Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Two to be precise. I've just realised that the preceding post was my 300th, I know, it seems a lot more to you who have to wade through them, but it is also 10 years this month when I began writing for a living.

Been rich, been poor. Rich is better. But I wouldn't change a second. Well okay there are about 25 vital minutes spread out over 10 years when an ounce of shut up would have made a pound of gold, but hey ho.

So at the risk of being more pompous than usual here's my take on the state of play right now.

We're fucked.

At the BBC all I can see are the 'Tranterites' And by necessity that means the Indies pitching to the BBC. 'Will Jane like it' seems to be the catchphrase. Well I've got to say that the Tranterite taste doesn't really bear up to scrutiny. A glance at the schedules as you try to find something worth watching tells you that.

At ITV I see will and effort but no direction as they desperately throw shit against the wall hoping some of it will stick.

5, well I'm not sure they even do original drama.

Channel 4 - Used to be THE place for worthwhile drama. Now they seem to be capitulating to the yoof syndrome a bit too much.

Multi- channel - Sky make some attempts at original drama but it still is primarily the place to watch big budget high concept US shows bought in for a fraction of the production costs.

I could write an essay here as to why this has happened and my suggestions for fixing it , but 10 years of TV writing have sapped that particular skill. Instead I'll try to nutshell it, and there's nothing wrong with that by the way! So here it is. The answer to everything.



Matt Cruse said...

Agreed. I've recently decided to go back to my original Plan A and write/direct a low budget feature film. I never liked the "pitch to a single person" mentality of television. And I've always refused to buy into the theory that one can only do such a thing after first "cutting one's teeth" on daytime and mid-evening soaps because "it makes better writers". Bullshit. There are plenty of people out there who can write. I'd much rather spend five years cobbling together a 90 minute screenplay and busting my guts getting it made for no money rather than going through the bureaucratic process of writing somebody else's characters and storyline. :o)

Oli said...

Perhaps I am being naive, but doesn't Jane Tranter have quite good taste? I know writing to please one person is never a good idea unless that person's you, but she does seem to know what she's doing...

Jaded and Cynical said...

Happy, er, anniversery.

Like most civilians I'm indifferent to the politics/personalities of the business.

All I know is that neither the Beeb nor ITV have produced a single drama in the past year that I'd go out of my way to watch.

And there's been some absolute shite produced - stuff that belongs in Good Dog's 'volcanic jism' category.

How and why we've ended up in this mess is a puzzle. But as the endless rigged competitions and phone scams show, the problems are systematic and industry-wide.

Is it any wonder people are spending more time online?

English Dave said...

Matt - sounds like a good plan. Good luck with that.

Oli - it's all subjective I guess.

jaded - my spell checker took a vacation lol

I'd suggest that the major reason for the mess is the BBC forgetting that inform, entertain and educate were written into the charter. Chase ratings with increasingly dumbed down drama wasn't. They are not quite at the Rock Rivals stage but they are depressingly close on too many occassions.

Anonymous said...



Oli, these posts are really instructive on the current state of play

English Dave said...

very interesting links anon.Cheers. I'm not sure if it constitutes a groundswell of opinion but it does this old ticker good.

Particularly interested to read the obvious 'insiders' views, which given the Borgiastic nature of the BBC is a brave thing to do.

Gareth McLean also continues to beard the lion. Excellent.

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