Tuesday, January 20, 2009

David Hare on the BBC

In The Guardian there's an edited transcript of Michael Billington talking to David Hare about his writing career and the state of TV drama.
It's a very depressing approach to drama because the imagination has no currency. Whereas with Wednesday Plays and Plays for Today, the audience set off without the slightest idea of what they were going to see. Also, remember, everyone wanted to work in television because you were joining a tradition - plays by people like Neville Smith and Nell Dunn and Tom Clarke, who all wrote brilliant plays. At BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham, in the canteen you'd have lunch with Alan Bleasdale, Willy Russell and Mike Leigh, and you could talk about work. That culture has vanished.


  1. Anonymous11:53 am

    Familiar, tedious accusation. The world, the audience and the form have moved on. Television is no longer theatre on film. It has its own developing, varied, ever-shifting forms (eg State of Play, which Hare praises elsewhere in the article as the best writing in any medium that year. ).

    And the culture of writers socialising and exchanging creative ideas hasn't vanished. The people have changed. And it might not be in the Pebble Mill canteen -- it's in pubs and cafes near indie companies.

    There's no denying the era of the Wednesday Play and Play for Today was wonderful for writers. But you don't automatically have to denigrate the present in order to praise the past. Both have pro's and con's.

  2. Yes both have their merits but there's no arguing that there is far less scope for writers of original works. About 90% of the BBC's drama output consists of soaps and long running series. Well written as some of these are, there's much less opportunity for writers to create original works with their own voice... which is why most people became writers in the first place. And fewer people will be encouraged to create original series; the BBC now wants to own as many formats in-house as possible. And when a committee of non-writers, accountants and focus groups create something, you don't end up with State Of Play.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.