Monday, November 29, 2004

BBC Writersroom

If you haven't discovered it yet, the BBC Writersroom is an excellent resource, particularly for writers looking to get their first commissions with the BBC.

The site tells you all you need to know about submitting scripts and even has a specially written formatting programme, Scriptsmart, that you can download for free.

There are also regular interviews with writers and producers in the Insight section - well worth checking out.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Mary Poppins

One of the most eagerly anticipated musicals of recent years opens in London this month, and, as The Oberserver reports, it's been a 25-year job to bring PL Travers's Mary Poppins to the stage.

The Observer also has an interview with Julian Fellowes who wrote the book for the musical.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Arthur Hailey dies

Best-selling novelist Arthur Hailey has died at the age of 84, reports BBC News.
Airport (1968) arguably remains Hailey's best-loved work and prompted the disaster movie genre. The thriller follows events in the sky, and on the ground at a snow-logged airport, when a terrorist boards an airplane with a bomb.

The book was adapted into a hit film in 1970, starring Burt Lancaster as the harassed airport manager and Dean Martin as a womanising pilot, alongside Jean Seberg and Jacqueline Bisset.

Making movies for all ages

The phenomenon of the family movie, examined by A.O. Scott in the New York Times.
As far as my eye could see, every adult in that queue was, like me, accompanied by at least one child. Now, the box-office tallies for movies like "Finding Nemo," "Shrek 2" and "The Incredibles" suggest that a lot of tickets are being sold to unsupervised grownups, but they also suggest that intergenerational moviegoing has become not just a common but a normative cultural experience.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

John Whiting Award

The Arts Council is seeking entries for the 38th John Whiting Award, designed to help further the careers and enhance the reputations of British playwrights and to draw to public attention the importance of writers in contemporary theatre.

Unfortunately there is no information on the Arts Council website, so the following is taken from the BBC Writersroom.

The brief

A Panel of independent judges will take the decision to reward a writer whose play, in the judges' opinion, satisfies the following description:
- a play in which the writing is of special quality
- a play of relevance and importance to contemporary life
- a play of potential value to British theatre

The judges do not have regard to whether or not the play has received a production, or is likely to receive a production or publication. It must, however, have been written during the years 2002 and/or 2003. The judges reserve the right to advise the Arts Council that no script meets the required standards of the award and that therefore the Award should not be made.

The prize

The value of the award is £6,000. The judges' decision is final.


Any writer is eligible to apply if they have had one of the following in the calendar years 2003 or 2004:
- An offer of an award under the Arts Council
- A commission from one of those theatre companies in receipt of annual or revenue subsidy from the Arts Council
- A premiere production by a theatre company in receipt of annual subsidy from the Arts Council

No writer who has previously won the award may reapply, and no play that has previously been submitted for the Award is eligible. A play submitted for consideration must be an original work. Translations are not eligible.

How to apply

Contact the Arts Council Theatre Writing Section on 020 7973 6480 and an application form will be sent to you.

Return the form, along with three copies of the script you are entering and a copy of your CV, to the Arts Council no later than 10 January 2005.

The winner will be announced in October 2005.

Playwrights' Studio, Scotland

The Playwrights' Studio, Scotland has launched Evolve, a new development programme for non-produced and aspiring playwrights at the very start of their playwriting career. The programme is designed to give new writers their first professional development, to hone their skills and cultivate their voice.

Slightly confusingly, the take part in the Evolve programme you have to enter the Ignite competition. All the details are on their website.

Fears for the Old Vic

While most people have hailed Kevin Spacey as the saviour of the Old Vic, veteran director Alan Strachan, writing in The Independent, is worried that the theatre might be heading in the wrong direction.
That atmosphere of casual but friendly welcome, which used to stamp the Old Vic's character, seems to have changed utterly. Front-of-house and bar staff are now all gussied up in sombre formal black and seem to share a house-style manner of impersonal - not to say chilly - hauteur. Certainly it is one of the factors which fail to bear out the claim - palpably sincere, though it may be - by the company's producer, David Liddiment (an ex-television executive who "discovered" Cloaca) that: "We are trying to live up to the values of this building".

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Lit Idol 2005

The London Book Fair has launched its second Lit Idol competition, inviting entrants to submit the opening 10,000 words of a crime/thriller novel that has the potential to be "the next big quality commercial bestseller".

Short-listed writers will have the chance to pitch their books to a panel at the Book Fair.

The closing date for entries is 14 January 2005. The bad news is that there is a £12 entrance fee.

Philip Pullman on adaptations

Philip Pullman, writing in The Guardian, explains why he enjoys stage adaptions of his work.
...when everything is working well, something mysterious happens between an audience and a play that isn't just the sum of the component parts. It can spring from the obviously fantastical and from the most minutely described realism: Rostand makes it happen, and so does Shaw. It happens with original plays, and it happens with adaptations. But something happens, and everything is transformed. We could use a scientific term like emergence for this process, or we could use an older word and call it sorcery; but whatever we call it, there's no point in trying to explain it to those who insist on a functional justification for everything, those who can only see value in an activity if it brings in money from tourists, or helps children with their GCSEs. They'll never understand. You have to find some other sort of language if you want to convince them.

But that strange and inexplicable thing is what the theatre is for. That's why we need it.

Dennis Potter at Christmas

While the BBC trumpets the news that it will be screening the first Harry Potter film this Christmas, the really exciting prospect for TV drama lovers is that the festive schedules will include an Arena documentary about Dennis Potter, and a selection of his plays on BBC Four.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Brits dominate International Emmys

It was a good night for British programmes at the International Emmy Awards in New York yesterday.

Among the winners were:
- Henry VIII (written by Peter Morgan)
- Waking The Dead (series created by Barbara Machin)
- The Illustrated Mum (written by Debbie Isitt and based on the book by Jacqueline Wilson)

Update: The writer of one of the two selected episodes of Waking The Dead was Guild member Stephen Davis. (Sadly, no mention of the episode writers in any of the publicity - including from the BBC.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

Screentalk magazine

You can now download back issues of the American Screentalk magazine.

The Screentalk website also has an excellent collection of screenplays to download, including a selection of Hitchcock films.

Writing animation - Steven Banks

Steven Banks and Robert and Michelle Lamoreaux, three of America's leading writers for animation discuss their work in an interview with Denis Faye for the Writers Guild of America, west.
What's the difference between writing for animation and writing for live-action?

ML - If you're comparing it to sitcom writing, for example, it's harder. The structure of the writing is harder, like a little feature. You're not just writing dialog, you're writing direction, you're almost like a writer and director. It's a lot closer to hour drama or screenwriting, I'd say.

Tinniswood Award

The Writers’ Guild and Society of Authors have joined forces to create an award in memory of Peter Tinniswood who died last year.

The first Tinniswood Award ceremony took place at the Foreign Press Association in London on 18 November 2004 with members of the Tinniswood family in attendance.

The award, for Best Radio Drama, went to Christopher William Hill for his script, ‘Killing Maestros’. He was nominated by his producer at the BBC, Liz Webb. The award was presented by Richard Eyre.

Radio on demand

Much of BBC Radio's content is now available online for a week after broadcast, and new figures published in Media Guardian (free registration required) show that the popularity of the service is growing.

The most popular programme so far has been the new series of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (written by Douglas Adams)with 653,636 "on demand" listeners. Drama claims second place in the list as well, with the Archers claiming 382,726 listeners. The Afternoon Play was the next most popular drama, in ninth place with 147,317 listeners.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Michaels Frayn and Blakemore

Democracy, Michael Frayn's most recent play, has opened to rave reviews in America. In an interview with the New York Times he talks about his long-standing working relationship with director Michael Blakemore.
How would the two men describe their long theatrical run and 35-year friendship? "A light charming comedy," responds Mr. Blakemore, elegant and well pressed in a shirt and jacket. "A buddy movie," says the slightly rumpled and scholarly Mr. Frayn.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Some writers get very touchy about actors improvising away from the script, but there are times when no one can argue with the results.

A prime example, writes Roger Clarke in The Independent, came with The Raiders Of The Lost Ark, written by George Lucas, Philip Kaufman and Lawrence Kasdan.
In one of the most famous scenes in the movie, an assassin dressed in black confronts Indiana in a souk in Cairo. Marion, played by Karen Allen, is about to be abducted after she unwisely hides in a convenient rattan basket. Indy hasn't much time. But the looming Arab swordsman has plenty of time. He loops his gleaming scimitar in skilful arcs of light. He is going to take great delight in showing his skill at killing this infidel American. Indy, on the other hand, doesn't even bother to reach for his bullwhip, his usual weapon of choice. Without the merest hint of fair play, he shoots the swordsman down with his pistol.

As it happens, the script had allowed for an extended period of choreographed fighting. But Harrison Ford had other things on his mind. He needed to use the lavatory. He had diarrhoea. This comically improvised scene proved such a hit with the director, he junked the written scene and left it in.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

America South West Writers' Festival

The University of Warwick's "Warwick Writing Programme" is launching a new international partnership with one of the top creative writing schools in the United States - the Virginia Piper Centre for Creative Writing at Arizona State University - with a special three-day event.

It will bring four leading US writers to the University of Warwick for the American South West Writers' Festival at Warwick Arts Centre on 23rd to 25th November.

Four American writers - Ron Carlson, Jay Boyer, Jewell Parker Rhodes and Melissa Pritchard - will be giving readings and holding individual sessions with local writers.

Lost authors

How many once-respected authors are now out of print, their books almost impossible to get hold of? Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski in The Independent spent some time scouring the internet for once-familiar names.
I decide to speak to Stuart Kelly, author of The Book of Lost Books, due from Penguin next year. "Literary reputations are predictably precarious," he tells me. "Although one might remember that Iris Murdoch and Muriel Spark were both shortlisted for the inaugural Booker Prize in 1969, memory has been less kind to Barry England, GM Williams and even the first winner, PH Newby."

Reynolds quits ITV

Veteran Coronation Street executive producer Caroline Reynolds is leaving ITV to set up her own company, reports Media Guardian.
Ms Reynolds' move will prompt a restructuring at Granada's drama department in Manchester, with her executive producing responsibilities for Coronation Street split between the show's producer, Tony Wood, and John Whiston, Granada's director of drama, children's and arts programming.

Granada's head of drama in Manchester, Kieran Roberts, who has worked as a producer on Coronation Street and Emmerdale, will look after other drama projects Ms Reynolds had in development and pre-production.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Hollywood sues suspected pirates

The first cases against people accused of pirating feature films and sharing them on the internet have begun, reports The Washington Post.
The lawsuits, which could seek up to $150,000 in damages for each film illegally copied, are the first of their kind to be filed by the movie industry. Motion Picture Association of America President Dan Glickman first signaled the lawsuits two weeks ago when he said that the studios would sue approximately 200 people suspected of illegally trading movies online.

"The future of our industry, and of the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports, must be protected from this kind of outright theft using all available means," Glickman said in a release issued today.

4 and Five will not merge

Channels 4 and Five have called off merger talks, reports BBC News, because of the complexity of combining a public and commercial stations.
Discussions were started under the former [Channel 4] chief executive Mark Thompson, who has since left to become director general of the BBC.

He was replaced by Andy Duncan who had been the director of marketing at the BBC.

Mr Duncan said: "With concerns being raised about our future funding it was legitimate for Channel 4 to explore this merger, but we've concluded that protecting and strengthening Channel 4's public service role isn't compatible with the full merger that was proposed."

Penguin's Christmas fears

Penguin books, still struggling with a new distribution system, might not be able to meet Christmas demand for its titles, reports Publishing News.
“Reps are acknowledging that Christmas will be terrible,” said one senior figure, “but they are fearful of admitting it.” Said another: “They’ll have the new Jamie Oliver on the van, but not core fiction.”

Adams moves to Basingstoke

Paines Plough co-founder John Adams has been appointed as artistic director of the Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke, reports The Stage.
Speaking of his decision to accept the role of artistic director, after more than ten years freelancing, he said: “I went to Basingstoke as a guest director and fell in love with the theatre. It’s such a warm place. It has a loyal and committed audience and I will serve that audience but at the same time I want to expand their horizons.”

The triumph of animation

With the new Disney/Pixar film The Incredibles smashing box office records, the onward march of animated features seems unstoppable, reports David Eimer in The Times.
In fact, the recipe for a successful animated feature or cartoon hasn’t changed since Mickey Mouse first appeared in Steamboat Willie (1928). “It’s all about the story and characters,” points out John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and the director of Toy Story. “That’s what we put our effort into. And just look at our track record.”

Monday, November 15, 2004

Philip Pullman

Award-winning novelist Philip Pullman is interviewed by Christina Patterson in The Independent ahead of publication of his new book, The Scarecrow and His Servant.
Contrary to his image as some kind of genius who sprang into the literary landscape from nowhere, he has been writing all his life. Northern Lights was just the culmination of an extraordinary range of storytelling skills that he had been honing in a variety of contexts for years: in his work as a teacher, where he would read the children fairy tales and write plays for them to perform, and in a range of books for younger readers.

Unicorn Theatre appeals for cash

The Unicorn Theatre, the UK's first purpose-built children's theatre has launched an appeal to raise the £1.6m it needs to meet its budget for a new buidling, reports BBC News. The Unicorn Theatre's new £12.6m home in Southwark is due to be completed in autumn 2005.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Romantic comedies

With the new Bridget Jones film opening today, BBC News has an enjoyable analysis of what makes romantic comedies tick.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Film endings

Great endings should be unpredictable, but satisfying to the audience, says Bonnie Orr on Screentalk. She lists her top 10 endings of all time:

1. The Usual Suspects
2. The Sixth Sense
3. Thelma And Louise
4. High Noon
5. It's A Wonderful Life
6. Casablanca
7. Whale Rider
8. Chinatown
9. Shawshank Redemption
10. The Green Mile

Tess Ross takes over Channel 4 drama

Channel 4 is to merge its TV drama and film departments, putting Tessa Ross in overall charge following head of drama John Yorke's return to the BBC, reports Media Guardian.

Ross oversaw the drama department before she was appointed of head of films at the end of 2002.

British Comedy Awards

Nominations have been announced for this year's British Comedy Awards. They include:

Best TV comedy
Little Britain (written by Matt Lucas and David Walliams)
Nighty Night (Julia Davis)
The Office - Christmas Special (Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant)

Best TV comedy drama
Doc Martin (Dominic Minghella)
Jonathan Creek (David Renwick)
Shameless (Paul Abbott)

The Awards will be presented on 22 December.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

John Yorke returns to the BBC

As widely predicted, John Yorke is leaving his post at Channel 4 to return to the BBC, along with his assistant Lucy Richer, reports Media Guardian (free registration required).
Mr Yorke, the drama chief behind hit shows Shameless and No Angels and a former executive producer on EastEnders, will take charge of BBC1's biggest drama series, including Holby City, Casualty and EastEnders.

He will share the job of commissioning independent productions with Ms Richer, but will not have responsibility for returning drama series such as Waking the Dead and Judge John Deed, which are being merged into the in-house drama department.

LA Screenwriting Expo

Clutching crib notes, fighting butterflies and wearing the stricken look of cattle being led to slaughter, aspiring screenwriters from Ireland to Australia awaited their once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to pitch The Great Idea to a battery of Hollywood producers, agents and managers.
The New York Times reports on the LA Screenwriting Expo, where writers pay $60 to attend and $25 per pitch.

What every writer is hoping for, of course, is the mega deal. Troy Duffy sold his first script to Miramax for $1 million, as documented in a new film about him, Overnight, reviewed in the New York Times.
There is something both infuriating and sad about the way Mr. Duffy mistakes money and entertainment-industry curiosity for real power and actual achievement. His stubborn refusal to heed good advice is matched by an angry belief, born out of unacknowledged impotence, that studio and record-company big shots are secretly afraid of him. He has fallen into the fallacy, endemic among aspirants to post-modern show business glory, that a contract or a big advance means at least as much as a good album or an interesting movie.

The Independent Book Group

The Indpendent runs an online book group with a different title every month.

The latest is Being Alive, a collection of poetry edited by Neil Astley. The idea is that you buy the book and then post comments in the online forum.

Whitbread Book Awards

The shortlists have been announced for the Whitbread Book Awards 2004.

Novel Award shortlist
Kate Atkinson - Case Histories
Louis de Bernières - Birds Without Wings
Alan Hollinghurst - The Line of Beauty
Andrea Levy - Small Island

First Novel Award shortlist
Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Richard Collins - The Land as Viewed from the Sea
Susan Fletcher - Eve Green
Panos Karnezis - The Maze

Biography Award shortlist
John Guy - My Heart is my Own:The Life of Mary Queen of Scots
David McKie - Jabez: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Rogue
John Sutherland - Stephen Spender
Jeremy Treglown - V.S. Pritchett: A Life

Poetry Award shortlist
Leontia Flynn - These Days
John Fuller - Ghosts
Matthew Hollis - Ground Water
Michael Symmons Roberts - Corpus

Children’s Book Award shortlist
Anne Cassidy - Looking for JJ
Geraldine McCaughrean - Not the End of the World
Meg Rosoff - How I Live Now
Ann Turnbull - No Shame, No Fear

Winners in the five categories, who each receive £5,000, will be announced on Wednesday 6th January 2005. The overall winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year will receive £25,000 and will be selected and announced at the Whitbread Book Awards ceremony in central London on Tuesday 25th January 2005.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Geoffrey Lancashire

Geoffrey Lancashire, one of the early writers of Coronation Street, has died at the age of 71.

Lancashire also created two comedy series, The Cuckoo Waltz and Foxy Lady, and wrote numerous episodes of other series including All Creatures Great and Small.

There's an obituary in The Guardian.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Page Turners

After the success of the BBC's Big Read, and Richard and Judy's Book Club, get ready for Page Turners, due to come to BBC Daytime next year.
The official launch for the programme was held last Friday, when representatives from major publishing houses were briefed on the programme’s format and content. Page Turners will consist of eight weekly programmes, each featuring three books. Each book will have a celebrity advocate, and there will also be audience participation. The programmes will be presented by Jeremy Vine. Each publishing house may submit up to five titles for consideration, before the 3 December deadline.

Peter Whitbread - actor and scriptwriter

Actor and writer Peter Whitbread has died after a car accident near his Norfolk home, reports The Stage.

In recent years Whitbread had concentrated mostly on writing for the theatre, but his greatest success came in 1974 when his drama Mr Axelford’s Angel won the Emmy Award for Best Television Play. He also wrote many scripts for Emmerdale Farm.


Behind the scenes of Peter Bowker's new drama in The Times.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Russell T Davies

The force behind the new series of Doctor Who, due to start next year, and an original series, Mine All Mine, coming to ITV, Russell T Davies is a writer in demand.

Interviewed by Nick Duerden in The Observer, he talks about his new work and the the media frenzy surrounding his first major series, Queer As Folk.
"So there I was, having to defend myself against all manner of idiotic shock jocks on the radio and some very stern journalists, as well as the people of Gay Land who were horrified that I chose to depict homosexuals as people who liked drinking and shagging. I remember thinking I could either sink or be brilliant in this situation..." Davies, shameless self-dramatist that he is, pauses, and allows the pause to become pregnant. "I chose to be brilliant."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Paterson on Pinter

Poet Don Paterson caused a stir this week by using the TS Eliot lecture to attack Harold Pinter, reports The Guardian.
"To take a risk in a poem is not to write a big sweary outburst about how crap the war in Iraq is, even if you are the world's greatest living playwright. Because anyone can do that."
He also stuck the knife into amateur poets.
"Many people feel that, armed with a beermat, a pencil, and a recent mildly traumatic experience, they are entitled to send 100 pages of handwritten drivel into Faber or Cape."
Some lively correspondence ensued.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Piracy crackdown (updated)

Hollywood film studios are to sue people who swap pirated copies of films over the internet, reports BBC News.

Updated: They also have a very useful Q&A about online film piracy.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Free TV scripts

The Screenwriters Store has some new TV scripts available to download, including episodes of The Simpsons, The X-Files and Taxi.

National Theatre of Scotland

THE first director of the National Theatre of Scotland takes the helm of the £3.5 million-a-year company [this week] with only one staff member and a rented office in Glasgow.

Small beginnings, perhaps, for Vicky Featherstone is tasked with building the new organisation into one that is big and bold enough to fulfil the aspirations that led to its creation in the first place.
The full story is in The Scotsman.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Writers' Passage - West Midlands

Screen West Midlands and The Script Factory are looking to recruit eight writers (or writing teams) for the second intake of the Writers' Passage programme.

Writers selected for the programme will have the opportunity to workshop their scripts with actors, get expert teaching on story structure and screenwriting craft, be inspired by masterclasses at the screenwriting festival, SCENE, and work one-to-one with a script editor through three re-drafts. The aim of this course is to prepare all participants to be launched as professional writers within the UK film industry.

At the end of the programme each writer will receive valuable feedback on their project from some of the most respected individuals currently working in film. Entry is only open to writers who live or work within the West Midlands and have completed a first draft screenplay.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 17 December 2004.

Full details are available from The Script Factory.

Robert McKee

Love him or loathe him, it's hard to escape the screenwriting guru, Robert McKee, author of Story. The Screenwriters Store has an interview from CNN.
CNN: A cliché in Hollywood is "She was so dumb she slept with the screenwriter" -- they're at the bottom of the totem pole. Do you think that's still true?

MCKEE: If I were a young actress trying to get ahead today, I would sleep with a television writer (laughs), because what's happened in Hollywood is that the very best writers have abandoned screenwriting and they've all gone over to TV. We're now in a golden age of television writing.

American Guild's close to settlement

The Negotiating Committee for the Writers Guild of America, west and East has reached tentative agreement on a new three-year, $58-million contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, ABC, CBS, FBC, and NBC covering writers in the film, broadcast and cable industries.
"It's been a long five months since we walked away from negotiations without a contract on June 2nd," said Daniel Petrie Jr., President of the WGAw, "but it has been well worth the wait. This tentative agreement is projected to be worth almost $58 million by the end of its term, nearly double what the producers offered us on June 1st. The new agreement will fully address the needs of our health plan, ensuring us a six-month reserve at the current level of benefits by the end of the contract in 2007. We consider this a major victory that was critical to protect the health benefits of writers and their families. What's more, the companies have also agreed to recommend to the pension fund directors that they increase pensions."
There's a full report on the WGA website.

Oscar Moore Screen-Writing Prize 2004

The Oscar Moore Foundation was established in 1997 as a charitable foundation administered by film trade Screen International, in memory of its former editor-in-chief Oscar Moore (also Guardian columnist and novelist ) who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1996.

The aim of the Foundation, whose patron is the Oscar-winning screenwriter Emma Thompson, is to foster new European screen-writing talent by awarding an annual prize of £10,000 to the best first draft screenplay in a genre which changes each year. The genre for 2004 is Thriller.

The deadline for submissions has been extended to 5pm, 6th December 2004.

Read the full details on

Monday, November 01, 2004

Horror films

A post-Halloween treat for horror lovers, with this state of the genre survey by Terrence Rafferty in the New York Times.
Are we actually more frightened, as the Puritans were, of what's inside us than of what's out there in the wilderness? Maybe. In any event, the internal terrors are infinitely harder to laugh at, or to beat back with overwhelming force, or to turn into a lucrative, teen-friendly franchise.

Top 10 Fantasy novels

A selection by Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus trilogy, in The Guardian:
1. Grettir's Saga by Anon, 1320s (trans. Fox and Palsson 1974)
2. Monkey by Wu Ch'eng-en, 16th century (trans. Arthur Waley 1942)
3. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, 1726
4. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 1908
5. War in Heaven by Charles Williams, 1930
6. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, 1937
7. Titus Groan/Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake, 1946/1950
8. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, 1950
9. The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones, 1974
10. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, 1979

Neil LaBute

The American playwright and film-maker is turning his hand to fiction with his first collection of short stories, Seconds of Pleasure. He tallks to Jonathan Romney in The Independent.
The stories depict little epiphanies of perdition, in which people blow their chances of redemption on the slimmest gratifications. Hence Seconds of Pleasure: such ruination, and in exchange for what? An orgasm, or the relief of making a catty remark. The title came from a song by Elvis Costello, to whom the book is dedicated. LaBute borrowed it because "it reinforced that notion of what people were longing for, and willing to throw everything away for."

Drama dominates ITV3

Launced today, ITV3 will use a mix of drama premieres and classic repeats to target veiwers over-35.

ITV3 will be available on the following channels:ntl 8 & 118, Telewest 116, Freeview 34.

To watch ITV3 on FREEVIEW from 1 November you might need to retune your digital box. Some boxes will retune automatically, however with some boxes you will need to press "Menu" or "Setup" on your remote control and follow the on-screen or printed instructions. Depending on the language your equipment uses, choose "update", "retune" or "store".