Friday, February 27, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

JESSE ARMSTRONG and SAM BAIN wrote the episode of The Old Guys "The Croft" going out on BBC1 at 9:40pm on Saturday 28th February.

PERRIE BALTHAZAR wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on 6:30pm on Monday 2nd March.

RAY BROOKING wrote the episode of Doctors "Dem Bones" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Monday 2nd March.

JOHN CHAMBERS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 3rd March.

SIMON CROWTHER wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 6th March.

TIM DYNEVOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 6th March.

Casanova Undone by DIC EDWARDS will begin a month-long run at That Theatre in Copenhagen from Thursday 26th February.

JOHN FINNEMORE'S sitcom Cabin Pressure continues on Radio 4 with the episode "Boston" going out at 6:30pm on Tuesday 3rd March.

ADRIAN FLYNN wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 1st till Friday 6th March with each episode being repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

JEREMY FRONT'S dramatization of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop going out on Radio 4 at 9:00pm on Saturday 28th February.

JONATHAN HARVEY's BBC2 comedy Beautiful People has been sold to US gay and lesbian network Logo.

LISA HOLDSWORTH wrote the episode of New Tricks "Nine Lives" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 5th March.

MICHAEL JENNER wrote the episode of Waterloo Road going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Wednesday 4th March.

JULIE JONES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 6th March.

DAVID MCDERMOTT wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 2nd March.

PAUL MYATT wrote the episode of Doctors "Bad Blood" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Thursday 5th March.

JESSE O'MAHONEY wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 6th March.

ASHLEY PHARAOH wrote the episode of Wild at Heart going out on ITV1 at 8:15pm on Sunday 1st March.

MARTIN RILEY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Thursday 5th March.

HEATHER ROBSON wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 3rd March.

BILL TAYLOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 4th March.

STEVE TRAFFORD wrote the episode of The Bill "Bail Me Out" going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Thursday 5th March.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Wednesday 4th March.

STEPHEN WYATT'S dramatization of The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith goes out on Radio 4 at 2:30pm on Saturday 28th February. His dramatization of The Yellowplush Papers by William Makepeace Thackeray also continues with "My Novel" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 2nd March.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Arts Council England restructures

From the Arts Council England press release:
Arts Council England today announced details of a proposed organisation-wide restructure that will save £6.5 million a year in administration costs and invest these savings in the arts.

Having already made savings of £9.6 million a year in running costs since 2002, through a programme of reform and improvement, making these further savings has required a major restructuring of the whole organisation.

The proposed changes will meet the government’s requirement that the Arts Council saves 15 per cent on its grant in aid administration costs by 2010. The Arts Council decided that it should also find equivalent savings on its National Lottery administration costs, making a total saving of £6.5 million a year.

This major review has also given the Arts Council the opportunity to address the recommendations of the July 2008 McIntosh report and our Chief Executive’s vision for the organisation, arising out of his response to that report.

The principal changes contained in the proposal include:
  • an overall reduction in staff numbers across the organisation of 24 per cent
  • nine streamlined regional offices grouped in four areas – North; Midlands and South West; East and South East; London
  • a smaller head office, which will also co-locate with the London regional office
  • a smaller executive board – nine members instead of 14
  • a centralised Grants for the arts team based in Manchester
  • a staffing structure redefined to place an increased focus on customer relationships
Although staff numbers are substantially reduced, the proposed new structure allows people to share resources and knowledge in a more flexible way across the organisation. Processes are also made simpler with, for example, a centralised Grants for the arts team based with the support services centre in Manchester. Less process work will allow staff in the regions to spend more time on customer-focused activities and the proposed smaller executive board will be more strategically focused and able to make faster decisions.

E-Commissioning at the BBC

A guest post by Naomi MacDonald, the Guild's Assistant General Secretary

The BBC has updated its commissioning process by introducing an online system for submitting proposals. The BBC says that e-Commissioning enables them to handle the 10,000 proposals they receive per year faster and more efficiently. They also say that the e-Commissioning system will not replace creative conversations with producers and that it is designed "simply to make the process of filtering and comparing ideas much easier".

Well, what do you think?

One member told us " It's the very nature of the system that is the problem, dreamt up by people who seem to have no understanding of writers at all. It just seems to put paid to the possibility of developing any sort of creative relationship."

Another told us that she managed to register for the system quite easily but got in a pickle trying to submit her pitch. On the other hand, we've heard from writers who found the process complicated the first time but found it easier once they'd got the hang of it.

What is your experience of the system? Is it more efficient and does it work for individual writers? Please leave your comments below.

Alternatively, if you'd like to send your comments to the Guild office anonymously, then please email

We want to hear from you!

ITV proposes merger with C4 and Five

From James Robinson in Media Guardian:
ITV has drawn up a radical plan for a three-way merger with Channel 4 and Channel Five that would prompt one of the biggest shakeups in British broadcasting history.

Executives from ITV, which is expected to report a huge drop in profits when it unveils its annual results for 2008 next week, believe merging the UK's three main advertiser-funded commercial broadcasters may be the only way to guarantee its survival in the face of the most challenging market conditions for a generation
Update (27.02.2009): From Broadcast:
Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson has said he would rather see the channel fully privatised than suffer the "part privatisation by stealth" of a merger with a rival broadcaster.

Speaking at the Media Summit the day after ITV proposed a merger with C4 and Five, Johnson reiterated his preference of a joint venture with BBC Worldwide to support C4's future as a commercially-funded public service broadcaster.

Mark Andrew Smith interview

new brightonOn the Geek Dad blog, Dave Banks speaks to up-and-coming comics book author Mark Andrew Smith, writer of Aqua Leung and editor of Popgun, about his new book, The New Brighton Archeological Society. He's not short of self-belief.
The manner in which I hit story points and pace my story, these are some of the signature things that I do as a storyteller, and I do them well. I always hope that what I'm doing as a writer feels like it's new and exciting, that hasn't been done before, that it is something that people will respond to, and that it becomes infectious and word of it spreads like wildfire. We'll see how I do with everything. The New Brighton Archeological Society is the real deal and it's very well done.

The Kindle and the future

On his blog, Seth Godin suggests some innovations that could make the Kindle, Amazon's electronic reader, truly revolutionary.
It's pretty simple: many book publishers look at this new medium and ask, "how can I use it to augment my current business model." I'd like Amazon to challenge that thinking and say to the world, "how can you use this platform to create a new business model?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writers support Equity campaign for roles for older women

In The Stage, Matthew Hemley reports on writers' support for Equity's campaign for more female roles on the small screen.
The writers, who are all members of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, said their scripts are often rejected or have to be rewritten completely if they feature women who are over 40, and have claimed commissioners are only interested in younger female characters who are “slim and attractive”.

Gail Renard, chair of the television committee at the Writers’ Guild, told The Stage she had once submitted a pilot for a BBC show featuring actresses in their 30s and 40s, but was asked by a producer to change the characters so that they were in their 20s, which she claimed had “killed the whole idea”.

Practising to be a genius

Browsing through the Freakonomics blog recently, I found myself following the links to a profile of psychologist Anders Ericsson, the man behind some of the research that informed Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers.

As summarised by Shelley Gare in the article in The Australian, Ericsson's most famous hypothesis is simple enough:
For him, deliberate practice is the magic bullet that takes someone into the stratosphere of brilliance, whether they're golfers or ballet stars, business tycoons or doctors. Not innate talent, which he's not sure even exists, but practice, albeit practice of a particular, concentrated, gruelling kind.
So it's not just any old practice, but 'deliberate practice'.
...what makes someone spectacular in their field - and keeps them there - is training via a kind of focused, repetitive practice in which the subject is always monitoring his or her performance, correcting, experimenting, listening to immediate and constant feedback, and always pushing beyond what has already been achieved.

Back in November last year, Piers Beckley blogged on the subject in relation to writing.

My thesis... backed up by Gladwell, is that hard work is it. There's no magic spark, no such thing as god-given genius. Just bloody hard work over a period of years.
Do you agree? Is deliberate practice the key for writers? If so, what, for writers, does deliberate practice mean?

Mike Leigh's Oscar diary

In The Guardian, Guild member Mike Leigh, shortlisted for an American Academy Award for his screenplay for Happy-Go-Lucky, shares his Oscar diary.
What a strange, surreal experience it is. A tremendous honour to be nominated - but then you trek across the planet, you squeeze into your tux, you squeeze into a stretch limo, you squeeze through the security tent on to the jam-packed, chaotic red carpet, and then you sit through a very long show (which turns out this year to be far less tacky and schmaltzy than usual). At one, weird moment, some strange force suddenly convinces you that you're about to win, while you affect to look benign and generous for the camera that's suddenly in your face; then you don't win, and you spend the rest of the night trying to be grown-up and sporting. You even try to enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bringing Watchmen to the screen

In The Telegraph, Craig McLean traces the long and winding road taken by The Watchmen from a comic book series written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, to the screen.
'Watchmen has been done with a completely different mindset to the other [adaptations],' Gibbons says. 'I would think that if Alan ever did watch this – and he probably won't – this would be the one that he would be least displeased with.'

'Watchmen' is released in the UK on 6 March.

John Grogan on Marley & Me

In The Times, Kevin Maher talks to John Grogan about how his novel Marley & Me has become a hit film.
The greatest misconception, he says, surrounding the entire Marley phenomenon is that it’s simply about a naughty but loveable dog. “People respond differently to this story,” he explains. “There’s the core audience who are [does Southern drawl] ‘Ah love that story, and ah love ma dawg’. Then there’s another audience who get the bigger picture involving me and Jen, as a couple. But then finally, there’s an audience that sees the more metaphysical overarching themes.”

Marley & Me, adapted by Scott Frank and Don Roos, will be released in the UK on 13 March.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Law & Order: UK

A British re-make of the long-running US series Law & Order airs on ITV1 tonight. In The Telegraph, Matt Warman talks to the shows creator, Dick Wolf.
...the formula that has made Law & Order such a success in the US has not been tampered with. The show combines a police procedural with the more complex dilemmas of mounting a successful prosecution. Audiences are drawn in by a relatively straightforward attempt to catch criminals. But it’s the subsequent legal complexities that allow Law & Order to tackle broader themes.

Wolf maintains that because of this complexity “now more than ever, Law & Order is the smartest drama left on television. The first half of this show is a murder mystery and the second half is a moral mystery.”
The lead writer for Law & Order: UK is Chris Chibnall. In the ITV press release (Word doc) he explains his approach.
"I was looking for stories that I connected with emotionally, that had great opportunities for characterisation, and that felt relevant to Britain today. I watched about 150 episodes of the US Law & Order. Dick Wolf sent over a list of his favourite episodes and I watched all of seasons one to six, plus a number of episodes from seasons seven, eight and nine. It’s a very addictive show so it’s great to be getting paid to sit and watch them.”

Talking of the difficulties in adapting a US series for the UK, Chris says: “We are vigilant about being faithful to the Law & Order format, while also making sure that it feels fresh, modern and British as well. The stories have got to stand up strong in their own right, so you’re constantly making sure that the characters are interesting and original and are rooted in this country. There is always a balancing act between making sure the stories are authentic from a legal perspective but also that they are dramatic. We sometimes had the issue of legal procedure which is different between the two countries. You had to be constantly vigilant, while honoring the source material and making sure the drama is as exciting as it can be for a British audience. ”

Last chance to complete blog survey

I'll be closing the short survey about the WGGB blog at the end of the week so, if you've not had a chance to complete it yet, please do.

I'll post the results next week.

Slumdog's Oscar triumph

Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars last night, and became the first solely-British financed film to win Best Picture at the American Academy Awards since Hamlet in 1948.

Simon Beaufoy won the prize for Writing (Adapted Screenplay) for his Slumdog script based on the book by Vikas Swarup.
There are certain places in the universe you never imagine standing. For me, it's the moon, the South Pole, the Miss World podium and here. It's a tremendous honour, so thank you to the Academy. I certainly wouldn't be standing here tonight without Vikas Swarup, who wrote the book, without which none of Slumdog would ever have happened. So thank you, Vikas.
There's a concise history of the production of Slumdog Millionaire on Wikipedia. And, in the wake of its success, in The Guardian, Stephen Armstrong looks at the prospects for the British film industry.
"I'm concerned we're at a tipping point for British film," says Andy Harries, chief executive of Left Bank and producer of 2006's Oscar-nominated movie The Queen as well as next month's The Damned Utd. "The future is very uncertain. C4 and the BBC are the only source of funds for anyone who isn't Working Title and when times are tough for broadcasters a film company can look like a bit of a luxury."
The Oscar for Writing (Original Screenplay) went to Dustin Lance Black for Milk.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Neilson's play will defy Malta ban

A production of Anthony Neilson's play Stitching will be staged at a venue in Malta yet to be announced, reports The Times Of Malta, despite a decision by the country's Board of Classification to ban it.

There's been plenty of opposition to the ban in the Maltese press, including this article in Malta Today and an editorial in the Times Of Malta.
Culture Minister Dolores Cristina said freedom of expression was a basic human right but, like every other right, not absolute. Which is exactly why Stitching should be staged - it is not defamatory, and does not incite racial hatred or violence. It is just a shocking play aimed at an adult audience.
On The Guardian's Theatre Blog, Andrew Haydon has encouraged people to join a Facebook group opposing the ban.

National Theatre competition for over-55s

There are lots of writing competitions aimed at those under 25; the National Theatre is trying something different.
The NT Discover Programme are inviting applications from aspiring playwrights who are over 55 for an idea for a new play they'd like to write based on a favourite classic. The ‘classic' could be a play, as in the case of Little Eyolf [the basis of Samual Adamson's new play, Mrs Affleck], or it could be a classic novel, or even a film.
Fulld details from the National Theatre website. The closing date for entries is 1 April 2009.

What Guild members are getting up to

PERRIE BALTHAZAR wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 27th February.

RICHARD CURTIS wrote the episode of The Vicar of Dibley "The Arrival" going out on BBC1 at 9:30pm on Saturday 21st February.

RICHARD DAVIDSON wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 26th and at 8:00pm on Friday 27th February.

ROBERT EVANS wrote the episode of The Green Green Grass "One Man's Junk" going out on BBC1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 26th February.

JOHN FINNEMORE wrote the episode of Cabin Pressure "Abu Dhabi" going out on Radio 4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 24th February.

LOL FLETCHER wrote the episode of Doctors "Click" going out on BBC1 in two parts at 1:45pm on Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th February.

JEREMY FRONT'S dramatization of Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop" is going out on Radio 4 in two parts at 9:00pm on Saturday 21st at 3:00pm on Sunday 22nd February.

JAYNE HOLLINSON wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 27th February.

ALEX JONES' play about global flooding will be touring with Oxfordshire TouringTheatre Company March 5th - 24th April. Originally commissioned for Alan Ayckbourn's Theatre In Scarborough 2001, it has since been produced by the Swan Theatre, Worcester, had a critically acclaimed BBC Radio production and two sell-out productions in Rome, where it is called Effetto Serra. Visit the OTTC website for tour details.

TONY JORDAN wrote the first episode of the second series of Moving Wallpaper going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Friday 27th February.

JESSICA LEA wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Wednesday 25th February.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 23rd February.

RICHARD MONKS'S radio play Mole is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 24th February.

SUE MOONEY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 27th February.

ROLAND MOORE wrote the episode of Doctors "Mac's Women" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Monday 23rd February.

PHILIP QIZILBASH has written next week's episodes of the BBC Asian Network's daily soap, Silver Street. It is broadcast Monday 23rd February to Friday 27th February at 1.30pm, with an omnibus edition on Sunday 29th February at 4.30pm.

CHRISTOPHER REASON wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Tuesday 24th February. He also has a radio play The Repulsive Woman going out on Radio 4 at

GERT THOMAS wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 23rd February.

CHRIS THOMPSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 25th February.

AMANDA WHITTINGTON'S radio play The Nine Days Queen is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Monday 23rd February.

STEPHEN WYATT wrote the episode of The Yellowplush Papers "Deuceace" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Monday 23rd February.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Airborne - by James Patterson and 28 other writers

From Sarah Perez on ReadWriteWeb
Best-selling crime author James Patterson will release a new kind of novel next month - one that's been collaboratively written with the crowd. Called AirBorne, the upcoming novel will feature 30 chapters, each written by a different author except the first and last - those will be written by Patterson himself. With the release of this book, it appears the Web 2.0 movement of collaborative writing is about to hit the mainstream.
Chapters will be released electronically, with the writers having been selected through a competition for aspiring novelists.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

7 on 7 - radio sketch writers wanted

On the BBC Writersroom website, news of a new opportunity for radio sketch writers:
7 on 7 is a new topical sketch show to be transmitted on BBC Radio 7 in May 2009.

The show gets comic mileage from the news on each of the last seven days – political, cultural, sports, and trivia. We’ll take one day at a time and examine what happened on that day. Or we might use the events on a particular day to talk about a related topic. If a story develops over the week then we can revisit it in the show.

We’ll have a regular host and a cast of performers who can recreate the names who've made the news in the last week and play the ones that we invent.

The tone will be lively, satirical, and distinctly irreverent.
The closing date for submissions is 27 February 2009. Full details of how to submit sketches are on the Writersroom website.

Len Deighton interview

In The Telegraph, Jake Kerridge talks to novelist Len Deighton about his career.
He hopes new readers will “get a laugh” out of his books. Does he think other spy writers are too solemn? “It’s difficult to be sure sometimes what is intended humour and what is unintended, isn’t it?”

But he also likes the idea of making his readers “jump about” as they try to work out whether his characters are telling the truth, half-truths or downright lies. They are always saying something different from what they appear to be saying – but then we all do that, says Deighton. “You read the obituaries of Harold Pinter, for instance, if you want an insight into how people can say nasty things in what appears to be a eulogy. People communicate by miscommunicating. The English are supreme at this.”

SNP will launch Creative Scotland as soon as possible

In a speech to Scottish arts professionals in Edinburgh yesterday, Mike Russell, Scotland's new Culture Minister in the SNP administration, pledged to merge the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen (into a new organisation called Creative Scotland) as soon as possible, reports Mike Wade in The Times.
This “lean, fit, determined servant of Scottish culture” will be formed next year by the merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, and will administer a £50 million budget.

There were firm commitments: to expand the board of Creative Scotland to include arts practitioners, and that the costs of transition to the new super-quango would not be met from existing cultural budgets.
As The Scotsman reports, opposition parties have criticised the plans.
Political opponents warned the Scottish Government was starting to see everything through the lens of independence.

Murdo Fraser, for the Tories, said: "Scotland's culture and arts have prospered during our 300 year Union. Day by day, the SNP is retreating into its nationalist shell."

Pauline McNeill, for Labour, said [Mr Russell] had "clearly exploited" the arts platform to press for independence.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pinter on BBC Radio 3

All this week, Radio 3's The Essay features different perspectives on Harold Pinter, who died at the end of last year. They're also available for seven days after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.

Also available on BBC iPlayer for the rest of this week is a Pinter double bill broadcast on Sunday night - Moonlight and Voices.

Oscar prospects

In The Hollywood Reporter, Jay A. Fernandez assesses the Oscar shortlists for Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.

Damian Shannon and Mark Swift interview

For the Writers Guild of America West, Denis Faye talks to the writers of the new version of Friday The 13th, Damian Shannon and Mark Swift.
How do you think the craft of writing horror has changed in the 30 years or so since the original Friday the 13th came out?

Mark Swift: I think it goes in cycles. I think for this new one, we wanted to cycle back to the way that it was in the ‘80s. It was a little less self-aware. Then we had the cycle with Scream where it was self-reflexive and winking at the audience a lot. After that, it seems like it went into, I think it’s been referred to as “torture porn,” like the Saw films, which are all about throwing out that self-reflexivity and really making it brutal and visceral. I think we’re trying to have this pendulum swing back to where it was a little more entertaining and fun. That was basically our goal.

Bleak outlook for ITV

On his blog last week, Guild member Stephen Gallagher lamented the decline of ITV.
ITV in the 60s was a robust, distributed, internally competitive, regionally-aware confederation of strong-management businesses. In the 70s, when I worked for Granada, I was part of a vigorous production centre bursting with an undifferentiated mix of low and high culture. I watched Marc Bolan tape a show in the studio and then went upstairs and peed in the next stall to Laurence Olivier.

Now it's an inflated, vulnerable, London-based monolith with no identity, no staff loyalty, no viewer loyalty, and a helpless management.
Sadly, if an analysis by Maggie Brown and Chris Tryhorn in today's Media Guardian is correct, the decline in advertising revenue suggests that things are going to get worse.
It seems inevitable that director of programmes, Peter Fincham's budget for original drama - so often seen as ITV's USP - will be most vulnerable, especially for non-soap dramas that fall outside prime-time. The decision to move The Bill from twice weekly at 8pm, to once a week at 9pm, represents a cut of 90 hours a year of expensive drama.

For connoisseurs of the art of TV scheduling, there was a watershed moment when the venerable clip show It'll be Alright on the Night ran on Christmas night, only to be repeated three days later on a Saturday night.

According to one source, executives are already holding furtive conversations in corridors about preparing for the worst- case scenario - an emergency schedule consisting of just soaps and repeats. In production, one drastic measure is under consideration: rationalising ITV Productions in the north of England, where there are two big studio complexes.

Hugh Leonard 1926-2009

The Irish playwright and scriptwriter Hugh Leonard died last week at the age of 82.

His best-known work, Da, was first produced in 1973 and won a Tony Award following a run on Broadway in 1978. He also completed several major literary adaptations for the BBC, including both Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights in 1967.

There are obituaries in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and The Irish Times.
He tended to be excluded from the pantheon of “Great Irish Writers” yet he had more of a claim to the first rank than many more highly rated by the arbiters of culture.

At their best, his plays have a wit, dramatic punch and a truth which are as good as anything written for the Irish stage in the past 50 years. They are also excellently crafted.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

ABBY AJAYI wrote the episode of Doctors "Amends" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Wednesday 18th February.

DAVID ASHTON'S radio play McLevy concludes with the fourth episode "The Reckoning" going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 17th February.

RAY BROOKING wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 16th February.

RICHARD BURKE wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Thursday 19th February.

ANNA CLEMENTS wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 17th February.

SIMON CROWTHER wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 20th February.

CLIVE DAWSON wrote the episode of The Bill "Broken Hearts" going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Thursday 19th February.

MATTHEW EVANS wrote the episode of Wild at Heart going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Sunday 15th February. He also wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 19th February.

DONNA FRANCESCHILD'S radio play The Lottery Ticket is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Wednesday 18th February.

JEREMY FRONT has dramatised Evelyn Waugh's Scoop in two one hour episodes as a BBC Radio 4 Classic Serial. It will be broadcast on Sunday 15th and Sunday 22nd February at 3.00pm.

JAYNE HOLLINSON wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 16th February.

JULIE JONES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Monday 16th February.

PETER KERRY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 18th February.

DAVID LANE wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Wednesday 18th February.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 20th February.

JONATHAN MYERSON'S radio play The Invasion: Arab Chronicles of the First Crusade is going out on Radio 4 at 9:00pm on Saturday 14th February.

JESSE O'MAHONEY wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Wednesday 18th February.

JULIE PARSONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 16th February.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT has been interviewed on about her work on Mirror's Edge.

PHILIP QIZILBASH wrote next weeks episodes on the BBC Asian Network's daily soup, Silver Street. It is broadcast Monday 16th till Friday 20th February at 1:30pm, with an omnibus edition on Sunday 22nd February at 4:30pm.

HEATHER ROBSON wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 20th February.

PAUL ROUNDELL wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Thursday 19th February.

SUZIE SMITH wrote the episode of Casualty "Stand By Me" going out on BBC1 at 8:25pm on Saturday 14th February.

JOHN SULLIVAN wrote the episode of The Green Green Grass "I Done It My Way" going out on BC1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 19th February.

NICK WARBURTON wrote the episode of Holby City "Truth and Mercy" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 17th February.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 20th February.

JOHN WILSHER wrote the episode of New Tricks "Ducking and Diving" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 19th February.

STEPHEN WYATT wrote the episode of The Yellowplush Papers "Captain Rook" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 16th February.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Caryl Churchill's new play free to download

Caryl Churchill's new short play, Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, currently running at The Royal Court, has been made available as a free download (pdf).

Ticktes for the play, billed as 'a ten minute history of Israel, ending with the bombing of Gaza' are also free, with donations invited for Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Google Book Settlement site live

As TechCrunch reports, following the $125 million dollar settlement with the American Authors Guild last October, the Google Book Settlement site is now live, enabling copyright holders to make claims for scanned books available online through Google Book Search.
Authors, publishers, and other copyright holders will get a one-time payment of $60 per scanned book (or $5 to $15 for partial works). In return, Google will be able to index the books and display snippets in search results, as well as up to 20% of each book in preview mode. Google will also be able to show ads on these pages and make available for sale digital versions of each book. Authors and copyright holders will receive 63 percent of all advertising and e-commerce revenues associated with their works.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Monsterist arrives at the National

On his blog for The Stage, Mark Shenton considers how the National Theatre's £10 ticket scheme has brought a big new play (England People Very Nice by Richard Bean, a playwright belonging to the 'Monsterists' group) to what should be a big new audience.
Undoubtedly the biggest innovation of Nick Hytner’s regime at the National Theatre has been the Travelex £10 season, and its return last night for the 7th year running with the opening of England People Very Nice, the first production of this year’s season, brings a big, boisterous, noisy public play to a (hopefully) big, boisterous, noisy audience. This is exactly one of the things that the Travelex season is here to support: to push audiences into supporting new work that they might otherwise not take a chance on - and to push playwrights into creating it.

ITV pleas for product placement

From Kate McMahon in Broadcast:
ITV commercial boss Rupert Howell has admitted the broadcaster is "scrapping for its life" as part of an impassioned eleventh-hour plea for product placement to be permitted in the UK...

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is finalising a review of the European Union Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which covers product placement. The review is due in the final week of this month.
Also in Broadcast, Kate McMahon reports that:
ITV has pledged that more than £10m of drama currently on its shelves [and originally planned for broadcast in 2008] will be aired later this year – despite industry fears that some of the shows would never see the light of day.

Oscars nomination for British animators

this way upAmong those shortlisted for the Oscars this year are two British animators, Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith, for their short film, This Way Up.

According to BBC News:
...this nine-minute comedy tells of father and son undertakers trying to put an old lady in the ground.

Their darkly humorous mission takes them from their humble funeral parlour across country down to the afterlife itself - all without one word being spoken.

According to Smith, the idea of a double act came out of their love for the classic sketch comedies of the 1970s.

"We've always been a double act ourselves," he says. "We sometimes call it an animated Two Ronnies sketch."
This Way Up can be watched in full on the BBC Film Network.

New Kindle raises copyright query

kindle 2The American launch of Kindle 2, the new version of Amazon's electronic reader, has raised a copyright query over a 'text-to-speech' function. According to The Wall Street Journal:
Some publishers and agents expressed concern over a new, experimental feature that reads text aloud with a computer-generated voice.

"They don't have the right to read a book out loud," said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. "That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law."

An Amazon spokesman noted the text-reading feature depends on text-to-speech technology, and that listeners won't confuse it with the audiobook experience. Amazon owns Audible, a leading audiobook provider.
Amazon says that more than 230,000 titles are now available to download to a Kindle, and early reviews suggest that the new version improves the device's usability.

It's not clear, however, when it will be available in the UK. As Bobbie Johnson writers in The Guardian, to sell Kindle 2 in this country, Amazon will need to overcome several hurdles relating to the use of its wireless technology.

Update (13 Feb 2009): The Authors Guild (USA) has now put up an official statement on its website.
We're studying this matter closely and will report back to you. In the meantime, we recommend that if you haven't yet granted your e-book rights to backlist or other titles, this isn't the time to start. If you have a new book contract and are negotiating your e-book rights, make sure Amazon's use of those rights is part of the dialog. Publishers certainly could contractually prohibit Amazon from adding audio functionality to its e-books without authorization, and Amazon could comply by adding a software tag that would prohibit its machine from creating an audio version of a book unless Amazon has acquired the appropriate rights. Until this issue is worked out, Amazon may be undermining your audio market as it exploits your e-books.

Bundling e-books and audio books has been discussed for a long time in the industry. It's a good idea, but it shouldn't be accomplished by fiat by an e-book distributor.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Batwoman scripts

One of the big announcements at this year's New York Comic Con was the imminent return of Batwoman.

batwoman It's being drawn by J.H. Williams III and written by Greg Rucka, who has posted some script extracts on his blog (link via The Guardian).
Pages 2 and 3

RUSH, maybe on the ground, maybe half-propped against a filthy brick wall, but he’s not our focus, though his terror certainly feeds us.

BATWOMAN advances. Blood red hair and blood red bat and the kind of sexy that makes you think of a succubus with a very bad attitude.

1 RUSH/wobble/faint: ah no…no no no please, not you—
2 RUSH: —why won’t you leave me alone!?!
3 RUSH/bigger: What do you want from me?!?!

The blood red BAT SYMBOL on her chest.

4 BATWOMAN: You know what I want, Rush…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nicholas Hytner interview

In The Times, Benedict Nightingale talks to National Theatre boss Nicholas Hytner.
...he's happy that playwrights seem less to be looking inwards, as they often did in the 1980s and 1990s, and, like [Richard] Bean, are looking outwards at a Britain that has hugely changed since the National's founding in 1963. This means that programming for the Olivier and Lyttelton, a problem for his predecessors, is a task that he embraces with relish, whether he's presenting new work or classics, such as The Revenger's Tragedy, that speak to the present: “I hope all our productions are investigative, but those that excite me most are large-scale, big, public, social plays.”

But it's another change, the toppling of the barriers between the so-called fringe and mainstream theatre, that he calls “the biggest thing that's happened in my professional lifetime. When you think how rigorously separated they were only 20 years ago, hating each other, it's astonishing.”

Teaching Teechers

In The Guardian, David Ward talks to John Bennett about the new MA course in contemporary popular theatre that he is teaching at Liverpool Hope University.
He claims it is the only course of its kind in the UK. Bennett is targeting those likely to want to work in the theatre, because he thinks popular drama deserves serious study and has been given the cold shoulder by critics and academics.

"It has been marginalised," he says. "My PhD on [John] Godber was possibly the only thesis ever submitted with a non-bibliography at the end – a list of books that purport to survey British theatre since 1984 that make no mention of the third most performed playwright in the country. That's a very serious omission."

BBC Trust review of BBC children's services

The BBC Trust has published its review of BBC services and content for children. The overall tone is very positive, but it also makes several recommendations for improvement:
  • Scheduling decisions should prioritise children's output unless there is a strong public value reason for not doing so
  • Newsround and Blue Peter make an important contribution to the BBC's citizenship and global public purposes but audience levels have been falling in recent years and this decline has been exacerbated by recent schedule changes. The BBC Executive should boost audience numbers for content which contributes to these purposes
  • The arrangements for children's audio will have to change in light of very low audience numbers. The BBC Executive is developing a new proposal for consideration by the Trust
  • The BBC Executive should develop plans to address the decline in usage of the CBBC website.
The review also adds that:
  • There have been significant changes in the marketplace since the Executive last developed its investment plans, meaning the BBC's role as a provider of UK originated content is now even more important
  • If taken too far, the BBC's 'fewer, bigger, better' strategy could limit the range of children's output and undermine the BBC's ability to meet the needs of a diverse audience
In response, a joint statement has been issued by Jana Bennett, Director, BBC Vision, and Richard Deverell, Controller, BBC Children's.
We welcome the Trust's key recommendations, and will submit our responses over the next six months, in particular regarding CBeebies Radio; seeking the best ways of continuing to reach children via tv and the web and the overall investment plan for BBC Children's.

Monday, February 09, 2009

ITV drama's quiet revolution

In Broadcast, Chris Curtis argues that while ITV's decision to drop a number of long-running drama series (including, announced last week, Wire In The Blood) carries risks, a new strategy does seem to be emerging.
Whitechapel was undoubtedly helped by the snow last Monday, but an audience of 8.1m (albeit a captive one) was a huge shot in the arm. It comfortably outperformed a new series of BBC ratings banker Who Do You Think You Are?, and if it can hang onto anywhere near the same this week then ITV will have a genuinely exciting hit on its hands.

Linda La Plante's Above Suspicion was another big ratings success, (despite a second-part that was a bit of a let down) suggesting the not-unattractive DC Anna Travis might have a few more cases in the near future.

But it is another set of crime fighters that could be the most important for ITV drama next stage. Forget two-parters. Laura Mackie and Peter Fincham have ordered 13 episodes of Law & Order UK, complete with Bradley Walsh and Frema Agyeman.

I missed the press screening, but the mutterings sound positive, and the word is that the show has been well received within ITV.

After freeing up space and cash by dropping some old-stagers, a successful run for Law & Order could help usher in a new era at ITV.

BAFTA Film Awards

Lots of success for UK writers at the BAFTAs last night, including:
  • Martin McDonagh - Original screenplay (In Bruges)
  • Simon Beaufoy - Adapted screenplay (Slumdog Millionaire)
  • Steve Pegram, Nick Park, Bob Baker - Short animation (Wallace And Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death)
  • Steve McQueen - The Carl Foreman Award for special achievement by a British director, writer or producer for their first feature film (director/writer of Hunger, co-written with Enda Walsh)
  • Noel Clarke - Orange Rising Star Award (writer and star of Adulthood)
Slumdog Millionaire, based on the book by Vikas Swarup, also won Best Film and Best Director (for Danny Boyle)

What Guild members are getting up to

MARTIN ALLEN wrote the episode of Half Moon Investigations going out on BBC1 at 4:35pm on Monday 9th February.

JESSE ARMSTRONG and SAM BAIN wrote the episode of The Old Guys "The Therapist" going out on BBC1 at 9:40pm on Saturday 7th February.

DAVID ASHTON'S radio play McLevy continues with its third instalment The Chosen One" going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 10th February.

GABY CHIAPPE wrote the episode of Lark Rise To Candleford going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Sunday 8th February.

STEPHEN FAY wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Thursday 12th February.

DAWN HARRISON wrote the episodes of Doctors going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm from Monday 9th till Friday 13th February. It is a stand-alone week called "Aftershock" about what happens to a community after a boy is stabbed.

MARK ILLIS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 13th February.

TONY JORDAN wrote the episode of Hustle going out on BBC1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 12th February.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 9th February.

JANE MARLOW wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 13th February.

TONY MCHALE wrote the episode of Trial & Retribution "Shooter" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Friday 13th February.

JOHN MORTIMER'S radio play Rumpole Returns is going out on Radio 4 in two parts. The first part is "Rumpole and the Teenage Werewolf" which goes out at 2:15pm on Thursday 12th and the second is "Rumpole and the Right to Privacy" which goes out at 2:15pm on Friday 13th February.

JONATHAN MYERSON'S radio play The Invasion: Arab Chronicles of the First Crusade is going out on Radio 4 in two parts. The first part starts at 9:00pm on Saturday 7th and the second at 3:00pm on Sunday 8th February.

CHRIS PARKER wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Tuesday 10th February.

ANNA PERERA'S teenage novel Guantanamo boy is published February 5th by Puffin. It tells the story of Khalid, a 15 year old boy from Rochdale who's kidnapped in Pakistan while on holiday with his family and transported to Guantanamo. A place no teenager should ever see.

CHRIS THOMPSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 10th February.

COLIN WYATT wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 12th and at 8:00pm on Friday 13th February.

STEPHEN WYATT wrote the episode of The Yellowplush Papers "My First Employer" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 9th February.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Christopher Wicking 1943-2009

Christopher Wicking, screenwriter, critic and teacher has died at the age of 65. There are obituaries in The Independent, The Times and by Gavin Gaughan in The Guardian.
Wicking's speciality was reordering conventional narrative structure, while adhering to the horror/thriller genre, as with Scream and Scream Again (1970), with Price, Lee and Peter Cushing.

He reteamed with Hessler for Cry of the Banshee (1970), again starring Price, then a remake of Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971). His Hammer debut was the troubled Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971), on which Cushing withdrew after one day's filming due to his wife's terminal illness (he was replaced by Andrew Keir), and the director Seth Holt (described by Wicking as "an English Jean-Pierre Melville"), collapsed into cast member Aubrey Morris's arms, dying on set.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Guild blog survey - still open

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to complete the short survey I put online last week. An email has been sent out today to those who requested more information about membership.

If you've not yet had a chance to complete it, the survey will remain open for the rest of the month. It should only take a minute or two to fill in.

I'll post an analysis of the findings next month.

Project Kangaroo blocked by Competition Commission

In a surprise decision, the Competition Commission (CC) has blocked the launch of the proposed video on demand (VOD) venture between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 with the working name of Project Kangaroo.

The reasoning behind the decision was quite simple, as explained (pdf) by Peter Freeman, CC Chairman and Chairman of the inquiry group:
Without this venture, BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 would be close competitors of each other. We thought that viewers would benefit from better VOD services if the parties—possibly in conjunction with other new and/or already established providers of VOD—competed with each other.
While many commentators had expected the CC to raise concerns about Project Kangaroo, most thought that the broadcasters would find compromises in order to overcome them.

The full CC report is available on their website. And there's extensive coverage and discussion on Media Guardian, including this commentary from Emily Bell criticising the CC decision.
What is likely to happen next is that one of these "nascent services" such as Hulu, the US-owned distribution network for high value video content, will become the platform of choice for UK broadcasters. If this happens advertising pounds will be returned, a la Google, to an organisation which has US shareholders and no interest in reinvesting in UK programmes.

A third dimension to storytelling

In The New York Times, John Clarke talks to Henry Selick, the writer and director of the new 3-D animation Coraline (based on the book by Neil Gaiman).
“Coraline,” which cost approximately $60 million to make, is the first stop-motion animated feature to be shot entirely in 3-D. And while that effect dates back at least to the early part of the last century, filmmakers are still learning how — and how not — to implement it.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about it and getting a sense of how to use it,” Mr. Selick said. “I saw that everyone that was doing 3-D was overusing the in-your-face things. They were playing very fast and loose with the technique, mainly just cranking it up as a gimmick, which is what killed it in the ’50s. So I wanted it to be part of our story, another world that seems richer, where you can breathe.”
Coraline is due to open in the UK in May.

Update: Here's an interview with Selick from

Monday, February 02, 2009

Why should writers pay extra for car insurance?

A guest post from Paul Dornan:

Imagine this highly realistic scenario.

You are screenwriter and you drive to the set of a film you’ve written. On set you get talking to Robert DeNiro and Scarlett Johansson. The day ends and, because you're such great chums, you offer to run them back to the Dorchester in the battered 12- year-old Golf your mum gave you. An offer which they, despite having a top of the range limo on stand-by, accept with delight. You tootle off down the road and then kill them by driving into Woody Allen coming up the wrong way with a bloke who's been up all night on a Casualty re-write.

What do you mean, that’s not very likely?!

Oh, all right then. It's total and utter nonsense. Of course it is. But it's total and utter nonsense that, apparently, is the reason insurance companies justify charging us screenwriters extra for our car insurance.

Yes, according to the men in grey suits who obviously know our world much better than we do, we are not lone wordsmiths who barely get looked at never mind befriended on a set but a wannabe taxi service to the stars. And therefore a prime target to get walloped for extra premiums.

I was told by an insurance broker that they justify it by referring to an apparently true case where this happened. Just the one case mind. In, wait for it… 1924. When some screenwriter gave an actor a lift in his Model T, skidded on an old florin and crashed, hurting the actor and costing the British insurance industry all of 12 shillings and sixpence.

For that, and that alone, we collectively all pay hundreds of thousands extra each year on our already exorbitant premiums. Which is where this stops being funny and starts being a serious scandal - especially in a hard-pressed and generally underpaid industry like ours.

We writers - and many actors too - get fleeced year in and year on the basis of a fantasy that has nothing to do with industry norms and practice whatsoever. Just get this in your heads Insurance People: writers do not give lifts to stars or even working actors. There's production transport to do that. Usually fleets of smart black Addison Lee cars, all complete with sat nav, an old copy of the Daily Mirror and their own, doubtless ludicrously expensive specialist insurance.

I say it's time we got together and took action against this collective levy against a wholly fictitious risk none of us actually pose. Or pose in no greater numbers than say the average teacher or sales executive. Or indeed Motor Insurance Actuary.

But before we do so let’s establish that this really is the case and it’s not just me this happens to. Have you been ripped off and charged more for your profession? Please contact the Guild office or post a comment here and let us know. Perhaps you are paying extra and you don’t even notice.

All I know is that when I say ‘screenwriter’ it never even passes unchallenged. Indeed when I looked the other day the Tesco motor insurance website specifically excludes Film and TV people. Assuming that it is the case for more than me – and anecdote would suggest it is – then I think it’s time we as a Guild and as a profession took action.

I propose teaming up with Film and TV craft unions and Equity, all of whom also suffer from this barkingly mad uplift, and create a day of action when, to draw attention to the matter, we really do drive film stars around for free just to get our money's worth.

Let’s call it Stars In Our Cars Day. The press would love it and with a bit of support and solidarity it could lead to some embarrassing questions being asked of the insurance industry. They might even re-consider their assumptions and save us all money. It may lead one of them to break off and offer insurance to us without this nonsense. Which we might well flock to. At the very least it will be a call to arms and start of a campaign.

Obviously if Stars In Cars Day does happen I’m baggsying either Penelope Cruz, Helen Mirren or for a laugh, Bob Hoskins. Assuming any of them need to run down to Waitrose for some bits.

“Writercab for you Mr De Niro…”

Robert Mark Kamen interview

For the Writers Guild of America West, Shira Gotshalk talks to screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen whose credits include The Karate Kid, The Fifth Element (with Luc Besson) and, most recently, Taken (with Luc Besson) which showed in the UK last autumn.
Beyond the Karate Kid movies, how has the practice of martial arts informed you as a writer?

Well, I can write great action scenes. Action scenes are written like little movies. They’re in three acts, almost, and you have to fill up each act. And since I know a lot about fighting, I can be specific about it. But what I find is, you don’t have to when you have great choreographers like Cory Yuen or Woo-ping Yuen, who did Unleashed. You just sort of inform the scene by making it in three acts and let them put in all the technical stuff.

Joe Penhall on Moses Jones

In The Telegraph, Joe Penhall explains how he came to write Moses Jones, a new thriller starting on BBC Two tonight (and then on BBC iPlayer).
Moses Jones isn’t really about ritual killing or Uganda’s troubled history. It’s about London today. It’s about loyalty in a big bad world. It’s about faith and beliefs and identity – and the fear and confusion they engender. These days these are dramatic subjects. They define and exercise us in a way they haven’t done since the Seventies when Amin and Obote were in the news and Britain succumbed to the National Front. But ultimately Moses Jones is about belonging and the places we call ‘home’. Is there anything more important?
Actor Shaun Parkes talks about Moses Jones

Lessons from HBO

On The Guardian's Organ Grinder blog, Greg Dyke looks at the reasons behind the success of American cable company HBO.
...probably [the] most important ingredient in HBO's success was the willingness to be hands off.

As Ed Burns, one of the creators of The Wire, describes it: "There's nobody blowing the whistle on the sidelines saying: 'Foul, you can't do that'. The creative process is allowed to go on uninterrupted." As a result, the best writers, producers, directors and actors all wanted to work for HBO.
The lessons for British TV are painfully obvious.
When it comes to creative risks, Tom Hooper, the British director of John Adams, sums it up when he says that British television no longer takes the risks it once did. "There is tremendous pressure to come up with more detective stories and hospital dramas."

And as for the willingness of British television executives to let go and allow creatives to get on with their job without interference, I fear that we've moved in the opposite direction since I first came into television. While there are one or two notable exceptions, there are now just too many people working for broadcasters in Britain who think it's not only their job but their innate right to interfere with the end product.

What this means, ironically, is that while HBO has been placing more and more trust in the programme maker and getting spectacular results, British television has gone the other way.
Greg Dyke presents a film about HBO on The Culture Show to be shown on BBC Two tomorrow night (3rd Feb) and then available on BBC iPlayer.