Thursday 12 February 2009, 12:13
Yesterday we had one of our regular get-togethers for the Script Readers, who help me and the team read through the large amount of submissions we get year round. I invited Simon Harper along to speak to them. Simon is the Development Editor on Holby City. His job is to find and develop new writers for the show. He said that it was often writers who sent in theatre or radio scripts appealed to him more, because the dialogue was sharper, and the stories more adventurous. "Erudition" was something he looked for in a script, and "grown up writing". Too many writers, he said, looked backwards when they wrote television, back to the early days of Holby, a style of writing that existed before shows like Grey's Anatomy and The West Wing, part of a wave of American TV drama that's had a huge influence for the good over here. He wanted writing that took chances and showed ambition and aspiration.
Later, I asked the readers for their pet likes and dislikes. One thing that ranked high on the list of dislikes was scripts where the writer seems to be trying to write what they think is television, rather than writing honestly and from the heart, and intelligently. The result of this, everyone agreed, was too many scripts that could only be classed as "competent but dull" - filled with old fashioned television clichÃ©s and that, worst of all, talked down to the audience.
Personally speaking, I read a lot of scripts where I feel the writer has "dumbed down" what they have to say, as if they think that is what is required on television. In fact, Continuing Drama, as anyone who loves it will tell you, is at its best when it treats its audience as intelligent adults.
Is there self-censoring going on out there? We don't want "television", but honest believeable drama. Is that unfair?
Join the discussion...