Last week I went to the BBC Writersroom TV Drama Writers’ Festival in Leeds. My main aim was to galvanise my interest in screen-writing again because, like most creative endeavours, it often feels like an uphill struggle – or whistling in the wind. I was extremely, I mean EXTREMELY, lucky to see my first TV pitch, Blue Murder, get greenlit and become a successful returning series. That is the stuff of fairytales but since then, I’ve had much more experience of not getting projects off the ground. Of having meetings with commissioners and producers where I pitch my ideas and see them crushed (in the nicest possible way) one by one. The responses usually go along the lines of ‘we’ve got one of them in development, we don’t want any cop shows, we don’t do private eyes, we’re hanging fire on legal dramas, we’ve got one of them, and one of them, and (insert name of uber-writer) is doing a show looking at that world with us.’
What was refreshing about the conference was understanding that this is how it is, 99% of the time for all writers, even the ones who seem to be at the top of the game. And that scripts can get written and paid for and everything be going swimmingly until the plug or rug is pulled. A panel with Danny Brocklehurst and Toby Whithouse and Mark Catley looked at ‘The One That Got Away’ – and there was more than one – they were myriad! And then there are the fairytales. Wonderful to hear Chris Chibnall talk to Ben Stephenson about Broadchurch, Sally Wainwright and Nicola Schindler discuss the development of Last Tango with Peter Bowker and Dominic Mitchell and the team at BBC North describe the creation of In The Flesh. All shows I love. Good too to meet writers from theatre and radio and swap stories of where we’ve been and where we’re going – or would like to go.
So, when I can possibly carve out some time from my novel writing I will work on some new ideas to pitch for television. I will! Just don’t hold your breath…
PS The BBC Writersroom is a very useful website – do have a look if you’re not familiar with it. http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/