Monday, August 27, 2007

Rumblings In The Dumblings

So Tony Marchant is the latest writer to have a pop at the state of UK Drama, following on from Paul Abbot and Jimmy McGovern. In an interview with The Stage he accuses much of it of being ''badly written and unoriginal'', laying the blame at the feet of execs dictating content.

Oddly enough just after I read the interview I switched on the TV to watch the Athletics, closest I get to exercise, and saw a trailer for something on BBC1 Sunday night 9pm. It is called Coming Down The Mountain, and to my surprise and delight was trailed with 'By award winning writer Mark Haddon''

I don't personally know Mark Haddon. I'm sure he is a splendid chap. My delight though was more that the writer's name was used in the lead in to the trail. It's great to know that the BBC value writers so highly.

You want to know the truth?

From the trailer I gather that the subject matter of this show is a family, more specifically, two teenage brothers, one with Downs Syndrome.

The trailer was utterly uninspiring. That isn't the writer's fault necessarily, unless those truly were the best scenes in the show, in which case it is. I'll be completely honest. A teenage angst drama with disability isn't going to get me to alter my evening plans so I can tune in. Unless there might be a reason to.

Hang on a sec? Award winning writer? Okay, in that case it might not be the pile of cliched ridden melodramatic dross I'm used to. I might be interested enough to hang around to find out. See how it works?

It might be great entertainment. Deep, insightful and emotionally fulfilling. Because in writing it's not what you write about, it's how you write about it. Hence the writer being named. Award winning is a marketer's wet dream.

No offence to Mark, a Bafta winner, but though I love to see the writer's name trailed, I'd prefer it to be more as a matter of course rather than a sugar coating for 'this won't be as crap as it sounds, honestly' I hope it is really great. I think that given the lame. unoriginal low concept badly written fare that has been served up lately it is fighting an uphill battle for viewers. And that is a shame. Meh, who am I kidding. No way on God's Green Earth am I going to tune in. But that's just me, and that's very subjective. As per the last post I don't tune in to X Factor either. I am catholic in my distastes.

And I still don't blame the writers for the drivel. I'm with Tony Marchant. TV has become Exec led, and that is the problem. Here's a simple ploy. Take the Execs off salary and tell them we'll pay you if you give us a hit show. That puts writers and Execs on the same wavelength and payment structure.

Only that won't work either. Because you'd have no Execs applying for the job.


Anonymous said...

''Take the Execs off salary and tell them we'll pay you if you give us a hit show. That puts writers and Execs on the same wavelength and payment structure.

Only that won't work either. Because you'd have no Execs applying for the job.''

I officially love English Dave. In a hetrosexual way.

Anonymous said...

Taking execs off salary wouldn't work either because to ensure a hit and a salary they'd just go for the lowest common denominator. Before long we'd be televising executions. And more X-Factor clones. So, much the same thing.

wcdixon said...

Great post...sounds like so many of the same probs we have in Canada

Jason Arnopp said...

Hello sir. I've seen Coming Down The Mountain, having previewed it for heat magazine, and can offer the opinion that it's a fine, bold piece of work. Nice to see something so edgy on primetime TV, as well as something which made me yell "No!" at the box.

Haven't seen the trailer, though. Perhaps some of the more intensely dramatic moments, such as Nicholas Hoult's character tormenting his Down's Syndrome brother, might have seemed bang-out-of-order when taken out of context...

English Dave said...

Good to know Jason. On that recommend I may well put my jaded cynisism aside and take a look see.

Chip Smith said...

Nicholas Hoult was on BBC Breakfast this morning bigging up Coming Down the Mountain - from the clips I saw, I won't be tuning in (they effectively telegraphed the entire plot in about thirty seconds, and when that happens, I lose interest).

Going off on a slight tangent, the reason that the writer's name is getting such heavy rotation is because 'Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night Time' sold by the skipload, and good luck to Mark Haddon for that. That said, how long will it be before the BBC feel it necessary to tag their dramas, 'From the pen of Katie Price.' OK, so I'm joking, but might it get people tuning in? (shudder)

By the way, I loved your PO3 post. You make me laugh, and that's priceless.