Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chris Chibnall interview

BBC Writersroom has published an interview with Chris Chibnall, the lead writer of Torchwood.
The key to it is emotional reality. In terms of images, pictures, and concepts, you can go as far as you like as long as it's grounded in relatable human emotions for the team. The Torchwood quintet are the way in for the audience – they should be seeing absolutely extraordinary things, whether it's a time agent or a huge animal beyond comprehensible size, but everything comes back to how that affects the team and their reaction. If you or I were in that situation how would we feel?
Torchwood Captain Jack (John Barrowman) gets up close and personal with Captain John (James Marsters)in the new series of Torchwood (Photo: Adrian Rogers/BBC)

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  1.    TARQUIN kneels before MME. MEDIA.
    TARQUIN. Alas, I am not yet known – and but for your grace and favour, I fear I never shall be. Mademoiselle Media, the stage is not for me; it is too limitless; too boundless; to deft at expressing the complexities of the human heart.
    POLITIC CORRECT. You don’t like Shakespeare?
    TARQUIN. I hate the f**ker: he killed off modern drama.
    MME. MEDIA. The fault is not with him – but you.
    TARQUIN. I am no second Shakespeare. I was brought up by the box. I humbly put myself at your service.
    POLITIC CORRECT. Good man.
    MME. MEDIA. I say Politic, this is just the kind of writer we need. He lacks principle, writes to formula and makes no demand on the viewer; he is obedient yet self serving; literate yet cowardly and never quarrels over substance... Writer for Telly, do you solemnly swear to pander to the public taste.
    TARQUIN. I do...
    MME. MEDIA. To present people with escapism rather what is true and difficult...
    TARQUIN. I do...
    MME. MEDIA (She knights him with her staff). Then arise Writer for Telly. Go away and write me some sexed up historical adaptation – with lesbians.
    TARQUIN. Lesbians? What shall I adapt?
    MME. MEDIA. Anything you like. Jane Austen – she is always popular. Try “Mansfield Park”. Or what about Dickens? I always liked “The Old Curiosity Shop”. Any old writer will do. So long as they’re dead.
    POLITIC CORRECT (to self). Are yes, the merits of posthumous fame. The prestigious dead: you never hear them whining about “vision” and they never ask for royalties.
    MME. MEDIA. I leave it up to you Writer for Telly. Use your imagination. Just procure me a work of gross indecency.
    TARQUIN. How so?
    MME. MEDIA. On how you adapt silly! Present me some lurid tale, with lots of bodice ripping, bean flicking and leather strap-ons. And change the dialogue for God’s sake. It matters not if you hack up the plot either. Don’t worry about the details. Just make it pleasing to the eye with plenty of sexual brutishness. Change the title too: something catchy like “Sex and Sensuality”, “Perversion” or “Lust and Fiendship”. In fact, nobody need ever know that it was adapted at all.
    TARQUIN. How about “Lesbos Park”, or “The Old Sex Shop” ?
    MME. MEDIA. You see, you’ve got the gist already.
    TARQUIN. My lady – you receive me with far more favour than I ventured to expect. But folk of large estate and gentile rank are not my cup of tea – even though my cunning pen could tie them up as slaves for the Marquis de Sade. No, I prefer to sling my ink at more modern times. Scandalous tales, set in the present.
    MME. MEDIA. Very well. It’s Christmas – write me an episode of invention. A nativity set in the Isle of Dogs. Or Scrooge played by a City banker. Something the plebs can relate to.
    TARQUIN. Hmm... Well I’d like to make my mark with something original.
    MME. MEDIA. Dear boy, believe me, there’s nothing new under the sun. Stick to formula or sod off. A reworking of Cinderella perhaps? Or a comedy about life on a run down, drug-infested council estate... Hmm?
    TARQUIN. I can’t make up my mind until I’ve seen my pay check...
    POLITIC CORRECT. The impudent little tosser.
       She hands him a check.
    TARQUIN. As much as that!
    MME. MEDIA. There is nothing unnatural about making money.
    TARQUIN. But I could invent a whole new world with this!
    MME. MEDIA. Then turn your pen toward something grand. Science fiction perhaps. Sex with aliens. I tell you what... Write me a gay subtext to Dr. Who – with grown men waltzing through time, mixing their saliva.
    TARQUIN. I really don’t think –
    POLITIC CORRECT. You’re not homophobic are you? We can’t have that.
    TARQUIN. No politic, of course not, but there’s a time and place for everything.
    MME. MEDIA. Don’t worry. We’ll show it after the watershed – with lots of monsters and special effects. Now run along luvy. Kiss kiss. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. And remember: use your imagination – within reason of course... Off you go Writer for Telly... Shoo! shoo!
       Exit TARQUIN.
    POLITIC CORRECT (laughing). Oh! There goes another fool who’s just sold himself right down the illiterate river. Come his death, he’ll rue the day he ever opened a book! What mad folly is this thing called entertainment. Damnation to his adaptation. Poor plain Jane, how will she ever rest, with such scurrilous and constant exhumation.
    MME. MEDIA. Fool is he, who dares to present me with some tale of pastoral Nature! My attendants have severed all connection to that deflowered Bride; and neither art nor technology can take Her place. So let me instead, by virtue of whoredom, present you with my corrupt works. Their purpose is simple. But it would be imprudent of me to divulge the secrets of Mother State; and it would be dangerous for pilgrims to know them.

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