Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New interviews from BBC Writersroom

Three excellent new interviews from the BBC Writersroom:

1) Cheryl Taylor - the BBC's Controller, Comedy Commissioning.
Are there any priorities for you?

One of the big priorities which I've learned very quickly in this job, is that the minute you mention a priority you get a glut of things, so it quickly becomes too much. But I think blue collar comedy is something that the BBC have not really excelled at in recent years. I'd love more scripts that don't feel middle-class. For a while on BBC Two we had this bizarre spate of male middle-class menopause sitcoms like Saxondale and Fear, Stress and Anger. Actually Lead Balloon, which is coming back, sort of falls into that category too. It was all male, it was all middle class, it was all angsty stuff and it felt like a real rut actually. So yes, blue collar and more female comedy, more diverse comedy of every sort really.
2) Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Sebastian Baczkiewicz talk about writing for radio.
How do you feel about receiving notes?

Sebastian: Certainly with radio you have a relationship of trust with your producer. They're going to say things you sort-of-know, you just need someone else to say it as well.

And often that's a good part of the process of going away again and reworking it. So I welcome that other eye. I think it usually helps. Cos if you trust they're on your side, they are. I've worked once in my life with somebody I didn't really trust and the results were pretty disastrous, but that wasn't radio.

Rebecca: I think the scariest thing is giving it in initially and just thinking do they like it or not, does it work in any form. And if they say they like it, that's a relief.

I recently did a play with Jessica Dromgoole and she said "I love it. I don't think it needs any changing". And I was like "This is great. I've got the next month free!" And she said "But it's half the length it should be." Which is much worse news than "It's double the length it should be."

I think any notes that excite you are good notes. The hardest thing to know is what is working and what is not. But if someone says "We'll take this monologue away" and you feel like a lioness defending her cub then you know it's OK.
3) Tony Basgallop talks about writing Worried About The Boy.
You recently wrote Hughie Green, Most Sincerely for BBC 4. Are you particularly interested in biopics? What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing them?

I have a real difficulty in narrowing down ideas, so biographies help with that. They limit you to just the facts, and the stuff you can legally get away with. I've done the dead and I've done the living: John Prescott, the Apollo 11 astronauts, Hughie Green, Scott of the Antarctic... I really enjoy the challenge because it always seems impossible when you start out. Then you hit a point where the voice kicks in, and suddenly you're ok with it. You're walking and talking and thinking like that person. I hate the research because that involves reading, and I'm not particularly good at reading. So I buy audio books when I can. I get the facts in the end. I get as close to the person as I possibly can. There always seems to be an aspect in these people's lives that surprises me. When I've finished, I feel like I know them.

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