Heh. Well, I didn't take my concept round to as many people as Charlie did his, so it didn't have the opportunity to get shat on to the extent the man in black with the word 'IDEA' (they should have added a 'D' at the end, I reckon) did.
My teen drama certainly got chopped and changed around before making it to the very last stage of commissioning (and being turned down), but I never felt I was making any great compromise with quality - just the way the format worked (changing the plot from being a ongoing thriller to a more story of the week basis, boosting the central cast of characters so instead of just following four locals, there were now four locals and four posh kids). I didn't mind any of these changes, because all I really had in my head going in was an idea of tone, and a way of referencing the very typical American genre of teen shows in a way that was emotionally more realistic, and certainly more representative of my own upbringing, than you were tending to get in UK shows at the time.
Had it been commissioned, yes, I may well have been asked to find a part for Lily Allen. Seriously, that was my number one concern were it to be commissioned, bearing in mind it was BBC3 doing the commisioning. But it wasn't, and I still have the perfect, unblemished series in my head, and a couple of scripts that went down very well inside BBC Drama, and are currently getting me plenty of work. And if you're finding your work being horribly taken away from you, and Lily Allen added, you can either a) tell them to feck orf and wash your hands of the project, or b) take the money but get your agent to have your name taken off the project. It happens all the time.
I don't know why I'm having a go at Lilly Allen, by the way, I really liked that 'The Fear' song, and the fact she was quite rude about her own chat show. Nuff respect Lils.
Lots of nice comments from people asking what I'm going to do with it next. Make it into a graphic novel? Or, as Dan suggested:
'.,. perhaps try Sky? They're having a push for original drama right now, and a lot of it has been genre stuff (Terry Pratchett's, Skellig). It may be out of their price-range, though, as you say. Could it be adjusted into a two-hour one-off for Christmas?'
Those two-part dramas are both adaptations of existing literary works, which seem to be what Sky is after these days. My agent put me up for a similar adaptation recently, but Sky turned me down because I wasn't A-list enough. And by 'enough', they meant 'at all'. Which is fair enough.
So, what's happening with INCARNATE now? Well, nothing really. Carnival own the rights to the treatment, so if another broadcaster becomes interested in the possibility of a superhero series (possible) and has the available budget (unlikely), then I'm sure Carnival will slide it under their noses. I don't think it's terribly likely, to be honest, and you might be surprised to find I don't mind that much.
Because this happens all the time. This is what a large part of my job is: coming up with a stream of outlines and treatments for television shows that are (if I'm honest) unlikely ever to be made. Currently I'm working on four treatments. The first is for Hotel Babylon series five, so not my show, but the episode should see the light of day unless something goes terribly wrong. The second is for a prospective sitcom, which is pretty unlikely to get made, but it's an idea that I'm excited about, so for the first time in a few years I'm prepared to dip a toe into the (DELETED) choppy (changed on the advice of attorney Patroclus) waters that is the current UK television comedy world. The third is for a six-part literary adaptation for BBC4 (prestige!) which I'm very excited about, and has a reasonable chance of a series commission. And the fourth is an original (as in I would own the format rights) cop show for BBC1. So this is possibly the most likely-to-be-productive bunch of treatments I've ever worked on, and there are still no guarantees.
The other reason I don't mind that much is because I learned a while ago not to take it too personally, because otherwise you could go completely mad. And way more successful writers than me get their ideas turned down all the time.
To illustrate this, a couple of years ago, I had the idea of adapting a sort-of-obscure, but very well-regarded Edwardian comic novel as a television drama series. The novel is sort of odd and surreal, which suits me, and has a surprising number of references to contemporary issues such as domestic terrorism, undercover police work and religion.
I finally got a meeting with a pretty big UK television production company, who had a good track record with comedy, but were looking to branch out into drama, so I thought this idea would be right up their street. As it was, it just wasn't for them. But the producer obviously saw the downcast look on my face and knew exactly what to say to cheer me up.
PRODUCER: If it makes you feel any better, Stephen Fry came in with this exact idea two weeks ago, and we turned him down too.
YES! IN YOUR FACE, FRY!