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29 October 2014
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The Street 

Jane Horrocks as Angela and Shaun Dooley as Peter

The Street - a new drama for BBC ONE

Making The Street

Jimmy McGovern, Lead Writer and prolific talent, says: "The Street is based on the idea that you can walk down any street and knock on any door and there will be a story there. Six great stories about ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations.


"The stories revolve around love. I've never come across a drama that doesn't touch on love in some way. Even in Silence of the Lambs there was some weird loving relationship between those two people.


"It's an easy thing to say, but it's there on all the streets of our country, behind every door, there's love. It could be quite perverse love, it could be honourable love or uplifting love – but there is always a love story behind a front door.


"We had a trawl of writers actually. We put out the fact we wanted good unusual stories – we got hundreds in. I'm sad to say that 85-90% of those stories were regurgitated TV stories – stories you were sick of seeing on TV.


"There were very few that were fresh and new. We didn't go with writers just because of what they have done in the past. The main thing was finding six great stories.


Joint Head of BBC Independent Drama, John Yorke, says: "One of the attractive things about this project was Jimmy's commitment to getting new writers involved and giving them a voice on prime time BBC ONE".


"So he worked hand in hand with four new writers – honing and perfecting their stories into classic Play For Today like scripts.


"One of the things we are trying to do at the BBC is invest very heavily in the training of new talent.


"It's something we are doing in Drama Series with the Writers Academy, and to find another way of doing it through a writer of Jimmy's calibre is a huge boost to that cause."


Executive producer Sita Williams continues: "Jimmy and I discussed setting up a series that he would be the principal writer of and we would bring in new voices - new writers to work with him in a very collaborative way.


"With Jimmy at the helm writing the first two stories and thereafter overwriting, where necessary, all the other scripts were the terms in which the writers came into the project.


"The writers felt that it was fantastic to be working with Jimmy, to be learning from him, and it was great to see less experienced writers working with someone who is so skilled at his craft. He hasn't done anything like this before and he really wanted to do it."


"It is compelling drama," says producer, Ken Horn. "Because the stories are so simple people will identify with them. It's different to a soap in that they're not all going out with one another and meeting up in a pub, because that's how a soap has to work.


"Jimmy has such integrity as a writer and has never sold his soul commercially; even his mainstream dramas like Cracker and The Lakes are complex in their writing.


"That's what so different about Jimmy, he has always kept that high level to his work. He writes the script but doesn't get involved in casting. Yes we do run ideas by him, but his approach to the whole project is he is a writer and we're making it work for him.


"I have known Jimmy for over 20 years we worked together on Brookside. We used to fight as directors to work on Jimmy's scripts because they were always the best to direct, the most exciting to do.


"He always writes from the heart. His work is like a Greek tragedy, always full of surprises and emotion."


Sita Williams continues: "You could put ideas to Jimmy but they won't spark him unless there's an absolute emotional truth to it then he can write almost anything


"I have known Jimmy for at least 25 years. I turned him down when he was first a writer on Brookside!" recalls Williams.


"When Jimmy was writing on Brookside and, as a producer, I was setting up a new series for ITV back in 1982, I just thought 'I'm not sure about Jimmy McGovern', so I turned him down. That was the biggest mistake I ever made, and he's spent 25 years reminding about it!" laughs Williams.


"It was one of those projects which didn't do as well as Brookside. So it has taken 24 years for the two of us to finally agree to come together again; this project is our first major collaboration together."


John Yorke adds: "Twenty years ago I wrote to Jimmy while I was a student saying: 'Dear Jimmy, please write something for me', and 20 years later he wrote back and said 'yes'!


"This project is a result of discussions which I initially had with Granada Television (now ITV Productions) at Channel 4 when I was there, and Channel 4 allowed me to bring the project over to the BBC when I left.


"Jimmy is one of the great and unique talents of British television. This is very much a return to the territory that he does best. And in a way the territory where he started - simple stories about ordinary lives invested with dignity and passion that only Jimmy can bring to them."



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