Friday, October 29, 2004

Creative Commons

"Creative Commons", a new way of offering limited copyright exemptions for non-commercial use is gaining ground, reports The Guardian.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

NaNoWriMo starts on Monday...
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over talent and craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and -- when the thing is done -- the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2003, we had about 25,000 participants. Over 3500 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
You could even blog your novel as you write it. is a interesting site for anyone interested in feature films. Scripts are analaysed and discussed with industry experts including Linda Seger.

All the screenwriting books you could ever need

And probably more.

Warning: if you hate "how to" screenwriting books do not visit this Amazon list.

Yorke set for BBC return

There is increasing speculation that John Yorke is set to leave Channel 4 to run continuing series for the BBC, reports Media Guardian (free registration required). His return - he was previously executive producer of EastEnders - is likely to come as part of a major re-organisation.
The BBC drama department - and other areas of the corporation's TV commissioning and production operation - face the biggest restructure since the John Birt era in the late 90s, when many long serving corporation programme-makers left to join the independent sector.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Children's BAFTAS

Nominations have been announced for the Children's BAFTA awards, to be presented on 28 November.

In the animation category the nominees are The Blue Dragon, Brush Head, Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids and Metalheads.

For pre-school animation the nominees are The Koala Brothers, Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam and Yoko! Jakamoto! Toto!

Drama nominations are Bus Life: Bad Hair Day, Featherboy, My Parents Are Aliens and Tracey Beaker: The Movie of Me.

School drama nominations are The Illustrated Mum, I'm A Juvenile Delinquent Jail Me!, The Personal History of Charles Dickens and A Flicker At The Fairground.

George S Kaufman

Woody Allen's tribute to a great American comedy writer, in the New York Times.
Is there any better opening line to delineate a character and foreshadow a promisingly delectable situation than the one delivered by Sheridan Whiteside, The Man Who Came to Dinner? The worthy small-town folk fuss nervously, hoping to please the great public figure forced to convalesce in their honored midst. Whiteside, entering in a wheelchair, surveys his adulating hosts and says, ''I may vomit.''

Great plays are written, not re-written

A strong defence of writers from theatre director Dominic Dromgoole in The Guardian.

He argues that contrary to the prevailing culture of re-writing and dramaturg-led development, great plays are almost always written in days or weeks.
You can't teach playwriting. You can work in the theatre, preferably as an actor. And you can live a rich life - whoring, drinking, hurting, being hurt. They might help you towards a play. Preparing for a scheduled discussion on narrative structure will give you nothing but brainache and an inferiority complex.

Improv on ITV

In a rare sign of boldness in ITV comedy commissioning, the network is making a pilot for Dream Date, an improvised stand-up show in which a group of comedians act out the ups and downs of a fictional relationship between two single audience members who have not met before.

As Media Guardian (free registration required) reports, ITV controller of comedy Sioned Wiliam commissioned the pilot after seeing the improv show at the Latchmere pub in Battersea, south London.

National Television Awards

The Bill was voted most popular drama at the annual National Television Awards last night.

Coronation Street was names most popular serial drama.

The results were based on more than one million public votes cast via the post office, Heat magazine, the Sun newspaper, telephone and email.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Interactive TV

The prospects for more interactive TV drama have been boosted by £5m funding from the EU for a new initiative to develop interactive technology, reports BBC News.
New Media for a New Millennium (NM2) will have as its endgame the development of a completely new media genre, which will allow audiences to create their own media worlds based on their specific interests or tastes.

Booker insight

There's an enjoyable insight into the life of a Booker judge, by Fiammetta Rocco in The Economist.
Reading 132 books in 147 days is like taking a course in kick-boxing; you quickly lose any flabby concentration and wishy-washy standards, becoming fitter and leaner and more demanding. In the process, you learn a great deal about why so many novels—even well written, carefully crafted novels as so many of those submitted were—are ultimately pointless.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Samuel West takes over in Sheffield

Actor and director Samuel West has been appointed as Michael Grandage’s successor at Sheffield Theatres, reports The Stage.

The Crucible, Lyceum and Studio Theatres which make up the group are the largest theatre complex outside London.

Sarah Kane

Five years after her suicide at the age of 28, Sarah Kane is one of Europe's most performed playwrights, writes Jess McKinley in the New York Times.
Whether she would have anticipated her popularity or not, what is certain is that Ms. Kane's determination to kill herself was evidently matched by a desire to see her work live: among her possessions, she left behind definitive versions of each of her five plays (hard copies and on disk), including "Psychosis" which she had only just finished, and instructions to her agent to make sure her plays got out there.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Are you committed to a career in playwriting? Fancy being given access to industry professionals, networks and producing companies? writernet, the UK's support organisation for dramatic writers, in association with Reading Borough Council are seeking four UK-based culturally diverse writers for the privilege.
Full details are on the writernet website.

(For anyone wondering, my dictionary defines hydroponics as "The technique of growing plants without soil, in beds of sand, gravel etc, flooded with nutrient solution". See what they've done there?)

Silver Street writer in residence

BBC writersroom and Silver Street are looking to place a writer in residence for six months from January '05, or sooner if available.

Silverstreet is the new daily ten-minute radio soap on the Asian Network. The successful writer will be given a bursary of up to £6,000, and will work in BBC Birmingham for two days a week.

Full details are on the BBC writersroom website.

All change at BBC drama

With top producer Gareth Neame set to leave, and John Yorke expected to return, it's all change at BBC TV drama HQ, reports Media Guardian (free registration required). All this in the wake of Mal Young's announcement that he will leave his job as Controller of Continuing Series at the end of the year.
Mr Yorke is understood to have held talks with BBC executives about returning to TV Centre. But it is not clear if he would be a direct replacement for Mr Young - who oversees shows including EastEnders, Casualty and Silent Witness - or take on slightly different responsibilities in the BBC drama department.

The BBC is thought to be considering splitting Mr Young's job, with one executive taking responsibility for the four year-round series and serials - EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City and daytime soap Doctors.

That would mean a second executive would oversee the long-running series Mr Young was responsible for, including Silent Witness, Judge John Deed and Waking the Dead.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

UK Writer (Top 10 Films)

More feedback from the first issue of the Writers' Guild magazine, UK Writer. This time on the subject of Members' Top 10 films, which were:
1. Citizen Kane
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Some Like It Hot
4. Lawrence of Arabia
5. The Ladykillers (original version)
6. Witness
7. Memento
8. Apocalypse Now
9. The Searchers
10. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Ian Craine writes:
Oh dear dear. Do I really belong to an organisation whose members think that Pulp Fiction is the second best movie of all time. I almost choked on my porridge. The best thing about Pulp Fiction is that it gave a very good actor, Samuel L. Jackson, the opportunity to produce and star in that wonderful and neglected little masterpiece Eve's Bayou.

Apart from Pulp Fiction I can respect (in some cases grudgingly) the entries though I think there are better films that have been neglected. Memento and Witness but no Vertigo? Oh dear again.

Is this restricted to English language films? I don't expect readers to nominate my favourite "foreign" film ( Jean Pierre Melville's reverie on the Resistance L'Armee des Ombres with a bravura performance from Lino Ventura) but I do question a list that omits Tokyo Story.

I have paid my dues and watched Citizen Kane- I don't intend to see it again. Touch of Evil is a more rewarding film. For a British film I would choose Kes over Lawrence of Arabia or The Ladykillers though both are excellent films. I have a lot of time for Apocalypse Now and 2001 but these days I find The Conversation and Bladerunner more interesting. To me Memento hoists itself on the petard of its limiting givens and I much prefer Mulholland Drive, which I think may be a modern masterpiece.

I love Westerns but I no longer buy The Searchers being the best of the genre. Ford and Wayne had to me a limited view of the world and were incapable of making truly great work. Once Upon a Time in the West raised the bar, Leone's vision, Morricone's haunting score, wonderful performances particularly from Cardinale and Robards. And I was deeply impressed by a very late addition to the canon- Ang Lee's superb Ride with the Devil.

But I do agree on Some Like it Hot.
Comments? Your own top 10?

Something's Gotta Give screenplay

The latest free screenplay download from the Screenwriter's Store is Something's Gotta Give by Nancy Myers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

BBC "should do more for British films"

The BBC says it should look at whether it is doing enough to support the UK film industry, reports BBC News.
At a select committee hearing in the House of Commons on Tuesday, the BBC said it was time to "rebalance" the schedule in favour of UK films.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said the corporation should also think about giving more money to the industry.

The UK Film Council welcomed the BBC's comments, but said any improvements were "long overdue".

Interactive radio drama

But not as you know it. From Wired News:
For those who obsessively play I Love Bees, the point is to take part in the creation and distribution of the radio drama. To do so, players log onto the game's website each week to find the latest clues and a list of the pay phones that will be called.
Only in America?
Six main characters from the year 2552 prepare for a great war in the storyline. Each time a player correctly answers a pay-phone question, he or she is treated to 30 seconds of new material. Over the course of the game, the plot unfolds, revealing a menacing alien army that threatens 26th-century Earth and only intervention from the past can help.

The most exciting element of the game for some players is the possibility that they will get one of the rare live calls in which the drama's actors talk to whoever answers the phone and then incorporate the conversation into the show itself.

BBC digital reviews

The Government has publised major reviews of the BBC's digital television and radio provision.

The headlines have been taken by the criticism of BBC 3 and BBC 4, but if you've got the time and the inclination there's a whole lot more to read about.

The BBC has until the end of November to make its response.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Women on top at the BBC

Jana Bennett and Lorraine Heggessey, director of television at the BBC and controller of BBC1 respectively, are profiled in Media Guardian (free registration required).

Heggessey mounts a passionate defence of BBC drama.
"Of course nothing's perfect but if you take drama, did nobody see May 33rd, a highly authored piece about an extremely rare psychiatric condition; didn't they see England Expects, which was about a man who'd belonged to the far right? Didn't they see Holy Cross, about the school in Belfast; didn't they see Dirty War? We've done a lot of hard-hitting single dramas and we've also done some successful popular drama. And everybody acts as if successful popular drama is easy, it's actually the most difficult thing to do, to get people coming back week after week after week after week. To actually have a renaissance of drama on BBC1 in such a crowded market has been a tremendous achievement."

Jacqueline Wilson

Britain's most-borrowed author is interviewed by Christina Patterson in The Indpendent.
Jacqueline Wilson's most recent book-signing lasted five hours. That's par for the course for a writer who recently overtook Catherine Cookson as the most borrowed author from public libraries in this country and who had four titles in the top 100 in the BBC's Big Read. She has sold more than 15 million copies of her books and looks set to sell many more. Not bad for a girl from a council estate in Kingston, Surrey, who started off in teenage magazines.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Waterstone's boost for self-publishers

Waterstone's is giving independent publishers and self-published authors a greater opportunity to have their books stocked by the chain, with the appointment of an Independent Publisher Coordinator, reports Publishing News.
Peter Saxton, formerly the company’s Bibliographic Editor, who started his career as a bookseller at Waterstone’s Kingston, will provide a “product channel” for small and independent publishers and self-published authors, and will also offer advice and guidance on how best to publish their books.

Landmark US copyright ruling

A landmark court ruling in America has suggested that producers could be entering into an implied contract with writers even by hearing a pitch or reading a script, reports the New York Times (free registration required).
The judgement follows a lawsuit filed in 1999. Jeff Grosso, a freelance magazine writer and high-stakes poker player, contended that Miramax had stolen his original script "The Shell Game," which he wrote in 1995. Mr. Grosso sent an unsolicited copy of the script to a production company that had offices in the same TriBeCa building as Miramax and a had first-look deal with the company. Later, he came to believe that many of its plot and character ideas had been folded into "Rounders," which starred Matt Damon.
It's still not entirely clear what the implications of the judgement will be.
For the last month, Hollywood legal circles have been puzzling over the decision, which declares that movie and television executives enter an implied contract every time they read a script or hear a pitch. The ruling, if it stands, appears to strengthen the position of writers. But industry watchers say it may also put a new chill on the already frosty business of selling ideas, by forcing studios and networks to spell out terms or seek legal waivers before they read or listen to a word.

Tony Jordan hits America

EastEnders veteran scriptwriter, Tony Jordan, is developing a soap for American TV, reports Media Guardian (free registration required).

He's working with 19 TV, the company that Mal Young will be joining when he leaves the BBC at the end of the year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

UK Writer (Paul Abbott)

Thanks for all the kind words about the first edition of UK Writer magazine. (If you're not a Writers' Guild member you'll have no idea what I'm talking about. So join.)

Many people seem to have enjoyed the interview with Paul Abbott, including one excitable gentleman who said: "What an opener - an interview with Paul Abbott. Some people have heroes such as John Lennon, mother Theresa or Martin Luther King. Mine is the Abbott."

I think he'd better remain nameless.

Sher slams literary elite

Sir Anthony Sher is giving up novel writing because he simply cannot get noticed, reports The Independent.
"The literary world is a sort of club that lets some people in and some not," he complained, "and for some reason I wasn't let in. The way that they let you know you're not going to be let in is they don't review your book. Or they review it so slowly it dies at birth and the publishers don't want to publish your books any more."
If a famous playwright like Sher can't get reviews, what hope is there for the rest of us?!

Universities are destroying the novel

DJ Taylor in The Guardian argues that "the boom in academic writing courses has led to a glut of soulless novels".
Leaving aside a few shining heroes such as Malcolm Bradbury, what the academy has done for English literature in the past two or three decades could be summarised on the back of a small postcard. The more that literature in this country becomes the exclusive province of the university system, the worse it will be for all of us.

Matthew Friday's last post

On 5 October Matthew Friday's first play, Che Guevara's Motorbike or How I Found My Father, which he is also directing, opened at The Rosemary Branch in London. Many of you will have read the background on the Writers' Guild website and followed his trials and tribulations here each week. This is his final diary entry.

Week 7

The hardest week of my life has passed and what I hope will be one of the easiest is just about to start.

The first week of our run at the Rosemary Branch was an incredible experience, filled with more highs and lows than a sea in a gale force storm. I don't have the space to detail it all here. As I've said before, come along and you can find out from me and the actors. But here's a brief summary.

Well, on the whole the audience has enjoyed the show. Some of them really enjoyed it and they told us so. Some love the fast, frenetic pace, others find it tiring. Some totally accept - for comedic purposes - the situation and the twists in the plots, others find it implausible. Most people thought the play was funny. Some laughed more than others. My friend Ralph Noland roared with laughter.

We've had much more than our fair share of criticism. I'm secretly furious that no one is giving me any credit for this, my debut play. Yes, I admit that being a debut playwright and theatre director at the same time is probably taking on too much. (I have also co-produced it and I do the lights and sound every night.) But still, that's the reality in the Fringe. There's no money to pay anyone.

I have had my first taste of critics at the sharp and spiteful end. The New Camden Journal reviewer, Richard Hodkinson is right to have criticisms of the play. It's a debut play and like all debut plays ever written, it has numerous problems. However, I want to point something out. Among the many things Richard Hodkinson disliked was the plot. He said he couldn't follow it.

Ralph Nolan did. In fact he thoroughly enjoyed the whole play.

Ralph Noland is completely blind.

I have many more examples of people who enjoyed the play, among them elderly people with hearing problems and teenagers who would normally be bored by the theatre.

So, it was a tough week. I am hoping that audiences are not put off by the review. We need a lot more or we'll go into debt. We're not letting oddly harsh reviews put us off. We've got two glorious weeks ahead of us.

Fingers crossed. Or whatever you do in Theatreland.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

American screenwriter talks

Talks between the Writers' Guild of America (west) and the employers continue...

The writers are trying to get some of the same benefits recently secured by directors.
Your Negotiating Committee, our staff and our consultants have been studying the DGA deal carefully. Both the companies and the various unions take advantage of pattern bargaining (or are disadvantaged by it, depending on the circumstances), so if history is a guide, the DGA contract will have profound implications for our own.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Sue Townsend

Robert Hanks interviews novelist Sue Townsend in The Independent.
For the last year she has been in a wheelchair, a consequence of a condition called Charcot's joint, in which the bones of the foot crumble. In her case, it is a complication of diabetes (she was diagnosed as diabetic in the mid-1980s, after a heart attack). But she looked it up and "I wasn't surprised to find out that this affliction is shared by lepers and people with syphilis. I kind of toyed with the idea of starting a club and seeing who turned up." She can still get up and down stairs, but "I can't walk with any grace. I can't walk far without swooning around the place."
Townsend's latest and possible last book, Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, has just been published.

Do British films have writers?

A big splash on the front of the Observer's Review section yesterday headed Brit flick fever declared that:
British movie-making is on a roll. From edgy revenge tragedies set in the Midlands to Bollywood marriages made in Bath, there is an unfashionable optimism about our film industry. We bring together 25 of the actors, directors and producers who are playing the leading roles in our screen revival.
Good news, of course. But do these films have writers?

There are none in their list apart from Annie Griffin, and that's because she's a writer-director.

UK Writer (The Ladykillers)

The Guild's new quarterly magazine was distributed to members last week. We are hoping to carry correspondence on this blog. Here's the first contribution from Tania Rose.
I opened my copy of the new (very attractive) version of the Bulletin this morning and amost immediately found the piece on the results of the election for the 'top 10 films of all time' and my late husband's film The Ladykillers (original version) voted as one of them.

I cannot resist writing this letter in case any other writers are interested.

Bill dreamed the film, literally. He woke me up one night and told me he had had this dream and he wanted to tell it to me in case he forgot it.

The basic plot can be told in about 2 sentences, and I was awake enough to realise that it was one in a million.

He went back to sleep and I sat up in bed going over and over it in my head for ages because I had nothing to write with and I didn't want to go and get pencil and paper in case I woke the baby.

When he woke up next morning he had forgotten it. I tell you this because I wonder so much how many other examples there may be of creative dreaming of this nature.
Feel free to add comments, or email your own letters c/o the Guild office.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Elfriede Jelinek has won the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Austrian novelist, considered by some to be a surprise winner of the $1.36 million prize, was praised for her "musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clich├ęs and their subjugating power".

BBC News has an interesting profile.

SCENE London 2004

SCENE London 27-30 October is The Script Factory's annual events programme as part of The Times bfi London Film Festival.

There's loads going on including previews, discussions and masterclasses from the likes of Julian Fellowes, Danny Boyle and Mike Leigh.

Kathleen Jamie wins Forward Prize

Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie has won the £10,000 Forward Prize for poetry with her collection The Tree House, reports BBC News.

The award for best first collection went to 29-year-old Leontia Flynn, from Fife, for her "strikingly original" debut These Days.

Daljit Nagra, from west London, won the prize for best single poem with Look We Have Coming To Dover!

New playwrights wanted for big spaces

Maddy Costa in The Guardian asks if new writers are being conditioned to keep their work small scale.
The real culprit, though, isn't a lack of ambition, but funding. Although the injection of £25m by the Arts Council into theatres for 2003-6 has done much to inspire confidence in artistic directors, the feeling pervades that they are afraid to programme new writing because it won't achieve the box-office returns necessary to balance the books. What has arisen, says [Nick] Starr (executive director at the National Theatre), is "a spirit of self-denying caution".

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Top agencies merge

Two top literary agencies, the Rod Hall Agency and Alan Brodie Representation, have announced that they will merge, creating what will possibly be the largest independent literary agency in the country, reports The Stage.

The same report mentions that a memorial service to remember Rod Hall, who was killed earlier this year, will be held on 15 October. And an award for new writing is being created in Rod Hall's name.

Mathew Friday's diary (6)

On 5 October Matthew Friday's first play, Che Guevara's Motorbike or How I Found My Father, which he is also directing, will open at The Rosemary Branch in London. You can read the background on the Writers' Guild website and follow his trials and tribulations here each week.

Week 6

The last week and we're not ready.

Today was not a great rehearsal day. The run-through was lack-lustre and I was worried that the actors had not yet managed to get 'off book' - the theatrical term which means they know their lines.

This is not to say they're not working hard. We all are. It's extremely hard working on a play on the Fringe, without any money and with everyone having to go their jobs to pay the bills. It's about as tough as it gets. We all want the play to be at its best for opening night next Tuesday.

I had to reassure the Artistic Director that we would be ready and fit to perform. I then had a good chat with all the actors. In talked to them about the play, their parts, any worries they might have. I needed their advice about how to put the fun and energy into play and they gave me the collective benefits of years of theatre acting.

The hardest day so far. In coming to the theatre I knew that we had to work hard to get the play into the state it needs to be on Tuesday. Undoubtedly, a tough call. We're running out of time, lines are still not learned, the Artistic Director is worried, I'm beginning to panic.

Deep breathing. Deep breathing. You can cope.

So, it was time to pull out the theatrical big guns. We did three exhausting run-throughs today. The first one we did with fun in mind. I chose a famous play, film or character to act each scene in the style of. So, Act 1, Scene 3 was performed in the style of His Girl Friday. Act 3, Scene 1 was done in the style of The Muppets. It sounds bizarre, but it’s a good way of injecting some fun into the play. For the most part if worked, though the second half slowed down and the fun turned into hard work.

The second version of the play we did imagining the performance was in the Roman Coliseum. This meant big performances projected to an audience of ten thousand people, a long way away. If the acting wasn't good enough, the actors were to be thrown to the lions.

The second run through had as many problems as the first, only in different and sometimes new positions. I was beginning to get the sinking feeling only associated with very large ships. But luckily we did not hit a creative iceberg. We surged on with the third run-through which went, I am very relieved to say, well. Well enough.

The performances were bigger, the interactions sharper, the energy higher. The actors are going into the theatre tomorrow to run the play and work on their lines while I'm at work. I'm happy to have a break and let them bond without me heckling them from the light/sound booth.

Two runs this morning. I wish I could say the play was ready for Tuesday. I should be able to say the play is ready. But it's not. We need more time and run-throughs. Well, we can squeeze a maximum of four more in if we're lucky and all goes well.
Tomorrow we are not rehearsing. We're getting into the theatre after the last show of Making Dickie Happy to begin work on our set. I know some of the actors need more time. I know some of the actors just want to get on with it. I feel both. We have what we have: two days to go.

It's late and I am exhausted. Too much has happened over the last tow days to detail here. The word limit and the limit of my energy will cut it off short. If anyone wants to know about the extreme highs and lows of theatre work, hours before the show is going ahead, than come and see the play and I'll fill in all the details.
Just today there have been more highs, lows, tantrums, heavy lifting, hard critique and brutal honesty than I want in a year.

Yes, we've had a bad day. A bad Dress Rehearsal. Theatre lore says a bad Dress Rehearsal can make for a great performance, because it gives everyone - the director included - a sharp kick up the rear.

'Sharp' is the operative word. We need to sharpen up this play. Turn it from a pleasant and highly useable butter knife into a deeply cutting and lasting meat clever. On the plus side, ten hours of collective work on the set has made it look great. Paul created a wonderful light for the poster of 'Che Guevara' poster. And the bookings are going nicely. I have a number of friends to thank for that. No room here. I will do it personally.

In fact, both room and time have run out. I hope you have enjoyed this round-up of our work over the last few weeks. There has been more hard work from my actors than I can properly detail here. I hope you can come and see it.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Brits dominate International Emmys

British dramas dominate the list of nominations for International Emmy Awards, announced today.

In the Children and Young People category there is a nomination for The Illustrated Mum, written by Debbie Isitt and based on the book by Jacqueline Wilson.

In the TV Movie/Mini-Series category there were nominations for Henry VIII (written by Peter Morgan), Canterbury Tales (episodes written by Tony Marchant, Peter Bowker, Tony Grounds, Sally Wainwright, Avie Luthra and Olivia Hetreed) and The Deal (written by Peter Morgan).

In the Drama Series category there were nominations for Shameless (written by Paul Abbott) and Waking the Dead (created by Barbara Machin).

The Awards will be presented in New York City on 22 November.

Theatres face disability action

Actor and Thalidomide campaigner Mat Fraser has warned it may take a "flood of court cases" to make all theatres obey new laws on disabled access, reports the BBC.

Under new Disability Act legislation, businesses (including theatres) are required to make "reasonable adjustments" for disabled staff and customers.
He [Fraser] fears some of the older theatres in London and other cities are "going to have to be sued" before they make the changes needed.

"That's the way it is," he said. "Let the carnage begin and hopefully in two years' time we might be able to go to the theatre."

A rival for the BBC?

Last week media regulator Ofcom produced a surprise recommendation that there should be a new public service broadcaster to rival the BBC.

In MediaGuardian (free registration required) Ofcom Chief Executive, Stephen Carter, defends the idea.
We favour competition, because it produces new ideas and innovation. So we could have recommended a commission which would decide, programme by programme, what to fund in the existing broadcasters. But such "arts councils of the air" have a poor pedigree when they have been tried elsewhere. In practice a high proportion of the budget goes on bureaucracy; also, designing creative output via not just one committee (the broadcaster's own management) but two (the arts council of the air) is not a recipe for great content.

So, instead Ofcom is proposing a single, not-for profit, creative organisation - a public service publisher - that would be responsible for the whole process of commissioning, overseeing and distributing public service content from top to tail; initially mainly on digital television but increasingly on other new media platforms such as broadband servers and 3G mobiles.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Granta anniversary

Granta, the leading magazine for new writing, is 25-years old.

In MediaGuardian (free registration required), Editor Ian Jack looks back to its origins and points out that writers are not the only ones who get rejected, it happens to editors too.

In 1979 Kingsley Amis responded to an invitation to write for Granta by saying "Thank you for your letter. I am afraid you are almost certain to be unable to afford me. Anyway, I will proceed on that assumption."