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18 June 2014
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Writing reality

Twisting the tools of the trade

BBCi: How difficult did you find it to script the supposedly live, spur-of-the-moment events that transpired as the drama unfolds?

Stephen Volk: I watched everything that was live on TV at the time, not just Hospital Watch, Tomorrow’s World, but Wogan... everything.

Whenever I saw a device that would be fun I incorporated it: the video wall, blow-up photos, the stolen objects on Crimewatch became the box of shattered objects on Ghostwatch, for example.

You couldn’t script it like dialogue, it had to be like interview speech which paradoxically is all exposition - the very thing you avoid in conventional screenplay writing! So Pam Early told her whole story of the Glory Hole to camera, for instance – [she has] that trembling lip and the camera relentlessly goes in.

Incidentally, my hat goes off to the brilliant director Lesley Manning for sticking to her guns. For going for unknowns and using long, long takes with the camera tracking around. It wasn’t filmed in one go but the fact that people thought it was means it worked!

Read our review of Ghostwatch >>

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