Monday, August 30, 2010

Podcast transcripts

We're doing transcripts of the most recent Writers' Guild podcasts, starting with this one of the interview with writer Jack Thorne.
The big influence was whoever was writing EastEnders that week. I loved that show when I and I think that was probably the biggest influence on me working out what writers did – though I did think the actors made up the words. That sort of storytelling was a huge influence on me. In terms of playwrights I tend to admire the writers I can’t write like – so I don’t know if they’re an influence on me but they’re people who I just think are incredible . The likes of Sarah Kane and Dennis Kelly – the really poetic writers; and I’m not poetic. Ronald Harwood I think is a genius and I would watch any film he has written.
Update: The transcript of the discussion about the impact of public spending cuts is now online. Also features analysis of the recent Guild/ITV drama agreement.

RIP The Bill

As ITV's police series The Bill comes to an end, on the Writers' Guild website writer Gregory Evans (right) reflects on the show's significance.
I heard about Alan Plater's death on the day of the Bill wrap party.

The party seemed significant enough in itself, a celebration-cum-wake marking the end, after a run of 27 years, of British television's most popular police series. And, on a personal note, the end of an 18-year period in my own writing career: my first episode of The Bill was screened in 1992, my final episode went out in June this year.

Between those two dates I’ve chalked up 27 episodes (or so it says on IMDb: I haven’t been counting). Despite this, I've never really thought of myself as a Bill writer: I’m just a writer who sometimes worked on The Bill, and loved the show, as contributor and viewer, for most of its long and varied life (half-hours, hours; once, twice, three times a week; and, finally, uneasily, post-watershed).

Some years I wrote three or four episodes, others I was busy with other work so I didn’t make that long, boring journey down to Merton. (For those who've never had the pleasure, Merton – which a few years ago mysteriously became South Wimbledon – the last-stop-but-one on the Northern Line, is where The Bill studios and production offices are, or rather were, situated.)

Once I took a seven-year break from The Bill from 2001 to 2008, when, under executive producer Paul Marquess, it took an eye-stingingly soapy turn that I didn’t much care for (though, to be fair, many viewers did: the reinvention slowed a long slow slide in the audience figures). And then, three years ago, I was pleased as punch to be invited back on the show after it rediscovered its police-procedural mojo under Johnathan Young.

The sad news of Alan Plater's death made the Bill wrap party seem more momentous than ever. In fact, it occurred to me that, in the subtext at least, the passing of something bigger than The Bill was being marked on that late-June evening. It seemed we were there to celebrate and mourn not only The Bill itself, not only a certain kind of cop show – realistic, defiantly low-concept, with its roots in ‘ordinary’, i.e. working-class, life (reports of Alan's death mentioned his early work on Z-Cars, which broke the ground The Bill built on and occupied for so long), but also a particular kind of television drama: distinctively British, often regional; writer-led (therefore well-crafted, thoughtful and emotionally true); quietly confident in what it does and how it does it. The kind of drama Alan Plater wrote throughout his long and illustrious career; the kind John Wilsher has been writing (a fair amount of it for The Bill) for 30 years.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Guild members are getting up to

SEBASTIAN BACZKIEWICZ'S radio play in four parts begins with the episode "The Drowned Church" on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 31st August.

DAVID BARRY, whose play A Friend of Ronnie's was showcased by Equity members at the Writers' Guild three years ago, performs at the Sarah Thorne Theatre Club, Broadstairs, on 18th and 19th September. He is also appearing in the one-act play which is presented by Katapult along with Maid/Man by US writer Rich Rubin, whose play recently won Katapult's one-act play competition.

DAVID CROFT and JIMMY PERRY co-wrote the episode of Dad's Army "The Lion Has Phones" going out on BBC2 at 8:30pm on Saturday 28th August.

IAN CURTEIS'S radio dramatisation of Boscobel goes out on Radio 4 at 2:30pm on Saturday 28th August.

RICHARD DAVIDSON wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 2nd September.

ANNE DOWNIE'S first novel The Witches of Pollock will be published by Capercaillie books on 6th October 2010. She will also be appearing at the National Theatre, London in Men Should Weep from 18th October.

LISA HOLDSWORTH wrote the episode of Waterloo Road going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Wednesday 1st September.

ALEX JONES' one-man play I'm A Minger! is touring again, beginning with a week of performances at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry 6th September, before embarking on a national tour, including Northern Ireland. Check out the website for a theatre near you:

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

SUE MOONEY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 30th August.

DAVID NOBBS co-wrote the episode of Reggie Perrin going out on BBC1 at 10:45pm on Wednesday 1st September.

DEBBIE OATES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Monday 30th August.

LESLEY CLARE O'NEILL wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 31st August.

HOWARD OVERMAN wrote the episode of Vexed going out on BBC2 at 9:00pm on Sunday 29th August.

CHRISTOPHER REASON wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 30th August.

PAUL ROUNDELL wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 2nd September.

WILLIAM STANTON’S play Foul Tide, about the destruction of a Devon village, is on at the Courtyard theatre in London from March 16th – 24th 2011

SUE TEDDERN wrote the serial, going out on Radio 4 at 10:45am, repeated at 7:45pm, Monday to Friday, 23rd to 27th August.

BERT TYLER-MOORE wrote the episode of Pete versus Life "Ollie's Girlfriend" going out on C4 at 10:00pm on Friday 3rd September.

LIL WARREN'S Sport is War...? is on at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival at The Sin Lounge (upstairs) - venue 339, Cowgate.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Sunday 29th August.

NIGEL WILLIAMS' radio comedy HR continues with the episode "Dogging" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 30th August.

JUSTIN YOUNG wrote the episode of Holby City "The Last Day of Summer" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 31st August.

All the TV in China

UK writers could get a royalties windfall from China’s booming economy and consumer society, with BBC Worldwide running a Beijing version of its Showcase event this week [Wednesday 25 August 2010] for more than 100 TV buyers from the country’s many channels.

China has a big appetite for children’s series such as Wibbly Pig and ZingZillas, and there are high hopes for this year’s drama hit Sherlock. Five hours of clips were translated into Mandarin for the event.

Showcase is already an annual fixture in Brighton, where there is a week-long sales festival each February, and Rio de Janeiro. More than half of Worldwide’s £1 billion-plus annual revenues are generated by overseas sales.

Drama and comedy writers generally receive 5.6 per cent of the sale price, so if a programme or series sells for £10,000 the writer’s share is £560.

But some shows are too dangerous to showcase, says Pierre Cheung, manager of Worldwide’s Beijing office: “There is no way we could screen The Thick of It as there is too much use of the f-word.” Really? What is the Mandarin for “flip”?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guy Hibbert challenges festivals to include more screenwriters

By Matthew Hemley in The Stage:
Five Minutes of Heaven and Omagh creator Guy Hibbert is spearheading a global campaign to stop screenwriters being excluded from film and television festivals where their work is shown.

The BAFTA-winning writer claims he and his counterparts are regularly shunned from such festivals, with the directors or actors being asked to appear instead. He argues this denies writers the credit they deserve and the chance to discuss their projects with senior figures in the industry.
There will be more on this Guild-backed campaign in the upcoming issue of the Guild's magazine, UK Writer.

New podcasts from the Writers' Guild

New podcasts are now available from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, featuring:
  • An interview with TV, radio, film and theatre writer Jack Thorne (transcript also available)
  • A discussion about the impact on writers of public spending cuts
  • Analysis of the recent Writers' Guild agreement with ITV.
You can hear the podcasts online at

Or you can find them in the iTunes store.

Podcasts from the Writers' Guild are also as an app for the iPhone/i Pod Touch and iPad. The app costs £1.19 ($1.99). Revenue is split three ways between the Guild, Apple and Wizzard Media (the app hosts). So for every person that buys the app around 40p goes to the Guild.

Some background information to go with these podcasts is avaialble here (pdf)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guild's response BBC Radio consultation

The Writers' Guild's response to the BBC Trust service review of Radio 3, Radio 4 & Radio 7 has been published on the Guild's website.

BBC Radio to offer more hours to independent sector

By Matthew Hemley for The Stage:
Independent producers of BBC radio drama will have the opportunity to bid for more programme slots on the Corporation’s networks following a review carried out by the BBC Trust.

The review looked at independent supply of radio programming, with the trust concluding that a further 10% of BBC Radio programming should be opened up to the independent sector, on top of the guaranteed 10% quota producers already benefit from.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What TV controllers want to see on the screen

In Media Guardian, channel controllers, including ITV's Peter Fincham, explain what they're keen to commission.
'[We're looking for] High quality original and compelling drama continues to be a major component of the ITV1 schedule, and we're looking for series of a variety of lengths for 9pm as well as some stripped opportunities and one-offs. Among the topics we're interested in are workplace drama; contemporary lives; comedy drama; and crime, if there is a unique angle.'

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Imison and Tinniswood Awards shortlists

The shortlists for the Imison and Tinniswood Awards for radio drama have been announced.

The Tinniswood Award

The Tinniswood Award honours the best original radio drama script broadcast in 2009.

  • The Moment You Feel It by Ed Harris
  • Ivan and the Dogs by Hattie Naylor
  • Cry Babies by Kim Newman
  • Vent by Nigel Smith
  • People Snogging in Public Places by Jack Thorne
The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, and the 2010 judges were Sheila Goff, John Tydeman and Katharine Way. The Award is administered by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

The Imison Award

The Imison Award honours the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio, broadcast in 2009. The shortlist this year is:
  • Trying by Erin Browne
  • The Road Wife by Eoin McNamee
  • The Lady of Kingsland Waste by J Parkes
  • Fifteen by Deborah Wain
The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. It is judged by members of the Society of Authors’ Broadcasting Committee (David Docherty (Chair), Mike Bartlett, Nazrin Choudhury, Alison Joseph, Nell Leyshon, Karen Liebreich, Sue Limb, Karl Sabbagh, Colin Teevan and Nick Warburton).

The presentation of the awards, by Rose Tremain, will take place on the evening of
Monday 4th October, at a private reception at the National Liberal Club, London.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What Guild members are getting up to

SIMON BRETT'S radio play Quirks goes out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Thursday 26th August.

MARK BURT wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 27th August.

JONATHAN DAVIDSON'S drama documentary Miss Balcombe's Orchard goes out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Monday 23rd August.

MATT EVANS wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Tuesday 24th August.

ROB GITTINS wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 26th August.

PETER KERRY wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 26th August.

DAVID LANE wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 27th August.

JESSICA LEA wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th August.

DAVID NOBBS co-wrote the first episode of the new series of Reggie Perin going out on BBC1 at 10:45pm on Wednesday 25th August.

HOWARD OVERMAN wrote the episode of Vexed going out on BBC2 at 9:00pm on Sunday 22nd August.

STEWART PERMUTT`S new play Real Babies Don`t Cry won a Fringe First Award and is being performed at the Gilded Balloon Teviot Row Bristo Square, Box Office: 0131 6222 6552 or till 29th August. It stars Richard Dempsey, Janet Prince, Mandi Symonds and the director is Gene David Kirk.

TIM PRICE wrote the episode of Holby City "'Til the Grave" going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Tuesday 25th August.

CAROLE SIMPSON SOLAZZO wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 22nd till Friday 27th August. Each episode is repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

SUE TEDDERN wrote the episode of the new series "A Clean Slate" going out on Radio 4 at 7:45pm on Monday 23rd August.

CHRIS THOMPSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 27th August.

JOE TURNER wrote the episode of Coronation Street on ITV1 at 8:30pm on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Monday 23rd August.

JAMES VOLLMAR'S one act play Timetable will feature in the Theatre Trail at this year's Arundel Festival, during which Drip Action Theatre Co will perform eight one act plays over eight days in eight different venues. First performances are on Saturday 21st August. More details from

KARIN YOUNG wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 23rd August.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Peggy Ramsay archive

On the Writers' Guild website Zoƫ Wilcox (right), cataloguer of modern literary manuscripts at the British Library, presents an insight into the life of one of the great figures of post-war theatre (first published in the Guild's magazine for members, UK Writer.
She must be our best-known playwrights’ agent. Forthright and formidable, Peggy Ramsay has become something of a legend in the theatre world whilst most agents have remained background figures in the careers of their famous clients. She has been played by Vanessa Redgrave and Maureen Lipman, immortalised in print and on the stage, but it is her own archive that best captures Peggy Ramsay in her own words. Acquired by the British Library in 1997, the archive of Margaret Ramsay Ltd is stuffed full of deliciously frank correspondence between Peggy and her clients. It has been my task to turn the fifty boxes of papers, scrapbooks, ledgers and other paraphernalia into a usable resource for researchers. In the process, I have learnt a lot about her and the writers she represented in theatre, film, radio and television.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

STV viewers to miss out on new ITV dramas

By Simon Johnson for
STV hopes ratings will increase as more Scottish programming makes its ways onto its schedules, but critics claim the cash-strapped channel is more interested in saving money by using cheaper alternatives.

...Among the shows in ITV’s autumn 2010 schedule that will not be shown Scotland is Downtown Abbey, is a period drama written by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes and starring Dame Maggie Smith.

[Another], Joe Maddison’s War [written by Alan Plater], stars Kevin Whately and Robson Green as two friends who reluctantly join the Home Guard.

Link via @davidbishop

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New interviews from BBC Writersroom

Three excellent new interviews from the BBC Writersroom:

1) Cheryl Taylor - the BBC's Controller, Comedy Commissioning.
Are there any priorities for you?

One of the big priorities which I've learned very quickly in this job, is that the minute you mention a priority you get a glut of things, so it quickly becomes too much. But I think blue collar comedy is something that the BBC have not really excelled at in recent years. I'd love more scripts that don't feel middle-class. For a while on BBC Two we had this bizarre spate of male middle-class menopause sitcoms like Saxondale and Fear, Stress and Anger. Actually Lead Balloon, which is coming back, sort of falls into that category too. It was all male, it was all middle class, it was all angsty stuff and it felt like a real rut actually. So yes, blue collar and more female comedy, more diverse comedy of every sort really.
2) Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Sebastian Baczkiewicz talk about writing for radio.
How do you feel about receiving notes?

Sebastian: Certainly with radio you have a relationship of trust with your producer. They're going to say things you sort-of-know, you just need someone else to say it as well.

And often that's a good part of the process of going away again and reworking it. So I welcome that other eye. I think it usually helps. Cos if you trust they're on your side, they are. I've worked once in my life with somebody I didn't really trust and the results were pretty disastrous, but that wasn't radio.

Rebecca: I think the scariest thing is giving it in initially and just thinking do they like it or not, does it work in any form. And if they say they like it, that's a relief.

I recently did a play with Jessica Dromgoole and she said "I love it. I don't think it needs any changing". And I was like "This is great. I've got the next month free!" And she said "But it's half the length it should be." Which is much worse news than "It's double the length it should be."

I think any notes that excite you are good notes. The hardest thing to know is what is working and what is not. But if someone says "We'll take this monologue away" and you feel like a lioness defending her cub then you know it's OK.
3) Tony Basgallop talks about writing Worried About The Boy.
You recently wrote Hughie Green, Most Sincerely for BBC 4. Are you particularly interested in biopics? What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing them?

I have a real difficulty in narrowing down ideas, so biographies help with that. They limit you to just the facts, and the stuff you can legally get away with. I've done the dead and I've done the living: John Prescott, the Apollo 11 astronauts, Hughie Green, Scott of the Antarctic... I really enjoy the challenge because it always seems impossible when you start out. Then you hit a point where the voice kicks in, and suddenly you're ok with it. You're walking and talking and thinking like that person. I hate the research because that involves reading, and I'm not particularly good at reading. So I buy audio books when I can. I get the facts in the end. I get as close to the person as I possibly can. There always seems to be an aspect in these people's lives that surprises me. When I've finished, I feel like I know them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

20th century authors: making the connections

To complement the new BBC Four series In Their Own Words: British Novelists, which starts tonight, the Open University has mapped the connections between 20th Century British novelists. A great way to while away some time instead of writing ;-)

Collinson's plans for Coronation Street

In The Guardian, Gareth McLean talks to Coronation Street's new producer, Phil Collinson:
Keeping an audience interested is the soap producer's perennial problem – and one that becomes more pressing as audiences grow increasingly skittish. For Collinson, the key is relying on the writing team.

"This is a show run by a senate and that's the writers' table. I chair that and I look strategically across the show. The papers like to paint you as Cutthroat Collinson, ever eager to wield the axe, but you can't run this show if you're power-hungry. You need so many other people – the story team, the writing team, the production team – to be on your side. I am enjoying the influence I have over it but I'm not an autocrat."

What next for CBeebies?

In MediaGuardian, Maggie Brown talks to Kay Benbow, the new controller of the BBC's channel for young children.
The key to Benbow's strategy is fairly simple: "I want CBeebies to be accessible and tangible, as if the audience can touch it, so that it is part of their lives, a positive thing." That means children taking a leading role in many programmes, or being involved in the continuity between the often bite-sized shows (none lasts more than about 22 minutes) that are screened between 6am and 7pm.

New hope for shows made for web

By Brian Stelter in The New York Times:
After a protracted drought, money is trickling back into the professional Web video industry. So-called branded entertainment deals like the one by Ikea are becoming more common, helping to nourish new programming. And venture capital firms are also paying new attention to the industry. My Damn Channel, which distributes “Easy to Assemble,” will announce a $4.4 million infusion of financing on Monday, joining companies like and Machinima in raising money this year.

The promise of Web video has risen and fallen over the last few years. What makes the current round of interest more compelling is the realization in the industry that Web video will not supplant television viewing anytime soon, just complement it. That partly explains why the companies have stopped labeling themselves “TV on the Internet.”

“We realized we were putting a burden on Web-original programming by trying to make it like TV,” said Lance Podell, the Next New Networks chief executive, who now calls his company a provider of “Web original programming.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

What Guild members are getting up to

ABBY AJAYI wrote the episode of Coming Up: I Don't Care going out on C4 at 11:40pm on Thursday 19th August.

BENNETT ARRON is performing his new show Bennett Arron Has Had Enough at the Canon's Gait, Edinburgh from August 19th - 28th. It's part of the Free Fringe. He is also hosting a one-off Sitcom Writing Workshop on August 26th from 1:15pm-2:15pm. Entry is free.

SARAH BAGSHAW wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 19th August.

PAUL COATES wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 16th August.

DAVID CROFT and JIMMY PERRY co-wrote the episode of Dad's Army "The Armoured Might of Lance Corporal Jones" going out on BBC2 at 6:00pm on Saturday 14th August.

SIMON CROWTHER wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 20th August.

MARK EVANS'S radio comedy series Bleak Expectations concludes with the episode "Chapter the Last: a Happy Life Broken and Then Mended a Bit" on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 16th August.

STEVEN FAY wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th August.

JOHN FINNEMORE'S radio comedy series Cabin Pressure continues with the episode Johannesburg going out on Radio 4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 17th August.

JONATHAN HARVEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 20th August.

JAYNE HOLLINSON wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 19th August.

JANE HOLLOWOOD wrote the episode of Heartbeat "Jobs for the Boys" going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Sunday 15th August.

JOHN KERR wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 16th August.

DARAN LITTLE wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Friday 20th August.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 16th August.

JAN McVERRY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Monday 16th August.

HOWARD OVERMAN wrote the episode of Misfits going out on C4 at 10:00pm on Saturday 14th August. He also wrote the first episode of the new series Vexed staring Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch going out on BBC2 at 9:00pm on Sunday 15th August.

JEREMY PAUL'S play The Secret of Sherlock Holmes with Peter Egan and Robert Daws, directed by Robin Herford, designed by Simon Higlett, is running at the Duchess Theatre, London WC2, until 11th September.

JANE PEARSON wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th August.

JAMES QUINN's new comedy TWENTY20 about cricket and how it mirrors modern life, continues in repertoire at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough till August 28th.

ALISTAIR RUTHERFORD wrote the script for the short film, Eight Words, which has been accepted for the New York City International Film Festival. The film will screen in competition on Monday 16th August.

CAROLE SIMPSON SOLAZZO wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 from Sunday 15th to Friday 20th August.

RICHARD STONEMAN wrote the episode of Doc Martin "Do Not Disturb" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Friday 20th August.

SIMON STRATTON won the John Brabourne Big 5 Comedy Award for his screenplay Get Miles.

KARIN YOUNG wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 20th August.

Developing the Writers' Guild website

Work will soon get underway to redevelop the WGGB website - refreshing the design, integrating the blog into the main site, bringing more functionality to the Find A Writer service and focusing on original written content and podcasts.

Are there any new features or content that you think we should include? Please add comments below

ps Google has now given the Guild website a clean bill of health following the recent security scare affecting our hosting company. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Who needs publishers?

In The Guardian, author Ray Connolly explains why he is 'doing a Dickens' – publishing his latest novel chapter by chapter, online.
It has often been said that, with the squeeze in publishing and the closing of so many bookshops, this is a terrible time to be an author. Well, maybe not. Perhaps the Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen and other rock acts, who reputedly made their first records privately, even in their bedrooms, are showing the way forward for writers.

Undoubtedly it will be difficult at first for most authors to be noticed in the dense forests of online information; it's not exactly like having a stack of books in a high street shop window. But writers are creative people. My bet is they'll find ways of publicising their wares not yet dreamed about.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anji Loman Field: Making a drama out of a crisis

Anji Loman Field's article on making a film in Cambodia to promote family planning, first published in The Guild's magazine UK Writer, is now available on our website.
In September 2009, InDevelopment Productions, which I set up last year, was commissioned by a British NGO based in Phnom Penh to make an hour-long drama aimed at encouraging Cambodian women to plan their families more effectively and to seek family-planning advice from reputable, responsible medical practitioners. The film also seeks to discourage women from seeking back-street abortions. Early abortion is legal here, but it’s not widely promoted and a lot of women look for help outside the (woefully inadequate) system. There are horror stories involving the use of a sharp stick to bring on spontaneous miscarriage, pouring acid into the woman’s vagina or simply giving her dodgy tablets that do not complete the job, leading to dangerous complications. Due to the understandable problems with reporting methods here there are no statistics at all for the numbers of deaths caused by backstreet and DIY abortions, but they are likely to be high.

Fitzrovia Radio Hour

By Will Gompertz for BBC News:
The Fitzrovia Radio Hour perform spoof 1940s radio plays - complete with sound effects. They are attired in evening dress, adopt cut-glass English accents and play in front of a live audience. They are at the Edinburgh Festival between Friday 6 August and Monday 30 August - playing at the Underbelly venue in the city.
There's a specially written sample on the BBC News website.

More info:

Writersroom article in BBC's Ariel newspaper

This week’s issue of the BBC in-house newspaper Ariel devotes its centre spread to a feature about writing, focusing on the BBC Writersroom. As most Writers’ Guild members don’t have access to Ariel, we are grateful to the editor for allowing us to reproduce the feature on our website and you can read it here (pdf).

Writers who have an ambition to work for the BBC may get some ideas, while for those who have previously written for Auntie it is a chance to eavesdrop on how they regard us: 'Writers are so important to the landscape of the BBC' – it’s official!

Being Victor - MTV's first web drama

By Jemima Kiss for Media Guardian:
MTV has revealed its first digital-only drama Being Victor, which has been quietly building up interest through an in-character blog and Twitter account since early July.

Following the popularity of issue-tackling reality shows like 16 and Pregnant, MTV wanted to combine a scripted drama with conversational tools, said MTV digital media director Dan Patton. The idea, he said, is to allow young people to talk about and deal with subjects in the series including sexuality, promiscuity, suicide and young carers. After three years at MTV, Patton said it is by far his favourite project and a chance to show what digital can achieve.
While I've found one writer blogging about it, I can't see any writers officially credited.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dress Circle discount

Dress Circle, the Covent Garden-based showbiz shop, is offering Writers' Guild members a 10% discount for over-the-counter sales on presentation of their membership cards.

(As yet, it is unable to offer this to mail-order customers. The discount will not apply with any other offers and no DC vouchers to be given.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Tesco's first film

In The Guardian, Patrick Barkham goes behind the scenes on the first film (made for DVD) financed by retail giant Tesco. M
aking a straight-to-DVD movie sold exclusively in Tesco is the brainchild of Ileen Maisel, a former New Line Cinema producer who set up Amber Entertainment with Elman and two other producers a year ago. Her idea is to take well-known authors and turn their bestselling novels into what they describe as "video books".

"The film industry needs to recognise that the paradigm has changed," says Maisel, an American-born producer who is a refreshingly no-nonsense presence on the set. "Our responsibility is to provide different kinds of content to the consumer. The old prejudice of straight-to-DVD just being a B kind of movie should be thrown out. A DVD premiere is a new, exciting way for customers and audiences to see different kinds of product."

Friday, August 06, 2010

What Guild members are getting up to

STEVE BUTCHARD is writing a 90-minute single drama called Taken for JIMMY McGOVERN's new indie, RSJ Films. The story centres on child migrants who travel to the UK, where they find themselves working illegally, with their lives tracked by a benevolent policeman. It will be broadcast on BBC1 next year.

PAUL COATES wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 13th August.

DAVID CROFT and JIMMY PERRY wrote the episode of Dad's Army "Sgt. Wilson's Little Secret" going out on BBC2 at 8:30pm on Saturday 7th August.

SIMON CROWTHER wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 13th August.

MARY CUTLER wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 8th till Friday 13th August. Each episode is repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

TIM DYNEVOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 13th August.

MARK EVANS wrote the episode of Bleak Expectations "Chapter the Fifth: an Already Bad Life Made Worse but Sort of on Purpose" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 9th August.

JOHN FINNEMORE wrote the episode of Cabin Pressure "Ipswich" going out on Radio 4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 10th August.

PETER GIBBS wrote the episode of Heartbeat "Deadlier than the Male" going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Sunday 8th August.

SASHA HAILS wrote the episode of Casualty "Nice and Easy Does It" going out on BBC1 at 9:20pm on Saturday 7th August.

DAWN HARRISON'S new play All The Queen's Children is on at the Edinburgh Fringe next week from 7th to the 14th August. Venue: 21 C Aquila at 4:50pm. Performed by Reading Youth Theatre it is about unaccompanied minor refugees coming to the UK and ending up in a B&B.

JONATHAN HARVEY has created a new musical, Corrie!, to celebrate 50 golden years of Britain's longest-running and most- loved soap, Coronation Street. Corrie! will have it's premiere tomorrow, Saturday 7 th August and will run until 21st August at the Lowry Theatre in Salford.

MARTHA HILLIER wrote the episode of Holby City "Man with No Name" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 10th August.

NEIL JONES wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 10th and at 6:00pm on Wednesday 11th August.

DAVID LANE wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Monday 9th August.

JAN McVERRY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 12th August.

CAROLINE MITCHELL wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 10th August.

TOM NEEDHAM wrote the episode of The Bill "Death Knock" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Tuesday 10th August.

HOWARD OVERMAN wrote the episode of Misfits going out on C4 at 10:00pm on Saturday 7th August.

PAUL ROUNDELL wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 12th August.

RICHARD STONEMAN'S dramatisation of Rumpole is going out in two parts on Radio 4. The first part, Rumpole and the Family Pride", goes out at 2:15pm on Monday 9th August. The second part, "Rumpole and the Eternal Triangle", goes out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 10th August.

Three new e-book platforms imminent

By Mike Shatzkin for The Idea Logical company
Three entirely new ebook platforms are now poised to make their debut. Each of them has an angle, or a USP, that the others don’t and that the vendors, devices, and platforms that preceded them — notably Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, and Sony — don’t. The three new platforms are Google Editions, Blio, and Copia.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Brian Clemens on writing for TV

In The Guardian, a report by Phelim O'Neill on a talk at the BFI by Guild member Brian Clemens.
Clemens told of the fun of writing, of becoming so fired up by an idea that his two fingers could barely keep up with his brain, such as the brilliant, 1970 thriller And Soon The Darkness (currently being remade), which he hammered out over two days and was filmed without a word changed.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Writing scene-by-scene outlines

On the BBC Writersroom blog, Guild member Joy Wilkinson explains how she wrote (and re-wrote) a scene-by-scene outline for Doctors.
Looking back at my first draft, it was clear that despite my best efforts, there was too much writing and not enough story. A scene-by-scene is all about events management. You have to have sufficient story beats for a packed episode, and the right ones in the right places, or else it's all just words on a page and no one needs to read more of them.

Suso Cecchi d'Amico 1914-2010

The Italian screenwriter Suso Cecchi d'Amico, who worked on scripts including Bicycle Thieves, Roman Holiday and Jesus of Nazareth, died last week at the age of 96.

There is an obituary in The Guardian by John Francis Lane.
In 1948 she was one of several scriptwriters who shared credits with De Sica and Cesare Zavattini on Bicycle Thieves, based on Luigi Bartolini's novel, which followed an impoverished man who searches for his stolen bicycle with his young son. Suso recalled: "Zavattini would have probably ended the film like the book, with the father and son returning home defeated. I suggested the idea of the father in desperation trying to steal a bike himself ... After being humiliated in front of the kid, a new bond is born between them."

Tom Mankiewicz 1942-2010

From BBC News:
American screenwriter and director Tom Mankiewicz, whose credits included several James Bond films, has died from cancer at the age of 68.

Mankiewicz wrote the scripts for Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun.

He also worked on the first two Superman films, and the TV series Hart to Hart.
His career details are on Wikipedia and there is an obituary in The L.A. Times.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Digital Agenda for Europe

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has written to European Commissioner Neelie Kroes to express its views on A Digital Agenda for Europe (pdf), issued by the European Commission in May 2010.

You can read the Guild's response here (pdf).

The final decade for full-time novelists?

On his blog, science fiction writer Robert J Sawyer returns from the Canadian Book Summit predicting that full-time novel writing has only about ten years left as a viable career.
At the conference, many people cited the band model now prevalent for successful acts in the music industry: give away your music and make money off of live performances and T-shirts. I debunked that at the event by pointing out that the venue we happened to be in — Harbourfront Centre in Toronto — is home to the the International Festival of Authors, the world’s best, most-prestigious literary festival, a festival which, if you’re lucky, you get invited to every four or five years, and that this top-of-the-line opportunity to perform in front of an audience pays around $300, and might, with real luck, sell 50 hardcovers, of which the author’s share of royalties might be another $150.
Link via @JaneFriedman

The parent trap: art after children

In The Guardian, writer Frank Cottrell Boyce asks whether 'the pram in the hallway' really is the enemy of good art.
Writing is a peculiar balancing act between freedom and discipline. Writers are free to spend their days doing whatever they like; but if they don't write, then they are not writers. They are on their own and so vulnerable to every distraction, whether that's drink or the Antiques Roadshow. Jonathan Franzen has said that "it is doubtful that anyone with an internet connection in his workplace is writing good fiction". Family is, of course, the most potent distraction, and probably the only distraction that makes you feel virtuous when you surrender to it.

There's a belief that to do great work you need tranquility and control, that the pram is cluttering up the hallway; life needs to be neat and tidy. This isn't the case. Tranquility and control provide the best conditions for completing the work you imagined. But surely the real trick is to produce the work that you never imagined. The great creative moments in our history are almost all stories of distraction and daydreaming – Archimedes in the bath, Einstein dreaming of riding a sunbeam – of alert minds open to the grace of chaos.