Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I have been in London doing script readthroughs for The Delivery Man. A script 'readthrough' is where you read 'through' a script, where would you be without this blog and its industry insights eh, NOWHERE FAST that's where.

Junior actors, or 'actlets' get very excited about readthroughs, because they think it is an opportunity to try out different voices, and add or take away bits of dialogue depending on how clever they are feeling that morning, but they are WRONG, a script readthrough is mostly to see if the script is as long as the telly slot it is supposed to be fitting into. Ideally just a little bit longer, so if anything goes wrong you have stuff to cut, rather than being too short so that you have to add stage directions like 'everyone stares into space for 1min 32 seconds' like Pinter did WE'RE ON TO YOU PINTER.

If it's too long, that's not good, unless it's exactly twice as long, in which case you cut it in two and phone the broadcaster and say 'hey, good news, we have an extra episode!', which is more or less what happened with episodes eight and nine of Green Wing series one. #true

In case you don't believe I was in a 'room' with 'actors', here is a photo of me with 'actor' Alex MacQueen, who played Julius in The Thick Of It and is thus a hero to @Patroclus, who insisted I had my picture taken with him.

It turns out this is a great way to divide and conquer actors and thus let them know who's boss, by casually announcing 'my wife has insisted I take a 'selfie' with one of you BUT ONLY ONE WHO COULD IT BE'. Cue actors flicking their eyes from side to side with increasing nervousness over potential loss of status as I walk slowly around the room saying things like 'lalalala it could be you- BUT IT'S NOT, maybe it's this actor NO IT ISN'T, here we go it's Alex'.

It has been pointed out that Alex looks almost more excited to meet me than I was to meet him, which only emphasises how good an actor he is, and all the other ones could learn from him and his positive attitude.

Anyway, we start the readthrough, then realise no-one is available to time it.

ME: Where is Chris, the First Assistant Director? For usually it is he who times these readthroughs.
SOMEONE ELSE: Chris is in LA filming the new series of Episodes.

So I volunteered to time the readthrough, which disappointed everyone in the room because they were secretly hoping I would read some lines, at which I am very good. They didn't say anything, but I knew that's what they were thinking. However, now I had to not read lines and turn my phone back on, because I had turned it off so it didn't ring during the readthrough, which was very professional of me, I think.

Long silence.

DIRECTOR: Can we start now?
ME: My phone is still starting up.

Long silence. Eventually my phone makes a small beeping noise and something swims to the surface of the picture bit, 'screen', that's the word I was looking for.

ME: (helpfully) This phone is a Samsung Pocket Geo!

Everyone absorbs this information.

DIRECTOR: Now can we start?
ME: It's just sorting out its icons.

Further silence.

ME: Ooh, I've got Google+ on this, that's bound to come in handy at some point.

Bit more silence.

ME: Nearly there.
ACTOR: We could use my phone if it's-

Phone beeps.

ME: (calmly, with air of authority) You may all proceed.

I can now announce the following scoop, which will surely be in all the major media outlets seconds after I press 'Publish', that Episode 4 currently runs at thirty minutes twenty eight seconds, which is a bit long for an ITV half hour, which is twenty two minutes twenty seconds.

So basically we're going to have to sack someone. Not Alex though.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Delivery Man

I haven't done this blog for ages! Poor thing, I have neglected you.

Anyways, I'm surfacing, because to everyone's surprise, including my own, I seem to be co-writing a sitcom that is actually going into production. IN PRODUCTION! It is this one: The Delivery Man, and filming starts in November, to be shown on ITV sometime in Spring next year. It stars, amongst others, Darren Boyd, who I've written for in Smack The Pony and Green Wing but never actually met, so that'll be fun.

There is an actual production office and everything. Look, here is a prop!

Next week there is a full table read of the first three scripts. Which means I am going to be in a room with other people. SCARY.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Penryn Arts Festival: Screenwriters/Writers Q&A

This is quite specific to Falmouth/Penryn, but as part of the Penryn Arts Festival, I'm doing a Q&A next Friday with Emma Frost and Emily Barr. Details below:

Jamaica Inn screenwriter to lead writers’ panel at Penryn Arts Festival PENRYN, 13th July 2014

Emma Frost, screenwriter of the Emmy-nominated BBC television drama The White Queen, as well as the recent BBC1 adaptation of Jamaica Inn, will be taking questions from drama fans and aspiring writers at a Q&A session at Penryn Town Hall on Friday evening.

The panel session is part of the Penryn Arts Festival, which takes place from this Friday 18th to Sunday 20th July at locations and venues around the town. Emma will be joined on the panel by fellow Falmouth and Penryn-based writers James Henry (screenwriter, Green Wing, Smack the Pony, Shaun the Sheep) and Emily Barr, author of thriller novel The Sleeper, set on the Cornwall-London sleeper train.

The Q&A is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring professional writers to ask any questions about the creative writing process; breaking into the industry; and balancing a professional writing career with living in Cornwall – as well as any questions about the three writers’ novels, dramas and comedies. The session is free to enter, but those wishing to attend are asked to reserve a place via the Eventbrite link

Monday, March 03, 2014

At Home With Writers

Half past seven. The children are in bed, and my wife @Patroclus and I have retired downstairs, where the gentle clicking of laptop keys is the only sound for half an hour or so. Finally:

ME: What are you doing?
@Patroclus: Thing about geoploitical implications for Finnish energy companies' IT systems.
ME: Ah.


@Patroclus: What are you doing?
ME: Outline for that CBeebies thing, about a caterpillar.
@Patroclus: Ah.




I storm upstairs. After a while:

@Patroclus: Can I have a bath after you?

Half an hour later:

ME: I'm finished in the bath now, and I think.... I think, I've cracked the caterpillar outline.
@Patroclus: That's good, I've nearly done the Finnish thing now.

'DUGGEE' begins this September, on CBeebies.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Spec scripts and things that quietly went away.

I was slightly startled early in the new year to have a meeting with a development exec who told me she'd looked up my website and read my sitcom script sample 'Romey Loves Jools'. Startled, because a) I sort of forgot I had a website, and b) I wrote 'Romey Loves Jools' at least ten years ago, so I have no idea if it's in any way representative of my current work. I'm still very fond of it, I just have no idea if that's my 'voice' any more. Also it's only the first twelve pages, I should really put the whole thing up there. Or delete it entirely.

But it did make me think I should maybe put up something more current.The problem is of course you can't put anything too new up, because it might still be up for grabs, and execs hate being more than the third or fourth person to read a script, which is fair enough.

So I've put up one spec* sitcom script, which is dear to my heart, as it's about LARPing, but I'm going to have to accept that the look most comedy producers give me when I get all excited about a show in which 'people with social problems dress up as wizards and elves and fight each other in the woods with rubber swords' is probably not a positive one, and release it into the wild. It's called 'FELLOWSHIP OF THE WRONG'

The other script was developed with the lovely lovely people at Carnival Films, who after hitting gold with 'Downton Abbey' thought they could develop my idea about a failed superhero who ends up working in a gated community filled with (he discovers) reformed, or at least 'pretending to be reformed' supervillains, into something NBC might like.

Unfortunately, the relevant people at NBC kept wandering off, or dying, or regenerating into newer, less-interested people, and in the end we pulled the plug. But I'm still very fond of it, and it's up now and called 'HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO'

* A spec, or 'speculative' script being a non-commissioned or unsolicited screenplay. Upside: you can write about absolutely anything you want. Downside: it is entirely unpaid writing work, although you write in hopes someone will be interested enough to pay you something at some point, or (more likely, although still not *that* likely), it will interest some producer or development exec enough to lead to paid work elsewhere.

Bridge & Tunnel: How Opal Slew The Dark Lord

Friday, January 17, 2014

How Opal Slew The Dark Lord: Part Three

Here are the final three pages of the first Bridge and Tunnel comic, scripted by myself, illustrated by Sarah Gordon. Should be some news on where this is going to go next early in Feburary, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and for lovely comments on here and on Twitter.

How Opal Slew The Dark Lord: Part Two

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Opal Slew The Dark Lord: Part One

So here's a nice thing: some time ago, @MikeGarley was pointed in my general direction, with the suggestion that I might like to be involved in his new VS Comics set up. I pitched him an idea that I'd been thinking about for ages, and he put me together with illustrator Sarah Gordon, and we came up with the first issue of Bridge and Tunnel', a six page comic (seven if you count the cover) called 'How Opal Slew The Dark Lord'.

The plan was to do three issues in total, but sadly, after the first one, it quickly become clear that financially, neither Sarah or I could make the commitment to keep it going when we also had to do other jobs that would put food on the table, and with great reluctance, we thought we were going to have to had to let it go (although I did go on to write a story for Dead Roots), which was great because: zombies).

Which meant 'Bridge and Tunnel' was kind of stillborn, because VS Comics couldn't really put out the first of three stories and then say well, sorry, that's your lot. So Sarah and I made something we were both quite proud of, and now we didn't know what to do with it.

Except now there are other ways to do these things, which mean Bridge and Tunnel is going to be continuing in a new, funded, direction, which I can hopefully talk about more next month. Which means, hurrah, we can put the first one out. The images are quite big, so I'm going to split it into three posts of a couple of pages each (I don't want to lose any of Sarah's lovely detail).

So here are the first two pages. LOOK AT THE LOVELY COLOURS.