was in danger of losing out on a new generation of writers, who were going straight to theatre or television, and I proposed to Michael Green, who was then Controller of Radio 4, that we launch a national search for new writers for radio drama.
Original flyer for the 1988 BBC Radio Young Writers...