Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ben Stephenson interview

On the BBC Writersroom website, an interview with Ben Stephenson - Controller, Drama Commissioning for the BBC.
People tend to have a view that some things go round all the broadcasters until somebody bites, is that how it really works?

I don't really like it if people pitch them to all three of us because I think that puts us into a competitive place, which I would just take the BBC out of. If it's right for all of us, then it's not right for the BBC. Also that then becomes a commercial process and we're not commercial so I just exempt ourselves from that process.


  1. Anonymous4:56 pm

    One reason things go to other broadcasters and it appears to become a three-way trawl is because scripts stay so long unread on BS's pile - which even for things already under contract to the BBC takes many months and requires Byzantine political lobbying. It's possible to get a project from treatment to green light with either of the other two channels via the right independent in that time.

  2. Anonymous8:31 pm

    I wonder if Ben - and other commissioners - really, truly appreciate that while they receive a regular salary, we do not. Just how long are we supposed to put our careers and incomes on hold while we wait for someone to read a script? I had to wait two years for the BBC once - admittedly for the channel controller, rather than drama commissioner - but how are we supposed to subsist when this is what we are up against? We can of course develop more projects, but when the same thing happens to them....... urgh, nuf said.

  3. Anonymous11:36 am

    "then becomes a commercial process and we're not commercial so I just exempt ourselves from that process."

    If buying and selling scripts isn't a commercial process, then what it? Yes writers write their best scripts for love... but also we love to eat. Reality check time.

  4. Anonymous12:00 pm

    The other problem with BS (interesting initials) taking so flaming long to read anything is that by the time he has, the producer that was championing you has usually moved on. usually to ITV or C4. Might as well sut out the middle man. Reality check time indeed.

  5. Anonymous4:35 pm

    So the BBC has to pay its execs top whack so they can compete in the marketplace but writers aren't allowed to get the best deal possible for their work? Er...


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