Saturday, April 30, 2005

Macmillan New Writing

Macmillan have launched a New Writing list. It looks like a sort of middle ground between conventional publishing and self-publishing.
Macmillan New Writing is an imprint within the Macmillan group, designed to give an opportunity for new authors to achieve publication. The books are published at the company's expense, no contribution costs will be sought from authors, and royalties on sales will be paid. The books are sold in the market by Macmillan and will be carried in the company's catalogues, but to keep costs to a minimum to allow the maximum number of new writers to get a chance at publication, all arrangements for publication and contracts with authors are standard and there is a minimum of communication between publisher and author.
The Guardian reports that writers will receive 20% of royalties from sales but Macmillan will get all rights to the work.
[literary agent, Natasha] Fairweather described the deal as "shocking". Giles Foden, the author of several novels including The Last King of Scotland (and the Guardian's deputy literary editor), described it as "preying on the unwary", and "publishers trying to pull a fast one over impressionable young authors".

"It seems to be putting more risk on to the shoulders of the writer," [novelist, Hari] Kunzru said. "For writers the important thing is having the publishing control and retaining your rights. I'd publish on the net or think about a writer-led co-operative before going down this road."

Macmillan denies sharp practice. "I have been through over a thousand manuscripts, and, hand on heart, I haven't had a single author who has said it's unfair ... We are doing this with great integrity," Barnard said.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Art of Screenwriting

A recent seminar in New York, organised by the National Board of Review, brought together six accomplished US screenwriters. The NBR is 95 years-old, has no ties to the industry and celebrates artistic excellence. The seminar took place in a similarly venerable environment, the Harmonie Club, originally a German-Jewish members club, modelled on the British originals at the Strand.

Robert Harling on director Herbert Ross's swift action when the leading actresses in Steel Magnolias threatened to improvise): "Herbert said: 'Ladies, we would treat the text as if it were Chekhov.' When the shoot was finished at four in the morning, I thanked Herbert for his compliment, to which he replied: 'I said to play it as if it were Chekhov, I'm not saying it is.

Richard LaGravenese on [British] reserve: "Editing and writing are very similar processes. There is a scene in Fisher King in which one character really explodes. Director Terry Gilliam was really uncomfortable with the emotions, so he cut half of the scene focusing only on the other character. His English editor also thought the scene was too emotional. Nowadays people are so afraid of emotions. They pull back, thinking everything will be carried by the actors, by looks, but instead it's just empty."

Jay Presson Allen on working with Hitchcock: "He encouraged me to cut whole scenes where people just sit and talk. I learned from him about visual compression. I wrote scene after scene for him, but at some point he would say: 'Why don't we show a fight and then the next shot is a flower with a card that says 'Congratulations'. Learning to go from A to B like that was just bliss."

Women on top in Hollywood - the NY take

The Tribeca Film Festival in New York is unspooling with a whopping 600 films. At least as many parties are unleashed throughout the city. A brunch organized by Dutch cultural attachee Jeanne Wikler celebrated Holland's contribution to the festival.

One of the guests was Terry Lawler, executive director of New York Women in Film & Television, who commented on the New York Times article about the rise of women in Hollywood. Although she was happy to see ink dedicated to the subject, she didn't share the view suggested by the article that the glass ceiling is now a thing of the past and that Hollywood is a model for other industries to copy in terms of female power. Lawler fired off a letter to the New York Times and her mailbox was flooded with emails from the filmmaking community voicing similar concerns.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Diana Evans - a chip off the UEA block

Diana Evans, shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers, is another success story from the University of East Anglia's writing programme. However, in The Independent Russell Celyn Jones, professor of creative writing at Birkbeck College, warns students not to raise their expectations too high.
It might be useful to compare one day the number of graduates from MA creative writing programmes who make a career in writing, with graduates of art, music and drama schools. About 80 per cent of creative writing graduates do not become published authors. Just think if that was the statistic for medical schools.

Women on top in Hollywood

Gail Berman's appointment as the head of Paramount Pictures' creative team means that four of the six major Hollywood studios now have women in the top creative decision-making roles, reports The New York Times.
Though men still figure most prominently in the corporate echelons of the media companies that own the studios, and talent agencies like William Morris and Creative Artists Agency are still male dominated, these women, who over the years have fought and fostered one another as part of a loose sisterhood, have finally buried the notion that Hollywood is a man's world.

E4 coming to Freeview

Channel 4 will make its digital channel E4 free to air on the Freeview platform from next month, reports BBC News.

While the schedules will initially be dominated by the new series of Big Brother, E4, which is aimed at young people, also screens homegrown comedy such as Peep Show and Green Wing.

There are currently five million homes in the UK with Freeview.

Update (19/05/05): The latest news is that E4 will launch on Freeview on 27 May, for the launch of Big Brother 6.

Keating wants more drama on BBC 2

BBC 2 Controller, Roly Keating, has pledged to make more original drama for the channel, reports The Stage.
Pointing to the channel’s past success with shows such as nineties hits Our Friends in the North and This Life, he acknowledged it is missing a similar style of contemporary, original and imaginative drama.

Keating added that he hoped a key legacy of his time as controller would be the development of the channel’s distinctive drama profile with new writers and series but conceded his plans would take time to filter through to screens.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Write Live 2005

Write Live 2005 invites any West Midlands-based playwright to submit a full-length play, written for theatre. The submission will then be considered for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Attachment Scheme for Playwrights, and there is also the possibility of the writer receiving development from SCRIPT through mentoring and showcasing.

The deadline is 13 May 2005.

BBC Drama Series Writing Academy 2005

The BBC has launched a new initiative to train writers for long-running drama series.

The BBC Drama Series Writing Academy 2005 will take on eight writers for a year of full-time training focusing on Doctors, Casualty, Holby City and EastEnders.

Applicants must have already had at least one film, television or radio drama script produced or one theatre piece performed professionally.

Applications must be received by 9 May, with the course due to start in September 2005.

TV's lost generation

It doesn't seem very long ago that we were all worried about how much television teenagers were watching. Not any more. The problem, for the TV industry at least, is that viewing hours among all young people are declining. While children's TV is protected by regulation, programming for teenagers has been in decline, with most 11-18 year-olds now choosing adult shows as their favourites.

This "lost generation" of TV viewers was the subject of an interesting debate at BAFTA in London on Monday evening, with contributions from a range of industry insiders, as well as from young people themselves.

The bottom line is that, as one audience member put it, while children have grown increasingly sophisticated as TV consumers, the regulations covering content have not kept pace. Programme-makers steer clear of controversy, making it difficult for children's TV to tackle the kind of issues that teenagers are interested in.

The teenagers themselves said that they wanted more comedy and drama aimed at them, but, as producer Richard Langridge pointed out, slots in the schedule are not being made available. He, and several other contributors, argued that BBC 3, which was originally targeted at those 16+ but is now aiming for people aged over-24, had been a missed opportunity.

Elaine Sperber, Head of CBBC Drama, admitted that the teenage audience was being short-changed, and said that the BBC was looking at new ways of delivering content to them.

Could there be a new teen channel? Trouble and Nickelodean have been very successful, and many of the young people in the audience complained about the lack of a homemade equivalent.

The UK can do teen programming. Hollyoaks is a mainstream hit, and As If showed that more experimental approaches can also succeed. What is needed, it was agreed, is commitment from senior management, especially within the BBC, to make slots (6.30 on BBC 2, for example) and money available.

Representatives from Ofcom said that they had already commented on the lack of programming for teenagers. The consensus at BAFTA on Monday night was that a concerted campaign was required to persuade the broadcasters to do something about it.

In defence of short plays

Playwright David Eldridge in The Guardian hits back at Michael Billington for his argument that short plays are damaging theatre.
He [Billington] hints that new dramatists aren't serious, but these forms are created out of the serious endeavour of telling stories in the most truthful, effective and expressive way possible. The drama we are creating is often more experiential and variations upon the single action are almost always the right way of telling these stories. One admired dramatist has said to me that the interval has always seemed mad for a lot of her plays because of their subjective nature - and she won't throw everything she's carefully built up to give the punters a packet of crisps and a gin and tonic. The works of Beckett and Pinter are in our culture now, and for Billington to infer that we ought to hack away at old-fashioned forms that don't express the truth of our stories is pure poppycock. What about Sarah Kane's first play, Blasted - should she have conceived her material as a traditional well-made play?

Monday, April 25, 2005


A guide to litblogs, the new internet phenomenon proving that new media and books do mix, by Joy Press in Village Voice.

Free step-outlines and treatments

Free from Screentalk, step outlines and treatments from feature films including China Town, Star Wars and Terminator.

Theatre writers and directors

The secrets of a successful working relationship between theatre writers and directors will be explored in a Writers' Guild event at RADA in London on 17 May. Full details are on the Writers' Guild website.

Will the government back amateur theatre?

Charles Vance in The Stage asks whether the next government will take up the recommendations of a DCMS select committee report stating that:
“We believe that, as in sport, consideration should be given to the public policy gains that can be demonstrated as a result of participation in drama and a strategic approach to the funding of grassroots, or community theatre should be developed. This should take place as a partnership between the amateur sector, Arts Council England, regional theatres, local government and schools.

“As a first step, proposals for a National Drama Association - with public funding - to bring the amateur sector together should be properly formulated and given serious consideration. A further initiative might be the development of local arts forums, including theatre and amateur theatre, aimed at maximising the use of local arts expertise and facilities for the benefit of the community.”

Reviews or readers?

Steve Stern's latest book, The Angel of Forgetfulness, has received rave reviews, reports Peter Edidin in the New York Times but sales are slow. So what's it like to be loved by critics but ignored by readers?
Mr. Stern said he would love to have a best seller. But having had the good fortune to find his life's work in Memphis many years ago, he doesn't really want to press his luck. "I just want to get away with it," he said. "I just want to get my next book published, and my next."

John Yorke's plans for EastEnders

John Yorke, controller of continuing drama series and head of independent drama, tells Stuart Jefferies in Media Guardian (free registration required) why, having returned to the BBC from Challen 4, he still believes in EastEnders.
For the past three months, Yorke has had EastEnders back on his viewing schedule (he reckons to watch 340 hours of TV a year). What went wrong with it while you were away? "Soaps have to be character-led. It became a bit too plot-led. It was the Brookside syndrome - just pursuing sensationalism. That's very dangerous. Audiences just don't believe you after a while." Why then not kill off EastEnders, just as Brookside was terminated while you were at Channel 4? "You couldn't do that! EastEnders saved the BBC." But that was 20 years ago. "No, it is part of the BBC1's DNA now, it's vital to the channel.

Friday, April 22, 2005

BBC to spend an extra £21m on TV shows

The BBC will spend an extra £61m on programmes, including £21m on television shows, it has announced in its annual statement. The corporation's programme budget will increase to £2.178bn this year, with extra drama and comedy on BBC TV.

It will air fewer repeats, makeover and lifestyle shows in BBC One's peak time.
The full story is on BBC News.

Soaps and illness

Next time you write a medical storyline for a soap, spare a thought for the GPs. As BBC News reports, in a new survey more than nine out of 10 GPs claimed to have seen patients reporting symptoms based on what they had seen on TV or read in newspapers and magazines.
Pam Prentice, joint chief executive of Developing Patient Partnerships, said: "These results may be bad news for GPs right now, but they show soaps' enormous potential for influencing people's health behaviour in a positive way."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Channel 4 comedy writing competition

Channel 4 have announced that they will launch a brand new comedy writing initiative in mid-May.

The new scheme will offer fresh writing talent the chance to win a one-year contract with the channel worth £20,000 and the opportunity to write for a range of Channel 4 comedy and entertainment shows.

Entrants will be required to submit a three minute topical monologue for a quintessential C4 show of their choice and three non-topical sketches of no more than three minutes each in length.

We'll post full details as soon as they are announced.

Update (19/05/05): Details have now been announced.

Johnathan Young moves to Talkback

Talkback Thames’ incoming chief executive Lorraine Heggessey has hired Johnathan Young as head of drama following Paul Marquess’ departure.

Young, a former Channel 4 drama commissioner responsible for shows such as Hollyoaks, Brookside and Teachers, is already working at Talkback producing a second series of Murder Investigation Team and is due to begin filming hospital drama Golden Hour, both for ITV1.

Having directed and produced on EastEnders in the mid-nineties he has built up significant experience in long-running drama series. He later worked on the BBC’s Casualty and played a role in setting up its spin-off Holby City. He was executive producer on Jimmy McGovern’s controversial Channel 4 drama tackling the events of Bloody Sunday as well as Trust with Robson Green for BBC1 - both made by Cracker co-creator Gub Neal’s independent production company, Box TV.
More from The Stage.

BAFTA (part 2)

There were in fact three big awards for Guild members at the BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday.

Paul Abbott (Shameless) won the Best Drama Series, and Guy Hibbert (Omagh) won the best Single Drama.

In addition, Alan Plater was presented with the Dennis Potter Award for writing.

Children's writers over-50

Saga magazine is looking for new writers aged 50 or over who can write for older children. The winner of their competition will have their book published by HarperCollins.

Completed manuscripts of a minimum of 20,000 words and a maximum of 60,000 words in length should be presented with a synopsis of 500 words and sent to the address which will be published in the September issue of Saga magazine together with the official entry form.

The closing date for entries will be January 31, 2006. the winner will be notified by the end of March 2006 and announced in the May 2006 issue of Saga Magazine. The winner’s book will be published in spring 2007.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

First-time novelists

Today's new writers lack life experience, argues Robert McCrum in The Observer.
Once upon a time, the writing of books was part of a crowded and vigorous life producing sturdy, oak-like prose. Now, it it often performed by writers for whom it is an end in itself, and for whom the novel has become a strange kind of obsession. No harm in that for the best, of course, but for the majority, the exclusion of everyday concerns yields balsa-wood prose that's detached from the stuff of existence.

First novels used to be a cause for celebration. Now, more likely, it is the third, or even the fifth novel that signals the arrival of a new writer of consequence, someone whose creative stamina will stay the course.

Guild's website back up

The Guild's website is back up.

The hosting company suffered a major technical failure at the end of last week but everything is now restored. Apologies for the inconvenience.

The new compressionism

An ugly phrase, I know, but its what Michael Billington in The Guardian calls the fashion for ever-shorter plays. Is the trend for 90-minute theatre hurting theatre?
I am not asking for a standard structure or a return to the days of the two-interval play. But what I miss is the polyphonic richness of which drama is capable, or the complexities of character revealed by an unfolding narrative. One reason why people are flocking to Don Carlos is that it provides exactly the kind of stimulus so much modern drama lacks: exploration of ideas through character, examination of the manifold selves that make up individuals, the thrilling collision of private and public worlds.

Orange Prize shortlist

The shortlist has been announced for the Orange Prize for fiction.

The nominations for the award, which is open to novels in English written by women, are:

  • Billie Morgan by Joolz Denby
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam
  • The Mammoth Cheese by Sheri Holman
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
  • Liars and Saintsby Maile Meloy
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

BAFTA winners

Paul Abbott's Shameless continued its domination of award ceremonies on Sunday, winning the BAFTA for best drama series.

Sex Traffic, by Abi Morgan, won the best drama serial. Coronation Street was crowned best continuing drama.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Is British film dead?

Screenwriter and Guild member Jonathan Gems argues in The Independent that a once prolific industry is being strangled by Hollywood and apathetic UK governments.
When the UK Film Council boasted recently about the amazing success of British films, most of us felt like committing suicide. None of the films the UK Film Council was bragging about were British! Most of them were made by four foreign studios: Pathé, Warner Bros, Disney and Universal - all companies adept at exploiting British grants to subsidise their movies.

Writers' Guild website

We've had a serious technical problem with the Writers' Guild website (

We're working on getting it fixed but I'm afraid that for the moment it is out of action.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Writers' Nexus

Writers' Nexus is a site where writers can post work (for a fee of £35) to be read by agents and publishers, who can browse for free.

I've no idea if it's worth the money, but they do have a very good links page. (As recommended by Jack Schofield in The Guardian)

Bertha the Earth Truck

Guild member Mark Gamon has created what he's calling a blook - a cross between a blog and a book, Bertha the Earth Truck. The modern version of Dickens-style serialisations? The one thing you must remember is to start reading from the bottom.

Creative Archive Licence

The BBC, Channel 4, the British Film Institute and The Open University have launched the Creative Archive Licence.The Creative Archive Licence is inspired by the Creative Commons system, a flexible copyright arrangement pioneered in the US.
The Creative Archive Licence will give a new generation of media users legal access to material which they can use to express their creativity and share their knowledge - all completely free of charge.

The Licence has been launched following a commitment in the BBC's Building Public Value document, in which it pledged to "help establish a common resource which will extend the public's access while protecting the commercial rights of intellectual property owners."

The hope is that pilot download schemes, to be launched by the partners, will help fuel creativity activity across Britain, as people utilise the footage in personal projects, classroom presentations and their own artistic creations.
At present the BBC is makng footage from natural history and factual programmes available under the licence, while Channel 4 has commissioned a selection of content.

The BFI will be releasing silent comedy, early literary adaptations, newsreel footage and archive footage of British cities in the early 20th century.

Copyright issues for modern drama and comedy footage have yet to be resolved.

In the latest issue of the Writers' Guild's magazine, UK Writer, Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett warns writers against using Creative Commons licenses and advises them to hang on to their rights.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

BBC unions plan strike ballot

Unions at the BBC are to ballot members for strike action over plans to cut up to 4,000 posts at the corporation.

The decision came after a three-hour meeting between unions and the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson.

Bectu, Amicus and the National Union of Journalists said the BBC had refused to meet their demand that there should be no compulsory redundancies.
More details from BBC News.

Saga writing competition

Arrow Books and ASDA have announced a major national competition to find the next big saga author – a writer who combines superb storytelling, unforgettable characters and a vivid sense of time and place.

The competition will be launched on 4th July 2005 and Rosie Harris’s new novel At Sixes and Sevens will contain details of the competition. At Sixes and Sevens will have featured space in store and be on sale exclusively with ASDA for 2 weeks prior to the official 21st July publication date.

Arrow and ASDA are inviting submissions of 4000 words or roughly 2 chapters, along with a synopsis for the rest of the book and ideas for other novels. The closing date is December 2005 and submissions will be judged by a panel including the editorial team at Arrow, author Rosie Harris and Toby Bourne of ASDA. The winner will be announced in January 2006 and the book will then be published in 2007 by Arrow and available in ASDA stores nationwide. ASDA have committed to support with major space in-store and a feature in ASDA magazine.

For further information please call Charlotte Bush on 020 7840 8613
or email

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

David Greig interviewed

Playwright David Greig (Pyrenees, The American Pilot) interviewed by Leo Benedictus in The Guardian.
Greig now averages around five new plays a year, an astonishing rate. This is partly just good financial planning. "There are very few playwrights I can think of that don't go through a period of being very unfashionable while they're alive," he says, with evident trepidation. But does he wish he could slow down? "I'm always proud of the work," he begins carefully. "I genuinely never let the work be shit, and I always push myself, but I wouldn't write so much if I didn't have to make a living. It's a good discipline, but I would dearly like to work at a slightly slower pace. Although that's partly becoming possible anyway."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Evan Katz on writing 24

Talking to 24 writer and co-executive producer Evan Katz about his hit Fox show, you can't help but feel a bit like the show is real. As he talks, you begin to feel the same gravity pull you in that seems to affect those involved with the show. It's the same intense, suspended disbelief that makes the show a terror-infused, hyper-addictive smash.
An interview for the Writers Guild of America west, by Dylan Callaghan

Amazon buys BookSurge

Last week we reported that online retailer was considering a move into electronic publishing. Now it has bought BookSurge, reports The New York Times, one of America's biggest print-on-demand companies. declined to share specific details about the acquisition - its second in five years. "We feel we can do great things together. We're just not saying what that might be," said Patty Smith, a company spokeswoman. Nonetheless, Amazon appears a good match for BookSurge's would-be authors, because it attracts perhaps more literary types than any other electronic commerce site.

ITV strike battle continues

Strikers at...ITV will target ratings-winning soap operas "Coronation Street" and "Emmerdale" if management refuses to increase a pay offer following Friday's walk out, union leaders said Friday.
You can get the full story from Reuters.

Saul Bellow tributes

Often described as a writers' writer, Saul Bellow has been praised across the press since his death last week. Of particular interest, I thought were pieces by Christopher Hitchens in The Observer and James Wood in The Guardian.People disagreed about Bellow's final stature, but no one really disagreed with the quality of the prose. Most writers are called "beautiful" at one time or another, as most flowers are called pretty, but there are never very many really great prose writers alive. Bellow was one, to my mind the greatest of American prose stylists in the 20th century - and thus one of the greatest in American fiction. It was a prose for all seasons; it seemed to do more of what one wanted from prose than any other competitor. It was intensely lyrical and musical, its rhythms a pressing mingle of Yiddish, American, English, and Hebrew (after Lawrence, Bellow was the most biblical of modern writers in English); but it was also grounded in speech, and seemed incapable of preciousness (unlike, say, the lovely but often pampered lustres of an Updike); it was witty, metaphysical, sensuous, playful. Above all, Bellow saw the world anew. When he looked, say, at icicles hanging from a hospital roof, he saw them resembling the teeth of a large fish, and then saw the "clear drops burning at their tips". Burning! When he described a younger man helping an old man across a street, he noted the "big but light elbow" of the old man. Big but light! There indeed was a writer attending to the world, attending to the body, missing nothing.

Gallagher turns to children's TV drama

Eileen Gallagher, managing director of Shed Productions (Bad Girls, Footballer's Wives) has written her first children's series, reports The Times. The Fugitives is a £1 million conspiracy thriller called The Fugitives for ITV, about a 12-year-old boy who suspects that he is being used by his own father in a cloning experiment.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Watchmen to leave Pinewood

The producers of The Watchmen, a $120 million blockbuster Hollywood film, are poised to pull the plug on producing the sci-fi epic at Pinewood Studios because of the rising cost of making films in Britain and uncertainty over government tax breaks.
Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom, the films-to-theme parks conglomerate, is looking for alternative locations for the film after deciding that it will be too expensive to make in Britain. One option under consideration is to move the film back to Hollywood, where it would be cheaper to make.
More in The Times.

Science fiction studies

The University of Liverpool is launching the world's first website dedicated to science fiction research, reports The Guardian.The SF Hubutilises the University's Science Fiction library, the largest of its kind in Europe.

Amazon to become a publisher?

Sources say that over the last few months Amazon has quietly been making the rounds to agents, in search of authors to write short pieces Amazon could post for sale. According to one version of the plan, Amazon would charge $.49 per electronic download for short stories, journalism, essays and other work; the material would be exclusive to Amazon and would not appear in a book or any other form. Material would be in the 2,000-10,000 word range and could include such updates as alternative endings to novels. An audio component could also be in the works; the company is requesting audio rights.
The full story is in Publishers Weekly.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Saul Bellow dies

Saul Bellow, the Nobel laureate and self-proclaimed historian of society whose fictional heroes - and whose scathing, unrelenting and darkly comic examination of their struggle for meaning - gave new immediacy to the American novel in the second half of the 20th century, died yesterday at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.
More coverage from the New York Times.
All his work, long and short, was written in a distinctive, immediately recognizable style that blended high and low, colloquial and mandarin, wisecrack and aphorism, as in the introduction of the poet Humboldt at the beginning of "Humboldt's Gift": "He was a wonderful talker, a hectic nonstop monologuist and improvisator, a champion detractor. To be loused up by Humboldt was really a kind of privilege. It was like being the subject of a two-nosed portrait by Picasso, or an eviscerated chicken by Soutine."

Sony Award nominations

Nominations have been announced for the Sony Awards, the biggest prizes in radio.

Drama award
  • Banana Republic - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4
  • Laughter In The Dark - dramatised by Craig Higginson from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov (Catherine Bailey Productions for BBC Radio 3)
  • Stan - by Neil Brand (BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4)
  • The Grove - by Positive Impact, various writers (In conjunction with Angela Heslop for BBC Radio Merseyside)
  • The Permanent Way - based on the play by David Hare (Catherine Bailey Productions for BBC Radio 3)

Comedy award
  • Clare In The Community - by Harry Venning and David Ramsden (BBC Radio Entertainment for Radio 4)
  • The 99p Challenge - by Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley, Jon Holmes and Tony Roche (Pozzitive Television for BBC Radio 4)
  • The Complete and Utter History of the Mona Lisa - by Patrick Barlow (Above The Title Productions for BBC Radio 4)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Episode 3 - by Douglas Adams (Above The Title Productions for BBC Radio 4)
  • The Museum of Everything - by Danny Robins, Dan Tetsell and Marcus Brigstocke (BBC Radio Entertainment for Radio 4)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sharman is new BBC children's controller

Jane Sharman has been appointed controller of the BBC's children's programming, reports Media Bulletin.
Sharman will take over the running of the BBC's two children's channels, the CBBC channel and CBeebies, from Dorothy Prior who last week moved become controller of production resources.

Sharman takes up her new role on June 20 and will be responsible for all editorial, commissioning and scheduling strategies, as well as overall responsibility for all children's production, children's acquisitions and CBBC
Sharman is currently controller of daytime programming, and does not have any previous experience of children's TV.

Northern Exposure Summer Shorts

The West Yorkshire Playhouse is accepting submissions of extracts from full-length plays in development for Summer Shorts 2005. Five writers will be invited on a ten day residency at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Theatre in the Mill 1 – 10 June during which time their plays will be developed and rehearsed. The 20 minute pieces will then be shown on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 June at Theatre in the Mill.

To be eligible to enter writers must be resident in the BBC Northern Exposure region (the North-West, North-East or Yorkshire and Humberside).

The deadline for submissions is 25 April 2005. Full details are on the West Yorkshire Playhouse website

DVD producers

With DVD takings now outstripping box office receipts, the producers of DVDs occupy are becoming increasingly powerful, says Christian Moerk in the New York Times.
The DVD production community has its own list of hits and misses - just as the feature film community does - which has less to do with the value of a director's original work than with what a producer has later done, or failed to do, to amplify it. "You would be surprised at the material coming out of good places," Mr. Bouzereau [who works on Steven Spielberg's films) said, politely referring to the copious amount of lesser DVD material being released.

How well does TV and film tackle disease?

An interesting article by Nick Triggle on BBC News about the way in which TV and film tends to portray illness.
The way Coronation Street handled the death of Alma Sedgewick in 2002 was typical of the way cancer is treated by scriptwriters, Cancer Research UK said.

The character, played by Amanda Barrie, died within a few months of being diagnosed and without contracting any of the symptoms.

"It happened too quickly," said Julia Frater, a cancer information nurse at the charity.

She said the problem was that writers almost always tried to fit the disease round the plot, rather than the plot round the disease.

"This does not really help us or people with cancer. I think if more effort was put in, drama could both entertain and inform."

Stuart Murphy interveiwed

BBC3 boss Stuart Murphy talks to Liz Thomas in The Stage.
“We are developing our drama strategy,” he explains. “We started out with half-hour impact dramas such as Burn It, before moving on to hour-long shows with greater character development like Bodies and Conviction. Now we want to bring more warmth to our drama, appealing to a wider audience. There will always be a real focus on new talent because I believe the more people bringing on new work the more interesting television will be. Casanova had a real attitude and is an example of the channel at its best.”

Teddington studios saved

Pinewood Shepperton have bought Teddington Studios for £2.6 million, reports Reuters.

Teddington, founded in 1912, had gone into administration last week after losing some key contracts.