Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jekyll (spoilers)

Steven Moffat’s Jekyll succeeded in modernising a classic tale not by turning Jekyll into a yuppie and setting it in Canary Wharf, but by reinterpreting the source material and creating a sequel where none might have been thought possible.

To tell his story he had a generous six episodes which might have been too many if he hadn’t employed so many interesting techniques, such as lengthy flash back sequences, one even flashing all the way back to the nineteenth century. One of the best aspects of the series was it’s refusal to tell the story in a straightforward way.

James Nesbitt’s performances as Hyde and as Jackman were splendid. Tom Jackman was reserved, understated and dignified while the irrepressible Mr Hyde was over the top enough to make Jim Carrey look like a stick in the mud. Hyde could have become irritating had his exuberance been overused but the character’s unpredictability prevented the viewer becoming tired of him. At any moment Hyde could change moods and scare the pants off you.

Gina Bellman, as Claire Jackman, was sexy, strong-willed and had a good line in snappy dialogue. The final episode saw Claire on the edge of panic as her children were threatened and her past was revealed to her. This left Bellman with a lot of screaming and panicking to do and her performance seemed less impressive as a result. A shame when she had been such a strong player in the preceding episodes.

Of the rest of the main cast Denis Lawson exuded white-collar evil throughout the series. His performance was excellent and his comeuppance most satisfyingly played out. Michelle Ryan seemed to have little screen time across the series but was fine when she appeared. Meera Syall was excellent as the unconventional detective hired to track Mr Hyde. A brief appearance from Mark Gatiss as Robert Louis Stevenson was an unexpected pleasure, as was Nesbitt's turn as the original Jekyll and Hyde.

Patterson Joseph is always entertaining and was obviously having fun here. Linda Marlowe was at times unbearable but her performance was integral to the twist ending which is a major achievement.

Previous dramatisations of the classic tale of Jekyll and Hyde have opted to make their lead man up as a hairy beastie to depict Hyde (or to get someone else to pay the alter ego, Martine Beswick perhaps?). In this latest version Nesbitt is only superficially altered; his eyes and his hairline are tinkered with. The rest is acting. Revolutionary stuff.

The mad as trousers conclusion to Jekyll has inspired some talk of a second series. As it stands the conclusion of the tale is a fitting end to an always riveting and unpredictable series. It might be better to leave it that way.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shoe the goose

Work has been a bit crazy since my week off hence no updates and very little writing. I have got two different ideas brewing for the Red Planet Competition - just need to develop both a little and see which is the best runner.

No more work done on 'Hitman', I'll probably read through it on Sunday and start a second draft next week.

The cause of the delay has been a combination of a lot of extra pressure at work due to sickness and also an interview for a new job on Monday. The interview went well. So well in fact that I start my new job on August 13th. I'm still with the same company but from now on when people ask me what I do I'll be able to say I work in IT. In the Midlands.


In 2000AD 'Mutants in Mega City One' is turning out to be the best Dredd story I've read in years. John Wagner is taking old stoney face into very new moral territory and the repercussions are likely to have huge consequences for him and his city. He's even had to get new boots and we all know what that means.

Defoe continues to be extraordinarily good. What seemed initially to be just a bit of fun zombie hacking is turning into an ingenious re-imagining of English seventeenth century history. This has the potential to run and run.


BBC2 start running the excellent Heroes next Wednesday. Do not miss it or you'll feel a right lemon. Crayon it into your diary. In the meantime you could pick up the latest issue of the Radio Times to find out what all the fuss is about.

Save the cheerleader, save the world.


Steven Moffat's Jekyll has been fantastic. The reinterpretation of the original story has been imaginative and surprising. James Nesbitt has delivered two excellent performances both as Tom Jackman and his malevolent alter ego while Gina Bellman, as his confused wife, is captivating. A fantastic effort all round. A full review will follow after the series has finished.

Likewise reviews for The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords and Blink are on the way.


Finally, I'm now available for poking on facebook, it's like MySpace but with class. In fact, I've probably got a greater online presence than a lot of successful writers. Somehow that doesn't seem like a good thing.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Merces Letifer

So we draw to the end of Writey Week 2, as I always intended to take Sunday off (at the moment we're planning a jaunt to Bristol Zoo and lunch with a friend). I've worked for a at least three or four hours every day this week and I'm thrilled to be able to say that I have something tangible to show for it.

On Monday I wrote a new scene breakdown for the script I've been planning to write and send to the BBC for about six months. On Tuesday I began writing the first draft. I have just, a few short moments ago, written Run End Credits at the end of page 52. Impressive considering that it took me about six months to write the first draft of Rik's Records, and probably another six to revise it until I was happy enough with (or sick enough of) it to send it to Writers Room.

This new script is a pilot for a potential series I'm calling 'Hitman'. It is the darkly comic tale of an unlikely killer. The pilot is titled 'Secret Origins'.

The deadline I set myself, to have posted it by September, looks likely to be beaten comfortably. I'll leave it for a week now while I work on other projects (Yes I'm looking at you 2000AD Future Shock script, Interzone short Story and Red Planet Productions Prize). In the mean time the harshest of my critics (and greatest of my supporters) will take a first look at the script and see what she thinks.

This is a happy, happy day for me and the end of a great week that has seen me do little but write and watch great telly. I've enjoyed the first episode of Jekyll, series one of Coupling, all of The Thick of It, a wee bit of Spooks, part one of The Singing Detective and the pilot episode of Steptoe and Son. No wonder I felt motivated.

I'll leave you, in the tradition of Russell T Davies' DWM Production Notes, with three words from the script; 'mincer', 'hamster' and 'Greyskull'.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Red Planet Screenwriting Competition

Tony Jordan's new company Red Planet Pictures are launching an annual competition to find new screenwriting talent. The judging panel consists of Mr Jordan himself as well as Julie Gardner, Mark Gatiss and Stephen Fry.

Is this a wind up?!

The closing date is September 1st so it looks like work on my sitcom may have to be sped up. I'm really motivated and excited by this. Tony Jordan, and Kudos, have been responsible for some of the best telly of the last five years - and Julie Gardner and Mark Gatiss were at least involved in the rest.

This is one deadline that I simply cannot allow to pass.

The winner gets a commission from Red Planet, representation and a five thousand pound prize. Plus finalists get a workshop day with Tony Jordan.

Actually it turns out Red Planet are even opening an office in Cardiff. According to the ICWales website.

The decision to open a base in the Welsh capital follows efforts by the BBC and the Assembly Government to encourage independent drama production companies to locate in Wales.
Red Planet hopes to work closely with BBC Wales on a raft of projects.
Red Planet founder Tony Jordan said, "Wales is a very exciting place to be right now for drama and I'm looking forward to working with [senior BBC executives] Menna Richards, Julie Gardner, Claire Hudson and Julie Scott in Cardiff.

"We have also received invaluable support in this venture from the Welsh Assembly Government via Creative Business Wales. This has been instrumental in influencing our decision to set up here."

Read the full article

This is the news... happy now?

It isn't often you wake to great news so it's worth marking the occasion when you do. More often than not the seven o'clock news is full of sadness and woe. Here's a run down of what's bloody marvellous and what's not...

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Alan Johnston has been released after almost four months in the hands of the 'Army of Islam'. After the recent video of him wearing an vest covered in explosives it had seemed less likely than ever that he might be returned safe and sound. Read the full story here. The very best of luck to Mr Johnston, his family and everyone involved in his release.

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At the Harry Potter premiere JK Rowling was asked what her plans for the future were and responded that she was looking forward to a holiday. BBC Radio 2 also reported her as having mentioned that she'd been invited to write an episode of Doctor Who and was looking forward to that.There doesn't seem to be any other mention of it on the inertweb at the moment so it's unclear if they've got the wrong end of the stick or if it's actually going to happen now.

I for one took it a little personally when she declined to write for the first series so I hope it is true.

Of course this week has also seen an end to speculation that Kylie Minogue might be guest starring in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Voyage of the Damned (brilliant title). It's not known what role she will play but it seems likely she will be the Doctor's one off companion. You know, like Donna as played by Catherine Tate in The Runaway Bride.

Oh, but wait a minute... in breaking news it seems that Catherine Tate is to return to Doctor Who for the duration of the fourth series as Donna Noble rejoins the Doctor on his adventures.

It's not April Fools is it..?

Okay then, the bright side is it's a different dynamic in the Tardis, Donna is a bit older than Martha and has a very different personality. The down side is that she wasn't great in The Runaway Bride, though she did settle in by the end of the episode. Catherine Tate is too big a name in her own right. Stunt casting is all very well for Christmas specials but thirteen episodes with a novelty companion? Finally and most significantly - we lost Martha for this?

As ever I'm sure the production team know what they're doing and I know they wouldn't cast her if they didn't believe she was suitable for the series. I'm sure it'll turn out fine. I just thought we'd get something different this time, a bloke, someone from the past, even the Doctor on his own for a bit. Instead of something different we get an old one - off. I didn't expect that.

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Writey Week 2 is going well. When they returned Rik's Records last year the BBC Writers Room asked me to send them my next script. I have finally started on a new project and it's only taken me ten months. They did tell me not to rush. It's much darker and less conventional than Riks, or at least that's the idea. I'll keep you posted on progress but at the moment I'd hope to be posting it by the end of September.