Thursday, May 31, 2007

Everyword at the Everyman

Next week (5-9 June) at The Everyman theatre in Liverpool, it's the Everyword annual new writing festival.
Open your mind this June with Everyword 2007. The Everyman’s annual festival of new writing is back with a week of workshops, seminars, readings and events to stimulate your mind and get the creative juices flowing. Whatever your level of Experience, Everyword has something to suit.

This year we bring you workshops from some of the industry’s top companies and practitioners including Tim Firth, David Eldridge, Frantic Assembly and Paines Plough, as well as readings of new plays from up and coming new writers and one-off writing events to really get you thinking.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Radio 4 denies sneaking out Kureishi drama

From Ben Dowell in Media Guardian (free registration required):
Radio 4 last night aired its controversial Hanif Kureishi drama Weddings and Beheadings, which describes the work of a cameraman who films the executions of western captives in Iraq.

A Radio 4 spokeswoman denied that it had "sneaked out" Weddings and Beheadings, which was due to be broadcast on Radio 4 last month, but was pulled at the last minute after the kidnapping of BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston.

However, Weddings and Beheadings was dropped back into the Radio 4 schedule with only three days' notice on Sunday and was not featured in any daily newspaper radio listings yesterday.

Pullman attacks broadcasters over children's TV

Children's writer Phillip Pullman has attacked broadcasters for their approach to children's TV, reports Amelia Hill in The Observer.
Philip Pullman, the Whitbread award-winning author of His Dark Materials, has condemned children's television as 'social poison', treating its audience as marketing opportunities while portraying them as dangerous and feral.

Pullman castigated broadcasters for sacrificing high-quality programmes in favour of those that yield more marketing opportunities. 'Children are regarded by broadcasters as a marketing opportunity at best, a dangerous and feral threat at worst, and an expensive nuisance otherwise,' Pullman said. 'This social poison goes much deeper than broadcasting, of course, but it's particularly visible there."

Guild website

The Guild website is down at the moment due to technical problems. We hope to have it up and running again as soon as possible.

Update: all fine now - it was a problem with the hosting company.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Silence of the clams

On his blog, screenwriter Craig Mazin is trying to eliminate clams. ("According to Jane Espenson, clams are one-liners or comic concepts that have gone stale from overuse.") Some examples:
The Inside Voice: “I’m sorry…did I say that out loud?”

The Freudian Slip: “Hey, Carol, I see you’re wearing some new boobs…I mean boots!”

The “Mr.” Insult: “Oooh, check you out. Mr. Big Man! Mr. Crazy hat-wearing guy!”

The Nutty List: “All I know is I want to eat a steak, get laid, and play some golf…not necessarily in that order.”

Dante’s Clam: “This is the date from hell!”

Wole Soyinka interview

In The Daily Telegraph, Helen Oyeyemi talks to Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka.
He laughs when I ask if his exile and displacement have created a need for him to be in a state of discomfort to see clearly.

"No, nothing like that; the compulsion to write overrides my difficulties, it's not defined by them. An idyllic period of my existence was when I had a den attached to my home... a writing den, and no one had access to that unless they had their own special visa, applied for weeks in advance." He smiles ruefully and shakes his head.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Surviving Edinburgh

Dave Cohen's article from the most recent issue of the Guild's magazine UK Writer about how to survive the Edinburgh Festival is now online. Lots of tips - mainly about saving money.

The King Of Queens ends

One of America's longest running live-audience sitcoms, The King Of Queens, has come to an end. For the Writers Guild of America West, Dylan Callaghan talks to one of the show's creators, David Litt.
Here's something I learned that stuck with me the whole time during this show -- when I first started I was really into jokes. I'd have jokes in my head and write toward the jokes to the point where the story was serving the jokes. What I've learned is that it has to be the other way around. You have to write good characters and good stories and the jokes will flow from there. People worry about the jokes, but they should worry about the characters and the jokes will come.

Northern Film & Media bursary

Thanks to BBC Writersroom for the link to Northern Film & Media's bursary scheme. The closing date for applications is 7 June.
Northern Film & Media is to support two regional writers to develop a full length feature screenplay through a £10,000 bursary scheme.

Running for the second year, Northern Film & Media launched its Script Bursaries 2007 in late April.

Calling for 8-10 page feature treatments that have the potential to become well developed and commercial feature screenplays, Northern Film & Media expect all writers applying to be able to deliver a high quality completed script within the timescale indicated.

Northern Film & Media will pay the two successful writers £5,000 each for delivery of the completed screenplays.

The scheme also aims to develop writers in their production of scripts of the highest quality. To ensure this, Northern Film & Media will work with the writers and provide expert editing assistance from industry professionals on the projects.

The scheme is open to writers based in the North East region (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Tees Valley). Applicants must be over 18 and not in full-time or undergraduate education.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Haggis back on Bond

Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis is back on the Bond franchise, reports J.A. Fernandez in The LA Times.
Haggis has more than earned whatever he's being paid to rework the "Bond 22" screenplay by regular Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade ("The World Is Not Enough," "Die Another Day"). His rewrite of Purvis and Wade's "Casino Royale" script helped to revitalize the aging franchise and give it the edgier credibility it needed to hook a new generation of fans and score the franchise's biggest box office — $588 million worldwide. (Don't cry for Purvis and Wade; they keep getting the Bond assignments and they're writing the new "Barbarella" screenplay that Robert Rodriguez just signed on to direct for Universal on Monday.)

The state of EastEnders

EastEnders recently got its lowest ever audience share, but is it as bad as people as some people make out, asks Caitlin Moran in The Times.
I watched this week’s quartet of ’Stenders, and it’s really quite good. Honestly. The green shoots of recovery are all over Albert Square. Monday’s episode starts quite badly – Phil Mitchell is called upon to save the life of a drowning child, and does it by wobbling the kid around on the ground in the manner of a dog searching for a treat in its owner’s pocket. But there are all kinds of long-term plot-threads yielding the occasional fleck of pure gold.
Update: In The Guardian, Mark Lawson considers the show's latest trailers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Advance plotting

On The Guardian Books blog, Neil Griffiths explains why he never plots stories before writing them.
Although I would like to think there are as many varieties of writer as there are writers, there really are only two: those who plan and structure (to whatever degree) before they start and those who don't. I am the latter. Actually, I like to think of myself as a torchbearer (or is that trailblazer?) for this minority group (we are a minority group, I'm sure), because I reckon I do the least planning and preparation of any writer out there.

More Guild events

Soap Writers' Forum

If you're currently writing for any long running TV drama series or soaps, whether writing your own original work or episodes of existing series, The Writers' Guild invites you to join us for the Soap Writers' Forum on Tuesday 3rd July at The Writers' Guild Centre from 7.00 pm - 9pm.

The Guild's Television Committee is currently working on a Good Practice Guide and we want to get an overall and realistic picture of what it is like to work on major TV continuing drama series today. Come along and share your experiences whether you've been writing for soaps and drama series for a while or you're new to this area. The event is free and open to all working TV writers, Guild members and non-members.

If you would like to attend the forum please email Moe at: or contact the Guild Office on 0207 833 0777

Writers’ Guild Variety Nights

The Writers' Guild Variety Nights are back from Tuesday 10th July from 7.00pm - 9.30pm.

Writers' Guild Variety Nights are a series of regular events at which writers can showcase their work, or just come along and network with each other, in an informal 'industry' environment.

Whether you are a performance poet, a novelist with a desire to share your latest chapter, a playwright with a favourite scene, a budding comic or you feel you could come along and be an enthusiastic audience member - we want to hear from you!

Performance slots are open to everyone but Guild members are given preference. Each performer will be given a five minute slot. Tickets cost £2 for Guild members and £3 non-members and will be sold on the door but places are limited so please book in advance. If you would like to attend please email Moe at : or contact the Guild office on 0207 833 0777.

Rehearsed Readings at the Guild

Writers' Guild and Equity Rehearsed Readings continue with A Friend of Ronnie's by David Barry and Taste by Dick Sharples.

A Friend of Ronnie's :
"Susan is doing research for a book on the Great Train Robbery. She interviews Arthur, one of the last surviving participants, who reveals a little about the robbery and a lot about himself."

Taste :
"An elderly couple who have sold their house keep returning - to the distress of the new resident. "

A Friend of Ronnie' s and Taste will be read from 7.30pm on Wednesday 18th July at the Writers' Guild Centre. Tickets cost: £6 (members of the Writers' Guild and Equity) or £8 (non-members), including a free glass of wine. To book a ticket please email Anne at : or contact the Guild office on 0207 833 0777.

All events will be held at Writers’ Guild Centre, 17 Britannia Street, Kings Cross, London WC1X 9JN.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Poetry, Style and Verse

The Writers' Guild presents Poetry, Style and Verse to be held at the Writers’ Guild Centre on Tuesday, 4th September 2007 from 7pm – 9:30pm

Do you want to find out more about the different styles of poetry? Are you interested in becoming part of the poetry scene? This Guild event will help demystify the new, emerging as well as traditional poetry forms.

The evening will involve a discussion which will be followed by individual performances from our panel members and special guests. Speakers and special guests will be announced shortly, please keep an eye on the e-bulletin for further details.

Tickets for this event will be £5 for Guild members and £7.50 for non-members. Please join us after the event for a free glass of wine and a chance to mingle with fellow guests. Places are limited so please book in advance through the Guild office. If you would like to attend this exciting poetry event please send a cheque payable to the Writers' Guild, to ‘Poetry Event ’, Writers' Guild of Great Britain, 15-17 Britannia Street, London, WC1X 9JN.

Animation Writers’ Forum – free event

Are you an animation writer? Are in interested in becoming one but don’t know how to get started? The Writers’ Guild will be hosting an Animation Writers' Forum on Thursday June 28th from 7pm-9:30pm at the Writers' Guild Centre in Kings Cross.

The animation guidelines (pdf) published by the Guild are now five years old, so if you are you already working in this field and want to discuss ways to improve it do come along. Guild member and experienced animation writer James Mason will be leading the discussion.

The event is free for members and non-members. If you would like to attend the forum please contact or call the Guild Office on 0207 833 0777.

Battle for books copyright

On The Guardian Books blog, Nicholas Clee looks at why new print on demand technology means that publishers are looking to retain copyright even when a book goes out of print.
Standard contracts allow rights to revert to the author if a book goes out of print and if the publisher shows no inclination to reprint it. That made sense when the only way to publish a book was to order at least several hundred copies from a printer. But digital technology is changing the business. Books can be held in digital files, to be downloaded or to be printed on demand. They need never be unavailable. What, then, becomes the definition of "out of print"?

Hollyoaks under Kirkwood

In Media Guardian (free registration required) Stephen Armstrong talks to Hollyoaks Producer, Bryan Kirkwood, about the show's revival.
Kirkwood, 31, joined the show in January 2006 straight from the Coronation Street writers' room where he'd worked on Richard Hillman's killing spree and Peter and Shelly's bigamous marriage. When he arrived, it's fair to say the Hollyoaks awards cupboard was a fairly dusty place - one win in 2005, two in 2006.

He set about changing the show from the ground up, losing half the writers' room and some 15 cast members. "Hollyoaks used to have a reputation for blonde blandness," he says. "I don't have a problem with really good-looking actors, but I do want them to be able to act. We replaced the departing writers with some strong talent from the Liverpool theatre scene because a soap is only as strong as its storylines. I want to make Hollyoaks credible and cool like The OC and Dawson's Creek. That's where I see its future."


Winners at last night's BAFTA TV Awards included:
  • Single Drama - Housewife 49 (written by Victoria Wood)
  • Drama Series - The Street (lead writer Jimmy McGovern; episodes also written by Alan Field, Marc Pye, James Quirk and Arthur Ellison)
  • Drama Serial - See No Evil: The Moors Murders (written by Neil McKay)
  • Continuing Drama - Casualty (see IMDB for writing credits)
In addition, Richard Curtis was awarded the Academy Fellowship.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Essential resource sites

For the Writers Guild of America west, Elliot Feldman has compiled a list of the Top 10 writers' resource sites. Feel free to add your own suggestions.

Munday wins TMA award

Donna Munday, chief executive of Royal & Derngate in Northampton, has been named Manager of the Year at the Theatrical Management Association Management Awards, reports Nuala Calvi in The Stage.
The future of the venues looked bleak in January, after Northampton Borough Council decided to reduce their grant by £600,000 over three years.

Northamptonshire County Council stepped in with a temporary lifeline for 2007/8 but the future funding situation remains uncertain.

Brits up for Tony Award

Two British writers, Tom Stoppard (Coast Of Utopia) and Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), have been nominated for Best Play in the 2007 Tony Awards. The Tonys are Broadway's highest profile theatrical accolade. The other Best Play nominations are The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane and Radio Golf by August Wilson.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Channel 4: Four Days In June

As part of their 25th anniversary celebrations, Channel 4 is holding a series of events in London next month, under the heading Four Days In June. The closing date for applications is 28 May.
Live and direct from Channel 4's HQ in London, an exclusive chance to draw wisdom from world-class figures in film, comedy and multimedia. You can even pitch us a TV programme.
What's the hook?

Members of the public will have the opportunity to attend seminars and masterclasses with various Channel 4 commissioning executives, high-profile on- and off-screen talent - including Academy Award-winning film director Kevin Macdonald; double BAFTA-winning writer Peter Morgan; producer and writer of The Office, Ash Atalla; Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, and internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox - plus a selection of leading independent production companies.

25 UK authors of the future

Waterstones has compiled a list of 25 UK authors of the future, reports BBC News.
Publishers, editors and agents were asked to nominate the current and emerging authors most likely to make an impact over the next 25 years.

More than 100 names were submitted. Waterstone's selected the final list of 13 women and 12 men, drawn up to mark the bookseller's 25 years in business.

Online script services

Two new online script services have recently been launched, giving writers the chance to pitch scripts and get feedback from their peers.

Guild member George Hopkin has set up In George's own words:
It's completely free, of course, and aims to be a fuss-free forum for would-be, fledgling and experienced indie UK filmmakers alike looking to share leads, hints and tips and
track down the day-to-day stuff and resources required to produce low- and no-budget work.

It also takes a relaxed attitude to self-promotion - there's a forum dedicated to blatant self promotion - and companies and organisations are encouraged to plug their own events, contests, what-have you.

It has an entire section dedicated to the needs of screenwriters, who are encouraged to promote themselves and their work and perhaps discuss UK opportunities in a way which isn't often seen on this side of The Pond.
The second service, Open Spectrum, is a commercial site, focused solely on screenwriting. In their own words:
Open Spectrum is a unique and free-to-join online community that provides the platform for Writers and Film-makers to converge, collaborate and produce. The site operates on a peer reviewing system that allows all members to review and rate each others scripts to produce a Monthly Top Ten. Writers receive invaluable, impartial feedback to help write that next draft which will move the script closer to the Monthly Top Ten – the perfect way for producers and film-makers to find the writers and scripts they want.
While it's free to join Open Spectrum, you do have to pay to upload scripts (between £2.99 and £5.99) - although, for a limited time following the launch, all services, including script registration, are free.

It would be interesting to hear what Guild blog readers make of these services, and what experiences people have of other online forums and peer-review sites.

Cussler case verdict

Thanks to Stephen Gallagher for pointing out that after eight days of deliberations the jury in the Clive Cussler versus Philip Anschutz case finally reached a verdict on Tuesday. Novelist Cussler had argued that Anschutz, who owns Crusader Entertainment, went back on contractual agreements during the making of Sahara. Crusader countersued, claiming that Cussler had made unreasonable script demands harmed the project.

As reports, the jury's decision left both sides claiming victory.
"We're $3.5 million ahead and Clive got his rights back," said veteran showbiz litigator Bert Fields, who represented Cussler. Fields added that because of the jury's finding that Cussler intentionally misrepresented book sales, he would not rule out an appeal.

[Crusader's attorney, Martin]Putnam maintained that Crusader was vindicated because of the findings of Cussler's intentional misconduct and the fact that the only damages definitely awarded at this point were the $5 million to Crusader.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Films at Cannes

If you're going to Cannes this week or next, don't forget that there are films showing. If you get time between meetings, here are Peter Bradshaw's selections. (If nothing else, you'll be able to spend the next 12 months saying, "I saw that at Cannes" whenever a new film opens.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The perils of coincidence

On his blog, screenwriter John August argues that a reliance on coincidence undermines Spider-Man 3.
My point is not to rip on Spider-Man 3, but to urge readers to look at their own scripts with an eye towards coincidence. If you’ve written a treatment, search for the following phrases: “at the same time,” “accidentally,” “luckily,” “unfortunately,” and “meanwhile.” They’re often a tip-off that you have events happening by coincidence. There’s almost always a better alternative.

ABC goes for drama and comedy

It seems that reality TV has not quite killed off (officially) scripted shows: American TV network ABC will today announce the commissioning of seven new drama series and four new comedies, report Bill Carter and Jacques Steinberg in The New York Times.
The new series that is already generating the most positive talk, both inside and outside ABC, is a quirky romantic hourlong comedy-drama called “Pushing Daisies,”about a young man who discovers — to the advantage of a homicide detective — that with a touch he can both raise the dead and send them back again. His power complicates his relationship with a young woman he can love only unrequitedly. Lee Pace and Anna Friel play the couple, supported by Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth [it's created by Bryan Fuller].

Plundering the DVD back-catalogue

The Wire

A mere five years after it first aired in America I finally got round to watching the first ever episode of The Wire (created by David Simon) on DVD last night. Like everyone says, it's great. Wonderfully understated writing and acting that simmer with tension and intrigue.

Does anyone have any other TV-on-DVD recommendations to share? My top three would be Heimat (by Edgar Reitz), Deadwood (created by David Milch) and Carnivàle (created by Daniel Knauf).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Has BBC new media stalled?

In Media Guardian (free registration required), Bobbie Johnson asks whether the BBC's ambitious plans for new media services have been derailed.
After years of being technologically ahead of its rivals in both the public and private sector, people at the heart of the corporation say that it is paralysed by fear, and innovation has been crippled by a power struggle between different factions.

As a result, the corporation is suffering a brain drain as bright technologists quit for fresh - and less frustrating - pastures. A decade after leading the dotcom charge, the BBC is in danger of falling into a dot coma from which it may never awake.

Rehearsed reading: Bogdan's War by Jeremy Paul

If you're free tonight, why not go along to the Writers' Guild Centre at 7.30pm for a rehearsed reading of a new play, Bogdan's War, by Jeremy Paul.

Jeremy writes:
Searching for something personal to say about war when watching NATO bomb Baghdad to get rid of Saddam Hussein, I stumbled on a diary extract by the Serbian film director and writer Jasmina Tesanovic (Granta 67). It was her moving and harrowing account of living in the heart of Belgrade which NATO were bombing to get rid of Milosevic, 1999. Same difference and it triggered my play ‘BOGDAN’S WAR’.

What can it be like under the bombs of ‘friendly fire’? We engage with Tomas, a cartoonist, Galina his partner, their friends Jiri (half Czech) and Bogdan (a monkey-bear). Rade, Galina’s former husband, now one of Milosevic’s inner circle turns up with his 13 year old son. What happens to relationships? Who survives?

We’re reading the play this Monday, May 14 at the Writers Guild Centre, 7.30. Come and join us.

The Guild in Cannes

Guild Deputy General Secretary Anne Hogben writes:
There is now a growing number of members of the Writers’ Guild attending the Cannes Film Festival. If you are going to Cannes next week and would like to be kept in an email loop with fellow Guild members please send an email to There will be a daily meet-up point at the UK Film Council pavilion at 6.00 pm so do drop by to meet up and have a chat.
The 60th Cannes Film Festival runs from 16–27 May 2007.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Archers audience grows

The ArchersBrian Hewlett and Charlotte Martin (who play Neil and Susan Carter) recording The Archers (Photo: Stuart Wood / BBC)

Good news for Ambridge, reports Matthew Hemley in The Stage.
Long-running radio soap The Archers has recorded its biggest listening figures since 2005... In the latest set of Rajars - the system used to monitor listening habits across both commercial and BBC radio - the BBC Radio 4 soap drew in 4.77 million people a week in the first quarter of this year...The BBC said the figures were the best the soap had recorded since the third quarter of 2005.

Bristol Old Vic to close for good?

On The Guardian's Theatre blog, Lyn Gardner reports on unexpected news from the Bristol Old Vic.
Bad news this evening from Bristol Old Vic - the oldest continuously running theatre in the country - which is to close its doors at the end of July. About 60 jobs are to go and artistic director Simon Reade is to depart. The question is this: will the doors ever open again on one of the most beautiful theatres in the country? The hurried and ungainly way in which this decision has been made and announced by the Bristol Old Vic board suggests that there is every reason to be concerned.

The decision was apparently made at an emergency board meeting on Friday. In a statement justifying its action, only just released, the board say that the reason is the need for a long-overdue refurbishment. But this seems extremely odd behaviour for a theatre which has already announced the opening production of its autumn season and printed details in its brochure.

What comes after Albrecht at HBO?

After the departure of its Chairman and Chief Executive, Chris Albert, US cable channel HBO faces an uncertain future, reports The New York Times.
Albrecht has been credited for engineering a stellar run of critically acclaimed, popular original programs, including ``The Sopranos,'' ``Sex and the City'' and ``Six Feet Under.'' The hits made HBO a dominant force at the Emmys going back to the 1990s and fueled HBO's robust audience base of more than 28 million subscribers.

But critics have carped in recent years that HBO was beginning to lose its magic touch. HBO's biggest hit of all, ''The Sopranos,'' is scheduled to end its run next month, and a fleet of untested new series will arrive in its wake. In addition, HBO has only taken tentative steps in the digital arena transforming the media business, a challenge Albrecht had declared a top priority.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Makeover for Mills & Boon

Mills & Boon is planning a summer revamp, reports Publishing News. In the lead up to its centenary next year the romance series will feature new cover designs and a new logo and strapline, “Pure reading pleasure”. (NB The cover shown here is not one of the new designs - they're yet to be released.)
Clare Somerville, Retail Marketing and Sales Director, said: “Mills & Boon is a British cultural phenomenon which has given pleasure to millions of readers around the world. The centenary affords us the opportunity to celebrate the enduring popularity of the genre through decades of change, exploring its literary heritage and its evolution into the 21st century. What other publishing imprint has become a household name synonymous with romance, excitement and emotional fulfilment?”

Movies that make men cry

On Creative Screenwriting (follow link and scroll down the page), Ari Eisner looks at seven films that make men cry.
Although the concept of masculinity and weeping uncontrollably are considered to be opposing forces, there are motion pictures that transcend this notion. These are specifically not macho movies... No, these films, more cerebral than sappy, rely on an audience's sympathy and identification with its story and characters to somehow disarm the male psyche.

Rose d'Or winners

There were a number of British winners at the Rose d'Or TV Festival in Switzerland last night, with Welsh-language drama, Con Passionate (S4C), winning the soap category.

Not Going Out (BBC 1), written by Lee Mack and Andrew Collins won best sitcom and The Vicar of Dibley (BBC 1), written by Richard Curtis, won best comedy series.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Meet the agents event sold out

The Guild's Meet The Agents event on 31 May has now sold out.

There'll be a report on the Guild's website after the event, and a repeat performance is planned for the autumn.

Simon & Schuster launch digital video channel

In yet another sign of the convergence between publishing and the Internet, Simon & Schuster Inc. announced that it is launching a digital video channel to promote the company's authors and forthcoming releases. The publisher, working in concert with TurnHere Inc., a leading Internet video company, will begin offering the service next month.

The channel, to be called, will be available at a major online video site and will also be linked to several other sites, including the publisher's own
More from Josh Getlin in The LA Times (free registration required).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Creating Holby Blue

Holby Blue trailer

In Media Guardian (free registration required), Tony Jordan explains how he came to write the new BBC police series, Holby Blue, which starts tonight.
I don't know about you, but I don't worry too much about being blown up; my main concern is not getting mugged on the way back from the chippy. So this would be my new show. While the powers that be look toward the threat of terrorism, my characters would combat the threat much closer to home. They would look in dismay at the 20 armed police officers at the airport, taking bottles of water off little old ladies bound for Benidorm and wonder why they only have three unarmed officers patrolling the streets of an area housing 17,000 people: modern-day heroes, fighting not only the crime that scars our once green and pleasant land, but also the bureaucracy that seems to be designed specifically to prevent them from doing just that.
Update: In an interview with The Stage, Tony Jordan has criticised the increase in EastEnders episode. He worked on the show for 18 years until leaving earlier this year.
“If you are producing two-and-a-half hours a week television it’s basically a movie a week and some things suffer for that.

“EastEnders is going through the doldrums a little bit lately, but the one thing about EastEnders is that it will always come back because there is a great team of people working in it.”
He also told The Stage that he was hoping to run a writing competition later in the year.

The dangers of reviewing

In The Telegraph, novelist Lionel Shriver reveals the perils of moonlighting as a critic.
Tossing off reviews of other people's novels when I'm poised to receive reviews of my own feels like throwing knives in a rubber room. Since in this trade one is often appraised by fellow novelists, my last lacerating one-liner might bounce right back and stab me between the eyes.

Al Hunter Ashton 1957-2007

From the Guild's e-bulletin:
Former Guild member Al Hunter Ashton died on Friday 27th April.

He was previously an active member of the Guild and was well known for his many acting roles. During his long career as a writer Al won the prestigious Prix Europa and the Monte Carlo Golden Nymph for two of his films: The Firm starring Gary Oldman and Alive and Kicking starring Lenny Henry and Robbie Coltrane. There was also a BAFTA for his controversial film about homeless kids called Safe. He appeared in and wrote for Brokers Man for BBC 1 alongside Kevin Whately, a close friend.

As a regular writer for Doctors, EastEnders and Holby City, Al kept himself busy. In between all this work Al still managed to write and appear in his own children's TV series: See How They Run! [written with award winning TV Director Tim O'Mara] which won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Children's drama, and the Australian Film Institute award for the same category. The series was also BAFTA nominated as was Al for his first attempt at directing - a 30 minute drama called Alison for the BBC Scene strand which remains the most repeated Drama on BBC schools TV to this day.
There are obituaries in The Independent and The Stage.

An online book of condolences has been set up on Al Hunter Ashton's website.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Your ALCS money

Gail Renard, Chair of the Guild's TV Committee and WGGB nominated Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) director, offers a brief reminder to Guild members.
We all like receiving our ALCS money which, may I remind everyone, is not our privilege but our right. Secondary royalties are part of our contracts and agreements, and we have to make sure we collect every penny owing to us.

ALCS do everything in their power to unite writers with their money, but they’re not omnipotent, and oversights can happen. So the onus should be on us, the writers, to be ever-alert and make sure that all of that our works, past and present, are listed. You can do this easily on-line or by letter. Or if you have any queries, phone them. They’re writer-friendly. It really is worth your while (and your income) to surf onto the ALCS website.

Do read carefully the sort of works you can list. You’d be surprised at the diversity and you can claim for most things, barring a note to your milkman. And who amongst us doesn’t want to earn more money?

Wireless and Boundless

The Script Factory has formed a new partnership with BBC Radio Drama to run a project called Wireless and Boundless.

The first event is an Information Day for screenwriters in London on 7 June and an opportunity to participate in a radio drama writing masterclass.

Full details about how to apply are on the Script Factory website. The closing date for applications is 24 May.

Philip Ridley interview

In The Independent, Paul Taylor talks to Philip Ridley about his new play, Leaves Of Glass, and why the critics misunderstood his previous play, Mercury Fur.
Mercury Fur imagines a world where drugs are rotting people's mental ties to the past. Leaves of Glass, which again focuses on the relationship between two brothers, looks at how coping with the effects of monstrous trauma can warp the stories that a family tells about itself. "I suppose it comes from what I am going through in terms of my own life," Ridley explains, "reaching that stage where you're thinking about childhood and adolescence and your journey with the family and you realise that every member has a different angle on what the truth is."

Leaves of Glass is at the Soho Theatre, London W1 until 26 May.

M. John Harrison wins Arthur C. Clarke Award

Nova Swing by M. John Harrison has won the 2007 Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s leading prize for science fiction literature.

The announcement was made at in London as part of an event to mark the opening of this year’s Sci-Fi-London Film Festival.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights trailer

In The Guardian, Sarah Hughes sings the praises of American drama series Friday Night Lights (adapted by Peter Berg, Brian Grazer and David Nevins from the book by H.G. Bissinger).
It might not be anything we'd recognise but Friday Night Lights rings true to its small-town setting. Nor is it just the kids, all inarticulate mumbling, who are well drawn. The adults too, from Lyla's competitive, hypocritical father to the coach and his down-to-earth wife, are recognisable characters not barely present stereotypes.

Yet despite this barely anyone is watching Friday Night Lights in the UK. Part of the blame for this must lie with ITV who having bought one of America's most critically acclaimed programmes - it recently won a Peabody Award for drama - chose to bury it at 8pm on ITV4 where it nestles uneasily among such programmes as Police! Lights! Action!. An odd bit of quality amid ITV4's interesting attempt to become Bravo redux.

In conversation with David Edgar

The Writers' Guild presents "In conversation with David Edgar" on Thursday June 7th from 7pm to at the Writers' Guild Centre in Kings Cross .

Guild member David Edgar is a playwright and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His recent works include Albert Speer, based on Gitta Sereny's biography of Hitler's architect, first staged at the Royal National Theatre, and The Prisoner's Dilemma, an exploration of the nature of modern conflict, for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He continues to write for the stage, radio and television and has taught at Birmingham University since 1989.

David will be interviewed by David James, chair of the Guild's Theatre Committee.

Tickets for this event will be £5 for Guild members and £7.50 for non-members. Please join us after the event for a free glass of wine and a chance to mingle with fellow guests. Places are limited so please book in advance through the Guild office.

To book please send a cheque payable to the Writers' Guild, to 'In conversation with David Edgar', Writers' Guild of Great Britain, 15-17 Britannia Street, Kings Cross, London , WC1X 9JN.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Channel 4 profits slump

Channel 4 has blamed a drop in advertising revenues and higher spending on digital TV for a 70% slump in profits to £14.5m during 2006.

C4 added that the figures showed it needed extra state funding, or it would have to screen more commercial shows at the expense of public service content.
More from BBC News.

Update, from Matthew Hemley in The Stage.
Channel 4 director of programmes and content, Kevin Lygo, has warned that declining advertising revenues are likely to impact on future programmes.
Kevin Lygo, Channel 4's Director of Programmes

He told The Stage “Our drama is really successful and it is in good health, but it is always linked to how much income we get from advertising. Drama gets affected if there is a reduction there.”

Sony Radio Awards

The Sony Gold Award for drama has been won by Lorilei - written by Tom Wright, produced and directed by Anna Galvin and Kerry Shale.

The Gold Award for Comedy was won by 1966 And All That - written by Craig Brown, produced by Victoria Lloyd.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Autism on screen

In The New York Times, Caryn James looks at the recent clutch of films featuring central characters who are autistic.
Depicting autism from the inside out may be more difficult on screen [than in fiction], but it is also true that films have rarely tried. Awareness of autism has seeped into the culture enough to make it a handy metaphor. But while the autistic savant of “Rain Man” seemed alien from most viewers, more recent characters are often just a shade beyond quirky, with emotional problems that are like anyone else’s, only more extreme. Focused intently on the way “they” are like “us,” these films may not do much to increase understanding of autism at all.

BBC's iPlayer gets go-ahead

BBC shows such as Doctor Who and EastEnders are to be made available on-demand after the BBC's iPlayer service was given the green light.

The service - which will launch later this year - allows viewers to watch programmes online for seven days after their first TV broadcast.

Episodes can also be downloaded and stored for up to 30 days.
More from BBC News.