Friday, August 28, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

ANNA CLEMENTS wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 4th September.

KISHWAR DESAI'S novel Witness the Night" is on the Man Asian Literary Prize 2009 longlist. The novel is scheduled for publication in January 2010.

SIMON FRITH wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 30th August till Friday 4th September with each episode being repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

ROB GITTINS wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 3rd and at 8:00pm on Friday 4th September.

JONATHAN R. HALL wrote the episode of Doctors "All That Glitters" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 1st September.

MARK ILLIS and CAROLINE MITCHELL co-wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 1st September.

PETER KERRY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 31st August.

JANE MARLOW wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 31st August.

NATALIE MCGRATH has been shortlisted for this years Meyer Whitworth Award for playwrights early on in their careers for her play Metal Remains.

GRAHAM MITCHELL wrote the episode of Holby City "Faithful" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 1st September.

ROY MITCHELL wrote the episode of New Tricks "Meat is Murder" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 3rd September.

DOMINIQUE MOLONEY wrote the episode of Doctors "Shadow" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Friday 4th September.

DAVID NOBBS'S radio comedy The Malty Collection continues on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Monday 31st August.

DEBBIE OATES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 4th September.

PAUL ROUNDELL wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 3rd September.

CHRIS THOMPSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 4th September.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 3rd September.

COLIN WYATT wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 31st August and at 7:30pm on Tuesday 1st September.

UK animation industry under threat

A video report for BBC News explains how tax breaks overseas are threatening the UK animation industry.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cheryl Taylor is BBC's new Controller, Comedy Commissioning

From the BBC Press Office:
Jana Bennett, Director, BBC Vision, announced today that Cheryl Taylor, currently BBC Executive Editor, Out of London, Comedy Commissioning, is the BBC's new Controller, Comedy Commissioning.

Taylor, currently based in Manchester, will take up the role in the autumn and will remain in Manchester.
She replaces Lucy Lumsden, who became Sky TV's head of comedy earlier this year.

Written By - Aug-Sept issue online

The latest issue of the Writers Guild of America West's magazine, Written By is now available to read in full online.

It includes interviews with Nora Ephron, Nancy Miller and the writing staff of The Daily Show.

Canadian animator wins $5.2m plagiarism case

From Mike King for the Montreal Gazette:
Claude Robinson, a doggedly determined Montreal animator, has won a 13-year-long legal battle against the children's animation firm formerly known as Cinar Corp.

Robinson, who launched a $2.53-million Quebec Superior Court copyright-infringement lawsuit against Cinar and other defendants in July 1996 claiming they stole a cartoon character he created, today was awarded $5.2-million.
Robinson's case was supported by the French Canadian writers' guild (Société des Auteurs de Radio, Télévision et Cinéma) and the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds, of which the Writers' Guild of Great Britain is a member.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Channel 4 to invest extra £20m in drama

Channel 4 said today that it will use the axing of Big Brother for the "most fundamental creative overhaul" in its 27-year history, with measures including an extra £20m a year for drama.
More from Mark Sweney and Leigh Holmwood in Media Guardian.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Film company insolvencies rise

A report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has revealed that 59 film companies in the UK have become insolvent since January 2008.
Despite the fact that UK filmed entertainment raked $6.6bn in 2009 remains the largest market in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), film finance has become increasingly scarce particularly for independents.

Nick George, media partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said:

"The recession has sent hoards of consumers to the cinema and therefore large scale, expensive films, such as Harry Potter, remain in production and eagerly awaited. However, due to the credit crunch, sources of financing for smaller indie films have dried up - meaning many plots remain on the story board."
However, with digital technology bringing the costs of film-making down all the time, Nick George says that things should improve.
"The credit crunch has clearly made fundraising tougher for independent film makers but things tend to move in cycles, and the distribution of films like Colin and success of non-mainstream films like Juno and Slumdog Millionaire demonstrate a strong appetite for original, creative work, so in time we ought to see investors returning to the market."
Story via Arifa Akbar in The Independent.

Putting on the skits

On the Writers' Guild website, writer and performer Griff Phillips (pictured, above) explains the ins and outs of staging a live sketch show.

"You can do it - I managed, and I'm an idiot."

Has realism in children's books gone too far?

Former children's laureate Anne Fine has told an audience at the Edinburgh Festival that she is concerned that realism in children's novels may have gone too far, reports Jack Malvern in The Times.
“In the Fifties, when a strong child was dealing with difficult circumstances, there was always a rescue at the end of the book and it was always a middle-class rescue,” she said.

“The child would win a scholarship to Roedean or something, and go on to do very well. That was felt to be unrealistic and so there was a move away from that. Books for children became much more concerned with realism, or what we see as realism.

“But where is the hope? How do we offer them hope within that? It may be that realism has gone too far in literature for children. I am not sure that we are opening doors for children who read these books, or helping them to develop their aspirations.”
Speaking on the same panel at the Festival, Fine's concerns were rejected by bestselling children's writer Melvin Burgess:
“I have had letters talking about the humanity of my books, even when the situations the characters are in are very dark and difficult. Just the fact that they are still making jokes and falling in love. Perhaps the light of hope comes from the reader and not the story.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

TV networks want broader ratings

From Cynthia Littleton in Variety:
The nets [TV networks] are pushing for what's known as the "three-screen solution" -- a single rating that would combine the viewership of programs via TV or DVR, online and by mobile devices. Broadcast execs optimistically view it as a way for them to fight back against the tide of declining audience share for their mothership nets.

There's no certainty that advertisers will pay premium rates for such "cumed" ratings, but nets can't even make the pitch if they don't have reliable data to back it up.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hollywood directors: white, male and middle-aged

In survey that is telling if not exactly a shock, Michael Cieply in The New York Times reveals the extent of white male dominance over movie directing at major Hollywood studios.
If you are splashing around with a bunch of guys who are 93 percent white, an average of 45.62 years old and look as if they’ve done this before, you must be swimming in the studio directors’ pool...

What the count shows is that Hollywood directors are pretty much what they have always been: a small brotherhood of highly skilled craftsmen — more than 90 percent this year are men — who could hit or miss with any given film, but who tend to have solid experience. This year’s directors appear to have made 6.1 movies, on average — and probably have more in common with one another than with the increasingly diverse population around them.

Guild Awards - call for nominations

Remember, the deadline for nominations for the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards 2009 is Friday the 28th August.

All Guild members are entitled to nominate in all categories.

Send nominations in any or all of the categories by email to with your full name and Guild membership number. Please make it clear which writers you are nominating in which categories and nominate only one title in each category.

Full details of the categories and eligibility criteria are on the Guild website.

What Guild members are getting up to

SARAH BAGSHAW wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm Wednesday 26th August.

LUCY BLINCOE wrote the episode of Doctors "If You Love Somebody" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Friday 28th August.

RAY BROOKING wrote the episode of Doctors "Cradle to Grave" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Thursday 27th August.

IAN CURTEIS'S radio play The Last Year is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Friday 28th August. Starring Derek Jacobi it examines one of the enduring mysteries of the First World War - the apparent refusal of George V to give sanctuary in England to his cousin Tsar Nicholas and, after he had been forced to abdicate during the Russian Revolution.

TIM DYNEVOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 25th and at 7:30pm on Thursday 27th August.

LISA EVANS has been appointed Associate Writer at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.

MATHEW EVANS wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Tuesday 25th August.

RICHARD EVERETT'S stage play Entertaining Angels starring Penelope Keith goes into rehearsal in September for a 6 week tour prior to a London transfer produced by Michael Codron. Also in the cast are Benjamin Whitrow, Polly Adams and Carolyn Backhouse. Director is Alan Strachan. From 22nd Sept weekly tour dates are: Bath, Manchester, Richmond, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Chichester.

CHRIS FEWTRELL wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 27th August.

PETER FLANNERY wrote the episode of Inspector George Flannery "The Burning Man" going out on BBC1 at 8:30pm on Friday 28th August.

CAROLINE HARRINGTON wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 23rd till Friday 28th August with each episode being repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

PETER KERRY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 28th August.

IAN KERSHAW wrote the episode of Holby City "Reformation" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 25th August.

LIZZIE MICKERY'S dramatization of The 39 Steps is going out on BBC1 at 8:30pm on Wednesday 26th August. Rupert Penry-Jones stars in the adaptation of the classical novel by John Buchan, set in the days leading up to the outbreak of the First World War. Richard Hannay's life changes for ever when British Spy Scudder barges into his flat with information about a German Spy ring based in Scotland. But when Scudder is killed, Hannay finds himself accused of murder.

ROY MITCHELL co-wrote the episode of New Tricks "Blood Is Thicker than Water" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 27th August.

DOMINIQUE MOLONEY wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 24th August.

DAVID NOBBS'S museum-based sitcom The Maltby Collection is beginning a new series going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 24th August.

LYN PAPADOPOULOS wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 24th August.

JANE PEARSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 24th August.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Corbett criticises proposed film bodies merger

Writers' Guild General Secretary, Bernie Corbett, has criticised the proposed merger of the British Film Institute (BFI) and UK Film Council (UKFC), announced yesterday by Film Minister, Siôn Simon.

"A new, streamlined single body that represents the whole of the film sector will offer a better service both for film makers and film lovers," Simon said.

"There are practical issues which we need to resolve to ensure that this proposed merger brings about the benefits we want without impacting on the work currently done by the BFI and UKFC. DCMS will now work closely with both BFI and the UKFC to deliver a better service for film."

Corbett, however, disagreed. "No one in the arts and entertainment world will believe this is any more that penny-pinching intended to free up a few more pounds to be sucked into the Olympics black hole," he said.

"A merger between these two bodies makes about as much sense as a merger between the Science Museum and British Aerospace," he said. "Will it be this Government or the next one that finishes the job by throwing the fast-declining Arts Council into the same jumble-sale operation?

"Today’s announcement confirms Britain as a nation blessed with extraordinary reserves of talent and cultural heritage, delivering audiences and cultural tourists by the million, but governed by short-sighted philistines, box-ticking bureaucrats and self-deluding economists."

You can read Bernie Corbett's full statement on the Writers' Guild website.

Rivals unite against Google Books

From Maggie Shiels for BBC News:
Three technology heavyweights are joining a coalition to fight Google's attempt to create what could be the world's largest virtual library.

Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo will sign up to the Open Book Alliance being spearheaded by the Internet Archive.

They oppose a legal settlement that could make Google the main source for many online works.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Val McDermid sponsors football stand

A (probable) first as reported by Iain Collin in The Scotsman:
Fife-based football team Raith Rovers have renamed their north stand after concluding a unique sponsorship deal with best-selling crime writer Val McDermid.

The enclosure at the club, which counts Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a lifelong fan, will now be known as the McDermid Stand, with the author backing the club where her father, Jim, was a scout and signed the legendary Jim Baxter and Ian Porterfield.

McDermid said: "I'm delighted to mark the Rovers' promotion to the First Division with this sponsorship deal.

Tullio Kezich 1928-2009

Italian film critic and screenwriter, Tullio Kezich, has died at the age of 80, reports Colleen Barry for Associated Press.
Tullio Kezich, a prominent film critic for the daily Corriere della Sera who befriended and collaborated with Italian directing greats Federico Fellini and Ermanno Olmi, died Monday. He was 80.

...Kezich died in his adopted home of Rome, where he hung out during the Dolce Vita days with his close friend Fellini, about whom he later wrote the biography "Federico Fellini: His Life and Work."
As Reuters reports, the Venice Film Festival has announced a new essay competition for young Italian writers in his honour.

Michael Frayn's journalism

In The Guardian, Tim Adams talks to Guild member Michael Frayn (best known as a playwright and novelist) about his new collection of journalism: Travels With a Typewriter: A Reporter at Large.
In the introduction to his book - "the closest I'll ever come to a memoir" - Frayn talks about some of the influences that made him a writer, in particular a comment his father made about his first significant essay, "The House I Should Like to Live in When I Am Grown Up", written when he was six. Frayn's reputation for being the smartest man in the room started early: the imagined house in question was not a symmetrical childish affair, but a "boldly art deco structure with flat roof, white stucco walls and long horizontal windows that curved around the corners". "Perhaps," Frayn's father observed, on reading this precocious effort, "you ought to be a journalist."

BlinkBox to show BBC shows online

By Mark Sweeney for Media Guardian:
BBC Worldwide has struck a deal to make hundreds of hours of content from shows including Top Gear and Doctor Who available via the UK online video service BlinkBox.

Popular titles on DVD, such as Top Gear, Gavin & Stacey, Spooks and Planet Earth, will cost users £1.89 an episode to download from BlinkBox, which is still finalising what it will charge for full series.

Other BBC shows, including Hustle, Hotel Babylon and old series of Doctor Who, can be downloaded free but will carry ads.

BBC Worldwide content will only be made available on BlinkBox a minimum of 180 days after airing on TV.

Copyright code of practice revised

The Alliance for the Protection of Copyright (APC), of which the Writers' Guild is a member, has published a newly updated Code of Practice (pdf) to protect those involved in both the submission and receipt of proposals for film, television and radio.

The revised Code aims to encourage the free flow of ideas and ensure that written proposals (including formats, treatments, scripts, outlines, development documents, tender submissions, storylines, artwork and synopses) are treated in a fair and transparent manner.

It also outlines dispute procedures for those who feel their copyright may have been infringed. The latest edition has been updated to include online and interactive content.

The APC Code of Practice was first launched in April 1999 and has become recognised by all parties as a way of establishing best industry practice.

The updated 2009 Code aims to protect and give confidence to those submitting proposals, provide practical guidelines and sets out the obligations of those both submitting and receiving them.

The current members of the APC (BECTU, Directors UK, Musicians’ Union, The Society of Authors, National Union of Journalists, Women in Film and Television and Writers’ Guild of Great Britain) with the support of the BBC, ITV, C4, Five, AETN UK (History, Bio and Crime & Investigation Network, Military History), the Radio Independents Group, S4C and Pact are seeking to encourage the use of the Code throughout the industry. It is anticipated that more digital broadcasters will join in supporting the Code in the future.

In a joint statement Directors UK and WGGB said: “Creative ideas are the lifeblood of our Members’ work. In a competitive marketplace the APC Code offers protection to the vital raw material on which our industry depends: new ideas. We encourage our Members and all creatives and commissioners to study and follow the guidelines in the new Code”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Riverscross: the soap with a difference

On the Writers' Guild website, Darren Rapier explains how he has set up a drama project in an adolescent psychiatric unit built around the development of a new long running series, Riverscross.
The beauty of the Riverscross project is its flexibility, something it needs in order to run successfully in the environment in which we are working. Students can work at their own level, either as a group, in small groups or individually. We have often switched the way we are working to achieve our aim; making it more or less academic, more or less practical, or more or less drama/TV specific. The multi-disciplined nature of continuing drama also means there is always another angle or another avenue to pursue if any student or students are finding it difficult or uninteresting.
TV director Bruce Webb gives a masterclass to Riverscross students (Photo: Tony Coult)

Screenwriters segue to video game plots

Chris Morgan has become the latest high profile American screenwriter to start working in the video games industry, reports Chris Morris in Variety.
Morgan will oversee the writing on the titles [adapting Robert Jordan's The Wheel Of Time books], working with executive producers and writers to help develop story arcs and helping to digest the book series' 10,000 pages and over 1,700 characters.

"There are a lot of good writers in the games business," says Rick Selvage, co-founder of Red Eagle. "However, I don't think stories have been the compelling driver in many games to date. Game play has been the thing that has motivated people to buy. We believe story is going to become more important to players."

Microsoft's MSN Video Player

It's not even been live for a fortnight, but already Microsoft's MSN Video Player has attracted more than 170,000 show views, reports Mark Sweeney in The Guardian.
Microsoft is hoping that its pilot service, with content from BBC Worldwide and All3Media, may establish it as the online TV aggregator of choice for commercial broadcasters. The transmission firm Arqiva, which bought the remnants of Project Kangaroo, is aiming to launch its own service in the coming months.

Microsoft is also hoping to get first mover advantage over any potential UK launch of the hugely successful Hulu, the US online TV service backed by NBC Universal, News Corporation and Disney.
They've certainly got some good shows, including dramas such as This Life, Bodies and (my personal favourite) North Square.

A new model for publishing

For The Huffington Post, Hugh McGuire sets out his vision of a new model for publishing.
As the availability of web-based tools for making books grows, the distinction will be between what you might call "corporate publishing" -- blockbuster, and top-end publishing; commercial textbook production, etc. -- and the rest of us. The rest of us are "independent": the smaller presses, groupings of people who put craft and time into making something with various motivations, and yes, individual writers. That doesn't mean there won't be money on the independent side, but the structures around the businesses will be very different than on the blockbuster side.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Guild Awards - screenplays

A guest post by Andrea Gibb from the Guild's Film Committee

It's often been said that the three essentials for a successful movie are 'script, script and script' and the screenplay categories in the Writers' Guild Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the art and craft of the screenwriter.

The Film Committee is asking all Guild members to send in their nominations for the screenplays from the last year that stood out. We're looking for the scripts that held an audience through the power of their story telling, characterisation and dialogue

The Guild is also delighted to be initiating a new award this year for the best first feature length screenplay. This is to highlight writers who are new to film and acknowledge their achievement in getting their first screenplay produced. Any produced screenplay can be considered for both these awards providing the film has been screened at festivals or in cinemas in the UK during the period 1/06/08 to 31/05/09.

Below is a list of films in both categories that meet the criteria. As well as sending your nominations feel free to add comments about the films that worked best for you.

Screenplays eligible for Feature Film Screenplay – Newcomer:

Better Things - Duane Hopkins
Cass - Jon S Baird Clubbed - Geoff Thompson
Donkey Punch - Olly Blackburn, David Bloom
Mum and Dad - Stephen Sheil
The Secret of Moonacre - Graham Alborough, Lucy Shuttleworth
Sisterhood - Emily Corcoran
Summer - Hugh Ellis
Wild Child - Lucy Dahl
Cherrybomb - Darragh Carville
Is Anybody There? - Peter Harness
In the Loop - Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci, Tony Roche, (additional dialogue Ian Martin)
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel - Jamie Mathieson Helen - Joe Lawler, Christine Molloy + Ben Slater (script consultant)
Faintheart - David Lemon, Vito Rocco
Dummy - Michael Mueller, Paula Barnes, Matthew Thompson
1234 - Giles Borg
Awaydays - Kevin Sampson
Broken Lines - Doraly Rosa, Dan Fredenburgh
Bronson - Brock Norman Brock, Nicholas Winding Refn
Franklin - Gerald McMorrow
Shifty - Eran Creevy
The Waiting Room - Roger Goldby
Unrelated - Joanna Hogg
The Escapist - Daniel Hardy, Rupert Wyatt
Tuesday - Sacha Bennett
Outlanders - Jimmy Gardner Dominic Lees
Special People - Justin Edgar
The Children - Tom Shankland
Caught in the Act - Neil Salvage, Steve Speirs.
A Bunch of Amateurs - Nick Newman, John Ross, Ian Hislop and Jonathon Gershfield
Lesbian Vampire Killers - Paul Hupfield, Stuart Williams
I Can’t Think Straight - Shamim Sarif, Kelly Moss
Good - John Wrathall
City Rats - Simon Fantauzzo
Little Ashes - Phillipa Goslett
(NB These screenplays are also eligible for best screenplay award and can be nominated for both)

Screenplays eligible for Best Screenwriter Award
(All the above plus) :
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - Mark Herman
The Dark Knight - Christopher Nolan and Johnathan Nolan
Frost / Nixon - Peter Morgan
The Reader - David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire - Simon Beaufoy
Dean Spanley - Alan Sharp
Mamma Mia - Catherine Johnson
Brideshead Revisited - Jeremy Brock, Andrew Davies
Adulthood - Noel Clarke
Eden Lake - James Watkins
The Edge of Love - Sharman MacDonald
Hope Eternal - Karl Francis
How To Lose Friends And Alienate People - Peter Straughan
Incendiary - Sharon Maguire
RocknRolla - Guy Ritchie
Somers Town - Paul Fraser
The Damned United - Peter Morgan
Rage - Sally Potter
Genova - Laurence Coriat, Michael Winterbottom
The Other Man - Charles Wood, Richard Eyre
I know, You Know - Justin Kerrigan
Love Live Long - Mike Figgis
New Town Killers - Richard Jobson
French Film - Aschlin Ditta
Puffball - Dan Weldon, Fay Weldon
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging - Gurinder Chada, Paul Mayeda Berges, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi
Death Defying Acts - Tony Grisoni and Brian Ward
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - David Magee and Simon Beaufoy
Bigga Than Ben - Suzie Halewood
The Duchess - Saul Dibb, the director, has a co-writing credit for this with two non-British writers, Jeffrey Hatcher and Anders Thomas Jensen
Easy Virtue - Stephan Elliot, Sheridan Jobbins
Far North - Asif Kapadia, Tim Miller, Sara Maitland (story)
The Broken - Sean Ellis
The Young Victoria - Julian Fellowes
Reverb - Eltan Arrusi
Hush - Mark Tonderai
The Boat That Rocked - Richard Curtis
Cheri - Christopher Hampton
Quantum of Solace - Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, (US writer Paul Haggis also gets a credit on this)
Hunger - Steve McQueen, Enda Walsh.

Please send nominations in any or all of the above categories by email to with your full name and Guild membership number. Please make it clear which writers you are nominating in which categories. Please nominate only one title in each category.

Nominations may also be submitted by post to the Guild office. Please mark envelopes “Award nominations”, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, 40 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4RX.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 28 August 2009 and the shortlist will be announced on Wednesday 30 September 2009. The winners will be announced on Sunday 29 November 2009.

Book Rights Registry Q&A

In Book Business, Heather Fletcher talks to Michael Healy, the first Executive Director of the Book Rights Registry - the organisation created as part of the Google Books Settlement agreement.
The Book Rights Registry (pending the approval of the settlement at the fairness hearing on Oct. 7) will oversee the collection and disbursement of revenue from the Google Library Program to authors, publishers and other rights holders, as well as resolve disputes and handle other responsibilities outlined in the settlement agreement.

Healy, who is currently the executive director of the industry organization Book Industry Study Group (a position from which he is anticipated to step down this fall), will be responsible for ensuring the Book Rights Registry makes the necessary cash payments to copyright holders whose works were digitized by Google without their permission as part of the Google Library Program. Then, he will have to oversee database organization for all the works digitized as part of the Program (which currently includes more than 7 million books).

Games publishers look to China

For BBC News, Daniel Emery reports on a speech by Edward Williams from BMO Capital Markets about what Western video games makers can learn from the success of their Chinese counterparts.
What makes the difference between Western firms and Chinese developers was the way they went about getting products to players.

Western publishers, said Mr Williams, still relied on the traditional develop methods of putting a game on a DVD and then selling that through retail channels.

Chinese developers focussed primarily on the PC market and used direct download, rather than retail stores, to get games to consumers.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

CAREY ANDREWS wrote the episode of EastEnders going out BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 17th August.

RICHARD BURKE wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 21st August.

DAVE COHEN'S first new one-man show in 15 years, My Life As A Footnote begins on Tuesday 1st September at Downstairs at the King's Head as part of the Storytelling Night, which starts 8:00pm.

JOHN FINNEMORE wrote the episode of Cabin Pressure "Limerick" going out on Friday 21st August.

MARCUS GOODWIN wrote the episode of Doctors "There's No Telling 1/2" going out on Wednesday 19th August.

CAROLINE HARRINGTON wrote the episode of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 16th till Friday 21st August with each episode being repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

ANDREW HOLDEN wrote the episode of Holby City "The Blind Side" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 18th August.

JAYNE HOLLINSON wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Friday 21st August.

NICHOLAS HORWOOD has won the comedy category in the 2nd Annual StoryPros Screenwriting contest with his screenplay Mindbender

JOHN KERR wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 20th August.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 21st August.

JIMMY MCGOVERN co-wrote the episode of The Street going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Monday 17th August.

SUE MOONEY wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19thAugust.

MOYA O'SHEA'S new romantic comedy Room Service premieres at the Farnham Rep 20th-23th August. It stars Ben Warwick and Fliss Walton and is directed by Maurice Thorogood. For more details check out the website at

JEFF POVEY wrote the episode of Kingdom going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Friday 21st August.

The paperback edition of TONY READ'S last non-fiction book, The World on Fire: 1919 and the Battle with Bolshevism was published by Pimlico on 6th August.

GILLIAN RICHMOND wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 20th and at 8:00pm on Friday 21st August.

EVE SPENCE wrote the episode of Doctors "In the Cold Hard Light of Day" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Friday 21st August.

DAVID STAFFORD co-wrote the episode of Hazelbeach going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Monday 17th August.

JOE TURNER wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on and at 8:30pm on Monday 17th August.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mark Gallagher defends ITV

In The Guardian, Mark Gallagher, ITV's director of group corporate affairs, defends the network's comedy and drama output.
ITV1 is the home of the top five new dramas on any channel in 2009, including Whitechapel, Above Suspicion and Unforgiven; in comedy, ITV1 again tops the charts with Harry Hill's Bafta award-winning TV Burp and the critically acclaimed and hugely successful Benidorm

Authors face tough times

In The Independent, Boyd Tonkin predicts that times are going to be tough for authors.
...a radical thinning of the ranks of long-haul professional writers looks unavoidable. Even if an upswing comes along, the drop in incomes that digitised reading brings means that, for many, authorship will slip from a semi-rational career option to a passionate hobby. Novelists outside the bestseller lists may have to work as poets long have, stitching together a liveable portfolio from gigs, teaching, grants, and sporadic literary jobs. Many well-known writers of the past 30 years also tended to assume that a comfy university position lay in store when sales fell away. No longer. The creative-writing vogue may well soon pass its peak, and British teaching posts demand hard work.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Storytelling revival

In The Times, Ben Hoyle reports on how storytelling is pulling in the crowds.
Edinburgh is awash with storytelling shows aimed at grown-ups this year. The Pleasance venues lead the way with Rose Reid’s mixture of folk tales and song, a mesmerising retelling of episodes from the life of St Francis of Assisi, The Odyssey and a twisted modern version of the Icarus myth.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre, on Royal Mile, starts a series of adult storytelling evenings today and this month one of the most anticipated events at the Edinburgh Book Festival is the European debut of The Moth, a New York storytelling salon that has become an American literary phenomenon, touring the US and enjoying 600,000 iTunes downloads a month.

Tomorrow the National Theatre in London begins its first adult storytelling strand with two tellers performing in a tent by the Thames each night. The Crick Crack Club has been building a storytelling audience for 20 years and its events at the Barbican and the Soho Theatre are regularly sold out.

Digital Toolkit training

The Writers' Guild is working with five other members of the Federation of Entertainment Unions to provide digital media training for members.

The various training days will cover:
  • Creating your own website
  • Researching resources on the internet
  • Writing for the web
  • Exploiting multi-platform content
  • Social networks and self-marketing
  • Sound and video: podcasts and vidcasts
The cost of each training day is either £30 or £50, depending on the course. They will take place at either the Manchester Digital Development Agency in central Manchester or St. Anthony’s Centre in Trafford Park.

Full details, including how to book, can be found in the Digital Toolkit leaflet (pdf).

Making Of

A new-ish venture from America, Making Of goes behind the scenes to talk to people in the film industry who don't normally get much attention. Like screenwriters.

Here's Melissa Rosenberg on adapting Stephenie Meyers' Twilight books.

There are also regular blog posts, such as this one by screenwriter Don Roos.
If you're trying to write a screenplay, use a Kitchen Timer!

The principle of Kitchen Timer is that every writer deserves a definite and do-able way of being and feeling successful every day. To do this, we learn to judge ourselves on behavior rather than content. (We leave content to our unconscious; experience will teach us to trust that.) We set up a goal for ourselves as writers which is easy, measurable, free of anxiety, and fail-proof, because everyone can sit, and an hour will always pass.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blake Snyder 1957-2009

Blake Snyder, screenwriter, producer and author of the Save the Cat! series of books on screenwriting has died at the age of 51.

He was blogging up to the day before he died. His final post begins:
I love writers. And I especially enjoy helping young writers who email with the big question: When? When will I sell my first script? When will I “get on the boards”? My patient reply is always the same: Don’t worry about that right now. Have fun! The most important thing to do is to love what you’re doing. That way, getting better at it isn’t a struggle, it’s a pleasure.

Magnus Mills interview

In The Telegraph, Julian Flanagan talks to novelist Magnus Mills about his new book, The Maintenance Of Headway,and why he still works as a bus driver.
Mills's characters rarely have inner lives.

"That's just how I write." He adds, without rancour, "I think I'll never be on the Booker Prize list again because my books don't fit into that. There are no pages of inner reflection. I can't be bothered with that."

Does Mills actually want to write more?

"Not at the moment, but I suppose I will. I'm a bit lazy about writing. I spend hours listening to music, messing about with my plants. I'm teaching myself piano. When I'm writing, I love it. But I've got so many other things."

Northern Voices

From BBC Writersroom:
BBC writersroom, Northern Film & Media, Screen Yorkshire, and Northwest Vision + Media are searching for exceptional writers from the North who want to write drama for television. If you have a strong individual voice, the ability to create great characters and tell compelling stories, and a real passion for television drama, you could take part in Northern Voices.

Northern Voices will provide training and development for up to four writers from each region to learn about writing for television drama from some of the most experienced producers and writers in the country. It will also provide the opportunity to develop an original TV drama calling card script with the support of a writer mentor.

Northern Voices will include a day long workshop led by John Yorke, BBC Controller, Drama Production. This workshop will give a detailed and invaluable insight into writing continuing drama for the BBC. The scheme will also include access to a nationally renowned writer mentor in each region.
Full details are available on the BBC Writersroom website. The closing date for applications is 28 August 2009.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tweet tweet!

Guest post: Martin Day (@sirdigbychicken) explains what writers can gain from using the free microblogging service Twitter.

In order to understand Twitter from a writer’s perspective, I think you first have to see how it differs from that other social networking site du jour, Facebook. Once you get beyond the vampire games and the quizzes (hey, I’m a freelance writer; ridiculous displacement activities go with the territory), Facebook is essentially a way of staying up to date with family and friends. It allows you to swap photos and gossip and generally feel that you know what your mates are up to, even if you can’t be bothered actually communicating with them (am I wrong to think it’s particularly helpful for us blokes in that regard?).

Twitter is different. You have to agree to let someone be your Facebook ‘friend’; on Twitter, you can ‘follow’ anyone. One click, and you instantly know what Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) and Jonathan Ross (@Wossy) are doing, almost every hour of almost every day. It’s legitimised celebrity stalking, more accurate (and interesting) than the gutter press, and you don’t have to take a bath afterwards to feel clean.

Fine, you say. Who wouldn’t want to imagine they’re living the life of Fry, or bask a little in its reflected glory? So, it’s another displacement activity – a stream-of-consciousness glance into the lives and minds of random people, most of whom you will never meet. Perhaps Catholic critics have a point: if Twitter were to vanish tomorrow I’m sure it wouldn’t directly affect my ability to write (or form a relationship).

However, I would miss the palpable sense of community and camaraderie, and would doubtless be a good deal grumpier as I went about my business. I tend to follow writers and producers (and seem to have a handful following me), and it lulls me into thinking that I am not alone. If I want to whinge about poverty, deadlines, commissions, or lack of commissions, I can – all in 140 characters. It’s like a haiku of unfiltered honesty. It might not make sense to everyone who reads it, but for those who work in TV or publishing or the media generally, there may be an understanding, even a nod of sympathy.

So, it’s a community, of sorts – a pun-obsessed, self-absorbed community of navel-gazers, perhaps, but a community all the same. And we all need a community, especially if we’re starving in our garrets and the only communities we can see from our seats are the fascinating moulds evolving in our coffee mugs.

Twitter has its practical side, too. Occasionally a status update will become a plea for help (technology queries are common); even more rarely, a complete stranger will send a message (also limited to 140 characters!) that might contain the answer we’re searching for. Even if it’s only switch it off, and start again.

There are, I’m sure, many more interesting and vital uses of Twitter than this self-help group for hacks that I’ve described. I loved what happened on Twitter during the contested elections in Iran – very real and practical progress was being made and help was being offered even as we tweeted – and I haven’t even addressed Twitter’s ability to act as something of a mini-RSS/news feed – the Media Guardian (@mediaguardian), BAFTA (@Baftaonline) and, of course, the Guild (@TheWritersGuild) are all worth following. (And, as I live in Somerset, a plug here for South West Screen (@southwestscreen).)

But where else can one find insights and ponderings from Douglas Coupland (@DougCoupland) rubbing shoulders with the latest from Mike Skinner of The Streets (@skinnermike), and nuggets of wisdom from the QI elves?

Get yourself a Twitter account, follow the elves (@qikipedia), and I can guarantee you will learn at least one interesting thing, every day, and possibly even before breakfast. What other displacement activity can you, hand on heart, say that about?

Nancy Miller interview

For the Writers Guild of America West, Nancy Miller, creator and executive producer of Saving Grace, explains what she looks for in a writer.

Rona Munro interview

In The Guardian, Rona Munro tells Charlotte Higgins about her new play, The Last Witch, and reflects on having written the last episode of the pre-Russell T Davies Doctor Who.
"This," she says with mock portentousness, as she munches a sandwich at the Traverse theatre's rehearsal room in Leith, Edinburgh, "is my chance to say it. I don't think the Doctor should have fallen in love with anybody. I think that's wrong. I don't think there should be any snogging or any sexual tension because" – she gets even more mock-grand – "he's a time lord, and his companion is but a mortal." Despite the good cheer, you know she means it. The running sexual tension between the Doctor and his various sidekicks has, she reckons, been "lazy".

Friday, August 07, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

EMMA ADAMS' play Forgotten Things has been shortlisted for the 18th Mayer-Whitworth Award. It is being performed at the King Dome Pleasance in Edinburgh until the end of August. This acclaimed cross-generational story fuses puppetry, innovative theatre and surreal style, and wowed audiences during its first tour last year.

BENNETT ARRON wrote (and appears in!) the TV Movie of Genie in The House on Nickelodeon on Saturday 15th August.

ABI BOWN wrote the episode of Holby City "These Arms of Mine" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 11th August.

MARK BURT wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 10th August.

MICHAEL CHAPLIN'S radio play The Song Thief is going out on Radio 4 at 2:30pm on Saturday 8th August.

DAVE COHEN will have his first one-man show in 15 years on Tuesday 1st September at Downstairs at the King's Head as part of the Storytelling Night, which starts 8/8.30ish. It's called My Life As A Footnote...

NICK DEAR'S dramatisation of Agatha Christie's Poirot "Cards on the Table" going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Sunday 9th August.

STEVEN FAY wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Wednesday 12th August.

LOL FLETCHER wrote the episode of Doctors "Hot Milk and Butterscotch" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 11th August.

ADRIAN FLYNN wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 9th till Friday 14th August with each episode being repeated the day following its original broadcast.

GUY HIBBERT co-wrote the BAFTA award winning drama Omagh going out on C4 at 10:50pm on Tuesday 11th August.

JANE MARLOW wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 10th August.

IAIN FINLAY MACLEOD'S radio play The Summer Walking is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Wednesday 12th August.

JOHN FINNEMORE wrote the episode of Cabin Pressure "Kuala Lumpur" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Friday 14th August.

DAVID MCDERMOTT wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 14th August.

JIMMY MCGOVERN co-wrote the episode of The Street going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Monday 10th August.

JESSE O'MAHONEY wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 11th August.

JULIE PARSONS wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th August.

HEATHER ROBSON wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Thursday 13th and Friday 14th August.

DAVID STAFFORD co-wrote the episode of Hazelbeach going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 10th August.

BILL TAYLOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 10th August.

JOE TURNER wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Friday 14th August.

KARIN YOUNG wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 13th August.

JAN WATTS has been voted on as Secretary on the Board of Trustees of the International Center for Women Playwrights. ICWP is a virtual organisation that supports women playwrights and has over 400 members all over the World.

KATHARINE WAY wrote the episode of Doctors "Magic" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Thursday 13th August.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cormac and Marianne Wibberley on G-Force

For the Writers Guild of America West, Dylan Callaghan talks to Cormac and Marianne Wibberley about their screenplay for the new animated film G-Force.
Was the premise of a band of specially trained guinea pigs yours?

Cormac Wibberley: No, it was Hoyt Yeatman’s. He had an 11-page treatment that he’d done some artwork on.

Marianne Wibberley: It’s nice when you get to that place and you’re not just in your office slogging it out, when someone comes to you with an idea, and they have drawings and stuff. It’s great. We basically added the twist that they get disbanded and thrown in a regular pet shop where they have to be regular pets but don’t know how. That was a concept that we brought to the table.

After getting that initial premise and artwork, what emerged for you as the core of the story?

Marianne Wibberley: The core of it for us was that these guys never got to prove themselves. The original idea didn’t have that. That’s why we thought it would be fun to disband them, have them told that they’re just ordinary and then have to prove that they’re not. That part was emotionally exciting for us, that they become underdogs and not just kick-ass guinea pigs.

And also, we just thought it would be fun to spoof a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. You know, we’d done Bad Boys and National Treasure one and two, and we thought it would be fun to wink, wink at the whole genre.
G-Force is currently on general release in the UK. Here's a link to the trailer on YouTube.

Arts Council England's Theatre Assessment 2009

Last year Arts Council England (ACE) embarked on a Theatre Assessment to gather an up-to-date picture of theatre in England. In particular, they looked to identify changes that had occurred in the theatre sector and its environment since the Theatre Review of 2001 and the additional £25 million that ACE invested in theatre organisations from 2003 onwards.

The findings, based on a consultation led by Anne Millman and Jodi Myers (to which the Writers' Guild Theatre Committee contributed), have now been published as ACE's Theatre Assessment 2009.

Issues relating to playwrights are mentioned in several places - indeed, there's a whole section on new writing. Here are a couple of findings:
"There was a widespread view among practitioners that while there had been a growth in development of writers there had been a reduction in the amount of work commissioned and produced. This was particularly linked to changes in the touring circuit, and perceptions that it had become increasingly difficult to place ‘straight’ play."
"Respondents observed that a focus on process rather than outcome has left some writers out in the cold, without support to draw them into the collaborative approach. On the positive side, respondents identified the development of individual skills through collaborative working."
There's a summary of the report's findings relating to writers on the Guild website, along with additional comments from the Chair of the Guild's Theatre Committee, David James.

As David notes, a report from ACE specifically on new theatre writing and how writers work in the theatre is planned for publication next month.

Budd Schulberg 1914-2009

Budd Schulberg, one of the great American screenwriters, has died at the age of 95.

Most famous for his screenplay for On The Waterfront, he also wrote the classic Hollywood novel, What Makes Sammy Run?

Some obituaries: The Telegraph, The Guardian, Time and, by Michael Weiner in The New York Times.
Mr. Schulberg...wrote journalism, short stories, novels and biographies. He collaborated with F. Scott Fitzgerald, arrested the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and named names before a Communist-hunting Congressional committee. But he was best known for writing some of the most famous lines in the history of the movies.

Some were delivered by Marlon Brando playing the longshoreman Terry Malloy in the 1954 film “On the Waterfront.” Malloy had lost a shot at a prizefighting title by taking a fall for easy money.

“I coulda been a contender,” Malloy tells his brother, Charley (Rod Steiger). “I coulda been somebody. Instead of a bum, which is what I am.”
The New York Times also has a video interview with Schulberg recorded in 2006, while The LA Times has a photo gallery recalling some of the key moments in his life.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Working class exclusion

In The Independent, novelist Dreda Say Mitchell argues that working class voices are being excluded from mainstream culture.
Even a generation ago, things were very different. That great generation of working-class artists that came to prominence in the 1960s were still at work. Harold Pinter was writing plays, Keith Waterhouse was writing novels, Galton and Simpson wrote comedy drama that was as good as Beckett and a lot funnier.

Barrie Keeffe, now best remembered for The Long Good Friday, wrote a series of television plays on working-class themes in the 1970s that were subversive and incendiary. But if Dennis Potter turned up at a TV station in 2009, they'd probably put a security guard's uniform on him and tell him to keep the riff-raff out.

Christopher Hampton: my week

In The Observer, Guild member Christopher Hampton offers a peek into his diary.
Friday was very much Coco Chanel day for me: the day of the release of the new film Coco Avant Chanel. The director, Anne Fontaine , has been a friend for quite a long time and she got me involved as an "adviser".

She was working with a young writer just out of film school called Camille Fontaine (no relation). Once they'd produced a first draft, I went over for a week and talked it through with them both. Then I did the same after the second draft and again before Anne started shooting. It was the ideal job: relaxed conversation in a Paris hotel and no actual writing.

Youth versus experience in playwriting

On The Guardian Theatre Blog, Lyn Gardner argues that theatres shouldn't prioritise giving young playwrights opportunities over helping experienced playwrights develop a career. has probably never been a better time for emerging writers to have their talent spotted. Such is the proliferation of new writing schemes, hungry like monsters, that need to be fed with ever younger talent to justify their own existence. But what happens after that first play, when the interest is not so acute? How is a career sustained for the long haul – particularly when so few new plays get a further life on UK stages?
That's something that the Guild has been lobbying about and it has been identified as an issue in the new Arts Council Theatre Assessment (more on which to come here soon).

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting Annual Report

Media regulator Ofcom has published its 2009 Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Annual Report.

PSB broadcasters are the BBC, ITV1, GMTV, Channel 4, Five, S4C and Teletext and the report is intended to provide "an up-to-date evidence base of the current delivery of public service content in the UK and gives a factual account of broadcast hours, viewing figures and audience opinions of the channels over the last five years."

The findings are not encouraging for anyone who values PSB, with output and expenditure down across the board. First-run originated output spend is down by just under 15% since 2004 and viewing down by a similar amount. About the only good news is that online viewing options, such as the BBC iPlayer, have increased the accessibility of content.

Children's programming has been particularly badly hit: "UK first-run originated hours of Children’s programmes broadcast on the five main PSB channels and on CBeebies/CBBC fell by 51% between 2004 and 2008. Investment in first-run originated children’s programming by these channels fell by just over a third between 2004 and 2008, with spend by the commercial PSBs down from £42m to £11m.

"There was also a reduction in the proportion of viewing by children of the Children’s genre on the five main PSB channels (32% in 2004 to 12% in 2008). Despite increased viewing on the BBC digital children’s channels (from 15% in 2004 to 24% in 2008), there was an overall decrease in the proportion of viewing on the five main PSB channels and BBC digital channels combined (47% in 2004 to 36% in 2008)."

However, "the dedicated Children’s channels, CBBC and CBeebies, received high ratings on offering a wide range of high-quality and UK-made programmes for children from the parents of children regularly watching them; 71% rated CBBC highly and 82% rated CBeebies highly on this measure in 2008."

The report's findings have led some to question whether the BBC has set its priorities correctly, given that PSB is supposed to be the cornerstone of its programming priorities.

Guild agrees increases in radio rates

Higher minimum rates for BBC radio writers came into force from 1 August 2009. The increase is 1.4%, but because of its financial problems and cuts the BBC says it will not pay the increase to writers earning above the minimum.

The Guild’s Radio Drama Agreement, which covers scripted drama and comedy for Radio 4 and Radio 3, sees an increase in the basic rate per minute from £51.01 to £51.72. Most commissions are based on a special two-transmissions rate, which goes up from £85.02 to £86.21 per minute. Commissions are on the basis of the programme slot-length, not the exact number of minutes broadcast. There are lower “Beginners’ Rates” for writers who have had less than 95 minutes’ work transmitted.

The special rate for The Archers goes up from £863 to £875 per episode, but the rate for Silver Street is pegged at £422 because the episode length has been cut from 8 to 5 minutes. There are increases for short stories and abridgements but the attendance payment stays at £50. For Radio Features the per-minute rate goes from £40.65 to £41.22, with a new minimum of £288.54 (equal to seven minutes).

There are also increases for Radio Talks contributions.

Full details of the new rates are available for download from the Rates and Agreements section on the Guild website.

These increases do not apply to repeats on the digital service BBC Radio 7, which comes under a separate agreement that can also be found on the Guild website.

All about time-travel

On his blog, Stephen Gallagher considers various ways of using time-travel in scripts and stories.
The most obvious form is the 'paradox romp' like Back to the Future, where something in the past gets changed, and repairs have to be made to safeguard the present as we know it. There's a '70s Czech comedy called Tomorrow I shall Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea that involves defeated Nazis trying to go back and give the H-bomb to Hitler. The Terminator is one of these, inverting the concept so that the aim is to prevent an unpleasant future rather than preserve the timeline. NBC's Journeyman featured the same kind of action on a weekly basis, with Kevin McKidd going back to change individual lives for the better. Which is laudable but not half as much fun as killer robots. In Harlan Ellison's Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever, Kirk has to watch Joan Collins get hit by a car knowing that if he saves her, Hitler gets atomic weapons (again).

Tough times for TV comedies

In The Guardian, Stephen Armstrong asks why its so hard to get TV comedy commissions and wonders if Sky will be able to challenge the terrestrial broadcasters.
For Sky, a huge comedy hit would help the broadcaster keep customers loyal."If they developed the new Friends, they'd get women buying set-top boxes like crazy," says Lorraine Heggessey, chief executive of Talkback Thames. "That's got to be what they're after - but then so is everyone, and it's harder to commission to order than any other genre. You can't paint by numbers with comedy."
Of course, developing "the new Friends" might be a bit too much to expect, but to see Sky commissioning any original comedy content will be encouraging.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Writers’ Guild Awards 2009 – call for nominations from Guild Members

It is time to send in your nominations for the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards 2009. All members of the Writers’ Guild are entitled to nominate in all categories – so don’t miss this opportunity to nominate any great writing you have come across in the past year, whether in theatre plays, films, books, radio, television or video game scripts.

The award categories are as follows:
  • Book (Fiction) *
  • Book (Non-Fiction) *
  • Feature Film Screenplay
  • Feature Film Screenplay – Newcomer
  • Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Writing
  • Radio Comedy / Light Entertainment
  • Radio Drama
  • Television Comedy / Light Entertainment
  • Television Drama Series
  • Television Short-form Drama **
  • Television Soap / Continuing Drama ***
  • Theatre Play
  • Theatre Play for Children and Young People
  • Video Game Script

* Submissions for the Book Awards will also be sought from publishers.
** Short-form drama is defined as being broadcast in a maximum of five parts.
*** Soap / Continuing Drama is defined as high-volume long-running TV drama series with one or more new episode broadcast per week. Television Short-form Drama and Drama Series may include adaptations.

Awards are made to the writer(s), not the production as a whole, so please make your nominations based on the quality of the writing not the standard of production. Nominated writer(s) must be British or work in Britain. To be eligible programmes / plays / games, etc. must have been first released, published, performed or broadcast during the period 1 June 2008 to 31 May 2009 inclusive.

If you have any questions about this, please contact the Guild office.

Please send nominations in any or all of the above categories by email to with your full name and Guild membership number. Please make it clear which writers you are nominating in which categories. Please nominate only one title in each category.

Nominations may also be submitted by post to the Guild office. Please mark envelopes “Award nominations”, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, 40 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4RX.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 28 August 2009 and the shortlist will be announced on Wednesday 30 September 2009. The winners will be announced on Sunday 29 November 2009.

The shortlists and winners in each category will be chosen by the relevant Guild Craft Committee or an appropriate jury appointed by the Guild’s Executive Council. There will also be a Lifetime Achievement Award which will be awarded to a Guild member by the Executive Council.

Give female playwrights freedom to write

The debate over the treatment of female writers in general and playwrights in particular continues (see here, here and here for some previous coverage).

In The Stage, Lucy Perman, executive director of women’s theatre company Clean Break, argues that sexism exists in the industry and suggests how it might be overcome.
There is still a distrust of women in many spheres and in theatre, I believe, a resistance to giving female artists a platform for their own voice. In limiting their voices, we limit our audiences’ view of the world. Expectations and sometimes desire for women’s work tend towards safe and comfortable territory, which reinforces the still stereotypical view of women in society. There’s the kitchen sink drama, the fractured lyrical poetic lament, the character-led piece, plays that aren’t overtly political, plays that don’t challenge the theatre establishment or audiences in their form or content.

Of course, I’m generalising, as there are indisputable successes that chart new territory. However, more freedom for women to write about what’s important to them through open commissions, with the right support structures and fees and, crucially, a commitment to produce, will bring new narratives on to our stages.

Summing up post-Garnett

In Broadcast, Katherine Rushton attempts to summarise the feelings of writers in the aftermath of Tony Garnett's attack on BBC TV drama. It's a good round-up of the differing opinions and ends with an open letter to Jana Bennett, Director of BBC Vision, that includes a call for more respect for writers.
Suppliers want commissioning editors to have more faith that writers and indie execs will do their jobs properly. Yes, they need to debate whether ideas they are working on are already being covered elsewhere, but commissioners should trust them to do their jobs without giving notes for the sake of it. And when the notes do come, they need to be clear and respect the writer’s integrity. One producer says: “If we come to you with an author-driven piece, the notes shouldn’t be about changing the entire plot or character.”

Saturday, August 01, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

JULIE JONES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 3rd August.

JOHN KERR wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 6th August.

DAVID LANE wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 3rd August.

LARRAINE MCCANN'S The Love Shop is being preformed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 10th till 16th August at 7:15pm at Augustines, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh (Venue 152). Tickets at £8 or £6 concession (two for one on Mondy 10th August)

JIMMY MCGOVERN and PETER LLOYD co-wrote the episode of The Street going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Monday 3rd August.

RICHARD MONKS' radio play The Tower is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Wednesday 5th August.

SUE MOONEY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 3rd August.

P.G. MORGAN has received an Emmy nomination for Best Non-Fiction Writing for his work on the HBO/BBC documentary "Roman Polanski : Wanted and Desired.

DEBBIE OATES'S radio play Normal And Nat is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Thursday 6th August.

CHRISTOPHER REASON wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th August.

DAVID STAFFORD co-wrote the episode of Hazelbeach going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Monday 3rd August.

TIM STIMPSON wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 2nd till Friday 7th August with each episode being repeated the day following its original broadcast.

COLIN WAKEFIELD's new actor/musician version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, with music and lyrics by KATE EDGAR, has been published by Josef Weinberger Plays. The show was commissioned and first performed by Theatre Royal Margate in December 2008. This is their 11th pantomime script published by Josef Weinberger.

JOHN WILSHER wrote the episode of New Tricks "Shadow Show" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 6th August.

Google Books Settlement discussion

On the PersonaNonData blog, a discussion about the Google Books Settlement at Harvard, featuring Alex Macgillivray and Dan Clancy from Google.

Reminder: here's the WGGB's advice to members on the subject.