Posts Tagged ‘BBC radio’

It Lives!

It lives!

It lives!

No, honestly it does.  Three, two, one … I’m back in the room (NB outdated reference – could have got away with it a year ago, in fact I could still get away with it were I writing “topical satire”, but this is the sort of thing that should really be cut out before the rewrite).

Anyway, a year has almost passed since my last entry (in fact, there were more but I decided they needed deleting – I promise it won’t happen again) and I suddenly feel the need to get back to this thing.  The “blackmailing myself into writing” idea was a good one and I shouldn’t have abandoned it so early.

Back on 7 January 2008 I had two definite (ie paid-for) projects – a promo for an intertube TV channel and some sketches for a kids TV show.  I was also laying down plans for (a) a children’s fantasy novel, (b) a play, (c) a sitcom and (d) an internet drama.  So, what has happened in the intervening period?

Well, the intertube TV channel has died on its arse.  If you want an idea of why, just look back over some of my other entries from Jan ’08.  It was a good idea and had some great people involved but sadly the money man behind it all was a … now there’s a funny thing (good old Max Miller).

And the kids’  TV show?  All done and dusted.  Wrote some good sketches, got a nice little commission, looking forward to seeing the end result in the new year – especially as the final tranche of my fee will come in on broadcast.

As to the other projects.  The novel is still circling somewhere in a holding pattern, the sitcom has been written and (after a major strop on my part about who should get to write it) has been with a producer since the end of October, there is even half a chance that it may actually have been read. The play has been written.  Looking back at it, I reckon it’s got some potential but needs work.  I’ve got an actor interested and we’ll be meeting up soon to talk about re-writes.

And the internet drama?  Well, that’s an interesting one.  I knocked up the treatment early in the year, my agent sent it out and I got a couple of nibbles.  One in particular was really exciting, an offer not to produce my show but to get me in as head writer on a brand new internet drama (they actually called my writing “brilliant” … in an email, so it’s written down and I can wave it in front of people!).  Unfortunately, as so often in the comedy world, time drags by slowly and projects wither and die.  I’ve gone from being asked to clear the whole of my availability for the autumn to waiting around in the winter wondering if anything at all is going to come of the idea.  Ho hum.  We shall see.

The rest of the year has been spent watching this and assorted other projects rise and fall, cut down in the no-man’s-land that is the TV/radio commissioning process.  Watching my brave ideas fall in wave after wave has been pretty gutting.  At various times in the year I’ve been on the verge of (a) being the man behind an exciting, new, Saturday-night family drama based on King Arthur (and then Merlin finally got its green light), (b) co-creating an exciting, new reality-TV comedy (and then Peter Kay came up with his X-Factor thing) and (c) chucking myself off the nearest available tall building.

So, what have I got to be getting on with in the new year? Well, here goes …

  1. a possible 15-minute satirical series for Radio 4.  This is currently with the powers-that-be (in fact it has been since mid-October).  Apparently it’s “witty, clever and absolutely perfect”, whether this means it’ll happen is anyone’s guess.
  2. a possible 15-minute sketch show for Radio 4.  Exciting one this, there are three of us behind the idea and Radio Entertainment like the idea enough to have paid for a pilot.  Fingers crossed.
  3. short stories.  I think it’s time for me to try to get some of these ideas published.  If you know of any good outlets, do drop me a line.
  4. the film.  I’ve got a great idea for a film (inspired indirectly by a brilliant idea I had in a dream, the first time I’ve had a complete story just pop into my head, which turned out to be the plot of Roald Dahl’s The BFG).  I suspect I’ll be talking about this more in the future.  A lot more.
  5. adaptations.  I’ve got a few ideas here.  One definite pitch to R4 as a classic serial based on a novel by a favourite Czech author of mine.  Plus a couple of books to read up to see if they might fit the bill.  And how long has it been since anyone tried to do anything with Tarzan?
  6. the back catalogue.  Lots of projects get started and then sort of … … … tail off.  It’s time for me to have a look and see if any of them are worth reviving.  In fact there’s one idea, involving a barrister who ends up working for Death, that I really think might be worth doing something with.

There, that should be enough to be going on with, I reckon.


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And so I press on, in spite of the fact that my new glasses have left the world looking like it was put together by the set designer on Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. Today’s slowish progress can instead be put down to my continuing cold, which is failing utterly to do the decent thing and go away and has instead decided to take up residence in my throat, where it is busy doing a bit of open-cast mining for phlegm.

My lack of progress can also be put down to my having had to visit the BBC.  Going to the BBC is only very rarely a happy experience for a freelance writer.  This is especially true when one is working for Radio Entertainment (it used to be “Light Entertainment” but the “Light” bit got dropped, possibly due to so much of the output being heavy-handed and plodding: just try tuning in any weekday between 11.30 and 12, where you will usually discover a mirthless serial featuring a group of middle-aged, middle-class men/women who have nothing better to do with their lives than spend all day, every day bumping into members of their own families and wittering on about the uselessness of their respective partners and/or each other … unbelievably Simon Brett has been knocking out this exact programme for over 20 years under various different titles without being divorced by the nation on the ground of “mental cruelty”).  Radio Entertainment is based in a grim, concrete-and-glass building that will forever be a little corner of rainy, Soviet-era Tbilisi in London’s Langham Place.  It is usually filled with anxious-looking men and women whose life trying to make programmes on miniscule budgets under incompetent leadership is only relieved by their tendency to believe that the hours between 12.00 and 3.00 each day should be spent lounging around on the moth-eaten blue sofas at one end of the building moaning to each other about the anxiety of making programmes on miniscule budgets under incompetent leadership, rather than, say, actually making those programmes. That said, today’s meeting was really very positive, so there’s half a chance I might get to write a programme this year … although what that programme might possibly be is, as yet, anybody’s guess.

In any event, I have at least managed to tick the boxes on my New Year’s resolution list: a bit of work on the novel here, some research completed there and a few work-related emails pinged off to boot.  I even managed a bit of unexpected inspiration, when one of last night’s dreams turned out to be pretty promising … even several hours later after I’d woken fully and managed to jot the thing down properly.  What I’m trying to work out now is, if I’m doing the business of coming up with ideas while I’m asleep, does that entitle me to clock off early when I’m awake?

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