The original idea for Me and Mrs Jones came from a magazine article where a TV actress was talking about the lack of good comedy roles for women in their 40’s. This gave us the germ of an idea for a show where a woman (Gemma) fell in love with a younger man (Billy) only the dilemma wasn’t primarily that he was younger but that he was her sons friend.

We wanted her to be a single mum with an older son (Alfie) and two younger kids, an ex who was a bit useless (Jason) and a man on the horizon who seems perfect but something about him is just a bit off (Tom). We also knew early on that we wanted Me and Mrs Jones to be more of a romantic comedy than sitcom, with the audience investing in the relationship between Gemma and Billy that’s at its heart but also to fall in love with Tom without realising it.

Me and Mrs Jones

We were going to take the idea to America to pitch out there but before we left we met with Producer Serena Cullen who loved the idea of a woman falling in love with her sons friend. She told us if America weren’t interested she was! In the end we sold a different script to Fox and were able to develop Me and Mrs Jones with Serena who had the same vision for it as us. With the help of Simon Wilson at the BBC we got a two script commission. At this point we met with Beryl Vertue (Hartswood) who shared the same enthusiasm for the project that we all did and she agreed to Executive Produce it.

With the support of the BBC’s Cheryl Taylor we did a read through with some of the actors for Danny Cohen, an intimidating process but it gives the commissioners an idea of what the show will sound like. After the read through we got the pilot which we delivered around Christmas 2011 and because of holidays and things the BBC commissioned a third script before deciding on a series. It was a very tense time for us wondering if this was the end of the line or the beginning.

By this point we had spent two years moving through the process and waiting can feel like torture at times. Then in January 2012 we got the call saying we’d got the series. That gave us till May to write the remaining episodes.

Tom bumps into Gemma at the school gates and asks her out but she reacts nervously.

Once you get the yes suddenly everything moves at break neck speed. It was a challenge but we set about planning the series, running story ideas past Serena and Beryl. It’s vital to have a producer you can trust in terms of story telling. Both Beryl and Serena let us run with the scripts but were there to help focus us and offer up ideas and solutions. Once the episodes were mapped we would divide the scenes up and then go over and over them. Often reading them aloud to each other on iChat.

We love to work in a collaborative way and we were lucky that Beryl and Serena carried that process on into the filming of the show. We were there for all the filming and participated in discussions about the cast and the look and the feel of the show. Nick Hurran the director had such a clear vision of the show and we will never be able to thank him, Harry Banks the designer, Lisa Cavelli Green the make up designer and Caroline Pritchard the costume designer for bringing our scripts to life just as we imagined them.

As a writer you are often powerless over the process and we would encourage all writers to be as involved as they can in the show they created.

Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling are the writers of Me and Mrs Jones - a brand new comedy for BBC One. Watch the first episode back on BBC iPlayer. The series continues on BBC One, Fridays at 9.30pm

Watch Oriane and Fay's interview about the series for BBC Media Centre.

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by JennieJ

    on 10 Feb 2013 18:33

    I am an American, and found this show on the internet. I LOVED this series, and was very distressed to hear that it was canceled - seemingly in mid thought! I really wanted to see what would happen. Such is life I suppose.

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  • Comment number 11. Posted by lisa

    on 4 Dec 2012 15:54

    hi I'm italian girl e and I love this series , please keep it going

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by Jenmarya

    on 22 Nov 2012 13:54

    I'd liked to have seen Billy as the single dad with an odd backstory (computer whiz, has kids cause his slightly older ex abandoned hers) and Gemma as the hitchhiker. Maybe this could pop up as a dream? Or as a reality? (C'mon, Lost had polar bears!) As it is, Sheehan standing around looking earnest is a criminally sad waste.

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by Ashles

    on 14 Nov 2012 10:54

    Very interesting to hear a rough idea of the timeline around pitching, the early stages of the process, then the rush after series approval.

    Is it normal for a writer to continue to be heavily involved when a series is actually in production? I thought normally writers wanted to be involved all the way through, but it became more the director/producer's show at this stage?

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by Faye

    on 12 Nov 2012 17:47

    I love this series, can definately relate to to Gemma especially the school run with the perefect mums in the playground, makes me chuckle. Plus surprisungly the way the script is written, I'm routing for Billy and Gemma to get it together but at same time feel sorry for Tom as he is so nice, which we all know in life being nice doesn't necessarilly get you what you want. Great series, its nice to chill on a friday night after hectic week with work and kids and just watch a funny show, cant wait for new series.

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by writergirlj84

    on 11 Nov 2012 19:37

    I have been watching and enjoying the show, it has kind of platoed for me but Sarah Alexander is awesome, the nervous stutter she pulls off is brilliant and as a collective the cast have done a great job selling the story. I have to say it has not hurt having amazing eye candy in the form of Robert Sheehan to watch every week, but he is a great actor and i don't think the role really shows his stregnth. Overall fun to watch and at least its something different from the bbc, programmes at the moment can be a little samey. Lets hope Billy and Gemma finally get together in the last episode. Well done Oriane and Fay on a funny and original script. Lets hope you get a second season. From a lover of romantic sitcoms, bbc please produce more shows like this.

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by Scuba_2

    on 4 Nov 2012 11:17

    Sarah Alaxander is gorgeous and having seen her in coupling This is a natural progression.
    She is good looking and very funny ,but very belivable.
    This works for me hope there are lots more to come.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by Robert Bond

    on 2 Nov 2012 22:13

    Really didn't enjoy this at all.

    The idea and premise is very laudable and I've really enjoyed members of the cast on other projects but I really think Sarah Alexander is mis cast in this. I don't think this is a character that fits her strengths as a brilliant comedy actress.

    The script is clunky, unrealistic and the jokes are predictable and worse than this the lines are deeply boring! I know theres a certain hyped style to dialogue in sit coms but this dosen't go far enough and that makes this very dull!

    Don't know about middle class nonsense but you really wonder how on earth this script got made!

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by Catherine

    on 26 Oct 2012 15:44

    I love this series so far! It's really quite funny, I know I've only seen 2 of the episodes but I hope they do another series. Robert Sheehan is soo funny I loved him in Misfits and he works so well with Sarah Alexander, I like their should they should they not get together. Neil Morrissey was a great person to cast. Great program, please keep it going.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by Debby

    on 25 Oct 2012 15:49

    I love this series, and hope to see more of it. The casting is brilliant and so are the scripts. I hope to see the scripts of all episodes on line. I love reading it and relive the episodes in my mind.

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