For 20 years, I sat in offices and wrote movie scripts (mainly horror and sci fi) in my lunch hour and evenings. It wasn’t until after I’d watched my fifth commissioned feature film die in development hell that I belatedly realised the UK doesn’t have much of a film industry and I should try my hand at writing some telly instead.
20 years. My teachers at school always said I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the… whatever-it-is-a-bulb-goes-in.
The Red Planet Prize
So back in 2012, I wrote this 60-minute pilot script for a crime drama. I didn’t think anybody would read it. The script was inspired by the crime shows I grew up watching, shows like Prime Suspect and Cracker. I had no idea what I was doing, I’d never written a TV script before. But I did know what an opening scene was, that a mid-point came around halfway and that as long as it ended with good cliffhanger, the reader would surely want to know what happens next. At least I hoped they would.
Once the script was finished, I sent it to a few agents, but didn’t hear back. Then I saw someone on Twitter talking about the Red Planet Prize. So I entered the script and waited for the rejection email.
Well, I got through the first round. Next up was the long-list. I waited for the email. Maybe this time I’d make it to the second round. But the email never came.
So I’d already gone through the five stages of grief when, a month later, I received the surprise (and, I assumed, mistakenly sent) email telling me I was on the short list. I phoned them to check and it turned out the organisers had forgotten to contact me about the long list. I made the final eight.
Holby And Beyond
The script then got me onto the Holby City Writers Scheme and months later, on the morning of my birthday, I got a phone call from the BBC asking if I was available to write an episode of the show.
It’s been a busy few years since. In 2015 and 2016, I wrote on two series of VERA for ITV. I loved writing Vera. Around the same time, I worked on the second series of ITV’s World War 2 drama HOME FIRES. Then in early 2016, I signed up to adapt Lynda La Plante’s bestseller TENNISON into the six-part series PRIME SUSPECT 1973 for ITV and PBS Masterpiece. How nuts is that? Just two years before, I’d been fixing computers for a living, feeling foolish for still harbouring dreams of one day being a full-time writer.
Fast forward to today. I’m currently lead writer on an 8-part thriller, PONIES, which is shooting next year. I also wrote episode five of ITV’s medical drama GOOD KARMA HOSPITAL, broadcast on Easter Sunday 2020.
Earlier in 2020, I had my first green-lit project, THE CHELSEA DETECTIVE, a new crime drama from Expectation, Acorn and BBC Studios, which is shooting in 2021.
A box! I think a bulb goes in a box.