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A day spent producing (and directing) The Archers

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Rosemary Watts Rosemary Watts 10:40, Thursday, 26 November 2009


A straight hit into studio today after not having been in the office for a week, all a bit of a shock and I gave myself an hour and a half to get into work - I only live 12 miles away! Just as well I did, the traffic is always heavy on a Monday morning, and I got in with 20 minutes to spare; time to get a cup of tea and find out what's been going on since I've been away. It was a great start though with some lovely scenes between Lilian and Peggy, and later some feisty scenes with Pip and David, nice to see her finally spreading her wings.

It's important to keep my eye on the ball, as I'm doing episodes from different weeks; four from Carole Solazzo in week 1 and then two from Mary Cutler in week 3 of our recording month. There's no time for a break, fortunately there are plenty of chocolate biscuits to keep the energy up. We are also lucky enough to have Julie Cook with us on work experience, and between helping us do the scene timings she gets us all a cup of tea! With two more episodes in the afternoon it was a long day, and it was great to finally arrive home.

Another couple of episodes on Tuesday morning and I hand over to my colleague, Kate Oates, who is directing this afternoon and tomorrow. That just leaves me to catch up on storylining queries. Just before I went on leave I was liaising with a research contact in the prison service; one of the writers wanted to know some details about visiting times in open prisons, so that will need chasing up this afternoon. Then it's heads down on the writers' synopses for the last four weeks of the double-up. The synopses have already been edited by Vanessa Whitburn (Editor) and Julie Beckett (Senior Producer); I need to go through them as well to ascertain what the 'jump off' points are for each story and then work on the potential storyline for the next four weeks.

It's quite a complicated business, as it includes a combination of research lines, longterm storylines, programme anniversaries, events that are happening in the real world, and most importantly, liaising with our Agricultural Story Editor Graham Harvey - a mine of information and all of it good! The 'pickups meeting' is on Friday morning, and we will be discussing storylines which will be broadcast running up to Easter 2010 - the year goes even quicker when you work here!

Nothing discussed at this meeting is set in stone though, Graham and I continue to work on the storylines over the next few weeks, and our next full script meeting is early in the new year, when the writers will have a chance to look at the script pack and discuss where we want to go with the programme. There's never a minute to spare in The Archers, and very little time to look back at what you've directed and think - 'yeah - that was ok;' as soon as one task is complete you're straight on to the next. It's a good job we work in a team.

Rosemary Watts is a producer on The Archers


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