Monday, October 22, 2007


Two bits I couldn't resist sharing. No names no packdrill.

A mate of a mate has a series just commissioned by the BBC. Jane Tranter's ''alleged''comment. ''It's okay but it's not a Spooks.''

An ITV exec's complaint about the 8 million viewers of Doc Martin? ''It's the wrong 8 million''

Both of those ''alleged'' comments shed a lot of light on the mentality of network execs. The first shows how prodcos can jump to entirely the wrong conclusions when a network exec utters an ill thought out or unclear statement. Guess how many are now telling each other that the BBC are looking for a Spooks knockoff? I don't think the BBC are. I think they are looking for something that attracts the buzz of Spooks. An entirely different proposition. But what a crap thing to say? Especially as it got back to the writer. Nice team building exercise.

The second comment to me, shows a lack of understanding of the dynamics of building an audience. Yes the current average age of the Doc Martin viewer is probably bus pass or over, but, any show which gets those numbers has to have something going for it. And eventually those numbers attain their own momentum, word spreads round and younger people start watching it.

But it is a bizarre business. Today I heard of someone who I came across on a show a couple of years ago in a fairly junior capacity. I was less than inspired by either the dramatical knowledge on display or the drive and enthusiasm. That person is now employed by a Government funded agency and seems to have magically acquired the title of Executive Producer in charge of a multi million pound budget.

One thing you have to get used to in this business is the near miraculous ability of many to fail upwards. I can only think it is because actual talent isn't a prerequisite for a lot of these positions.

Off-hand I can think of at least 3 or 4 highly placed individuals at both networks and prodcos who I and a good number of other writers wouldn't dream of sending work to. They don't know who they are, but we do! They are some of the dogmatic ''I'm right and you're wrong'' brigade. The ones who believe, with little justification, that they know better than the writer. Believe me, when you meet an exec who does know better than the writer, and there are some, you will know it. And you'd better listen to them or you'll be pissing blood for a week after the encounter.

The thing to remember is that these people have their own issues and agendas to deal with. Very few of which are to do with your script. Climbing the greasy pole without the aid of any discernable talent is having thought about it, actually a talent in itself. I remember Paul Abbott in an acceptance speech for one of his numerous awards saying there were some in the industry that having worked with them he won't touch with a barge pole in the future.

Probably talking about much the same people here. At least in attitude.


Anonymous said...

I think some execs actively hire people that are a bit lame in order not to feel threatened or intimidated by the lower ranks. It's not about encouraging talent, it's about securing their position.

English Dave said...

That happens for sure anon.