Friday, November 23, 2007

Verity Lambert, OBE (1935 - 2007)

It has not been my intention to write every night this week, there just seems to be a lot to talk about recently. Most of it has been good news but today brought a sad, sad development. This afternoon I was dismayed to read on Outpost Gallifrey that Verity Lambert had passed away.

There were a lot of amazing things about An Unearthly Child, the first ever episode of Doctor Who. Beyond the genius of Sydney Newman's initial concept there's the fact that it was produced by a twenty-eight year old woman; the BBC's youngest producer and the only female one (pictured with Carole Ann Ford courtesy of Steve Hill). Of course it also had an Asian director, Warris Hussein, so it was a remarkably progressive show before you even consider the TARDIS or the Daleks that were to follow.

Despite going on to a career that spanned forty-four years and saw Verity involved in many successful shows she was always happy to talk about her first offspring. It was a beautiful touch when the team behind the current series of Doctor Who name checked Verity and Sydney Newman as the fictitious parents of the Doctor's alter ego John Smith.

It's simultaneously terribly sad and yet somehow fitting that this sad news should fall on the forty fourth anniversary of the broadcast of that first episode of Doctor Who, extraordinary in so many ways.

Thank you Verity, and God bless.

BBC News article

Official Doctor Who site

The Guardian


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Survivors survive

Incredible news. Survivors is to be remade according to this report on the BBC web site. The fingers typing the scripts belong to Adrian Hodges of Primeval fame.

Survivors was an excellent series which told the story of the people who lived through a plague that wiped out 99% of the worlds population. It's probably Terry Nation's third most famous creation after the mighty Blakes' 7 and some mutant dodgem thingies from another obscure BBC science-fiction programme.

I can't quite work out if this makes my secret ambition to dramatise John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes for television more or less likely. TV's only big enough for so many apocalypses. What is certain is that another high profile genre drama is headed for our screens. Incredible news indeed.

For more information about the original series check out these links;

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

International Screenwriters Festival 2008

Tuesday 1st to Thursday 3rd July 2008, Manor by the Lake, Cheltenham.

SWF'08 will be shorter than previous years at only three days. Feedback from delegates suggested that more people could participate if the length of the festival was three days which would also save them money on hotels. The festival is going to have a different feel to it this year with more of a relaxed atmosphere. Plenty of sessions are planned but with even more time set aside for the all important networking. We are planning to have at least two networking events per day giving the delegates much more time to mingle and create the opportunities to sell themselves. A lot of delegates, who went to SWF'06, were a bit perplexed by the term "networking", but for the majority that returned in SWF'07, and there were a lot, they came packing to take full advantage of the festival and promoted themselves and their work. Our aim this year is to give delegates increased chances to introduce themselves to the kind of people they really should meet and for intimate discussions.

As we are now a three day event, we felt that we should only have one ticket type, the three day pass, which will become available to buy around February 2008. The prices of which will be published at the beginning of next year.

And here I only mentioned it the other day. Tickets on sale in February and a whole eight months to prepare a portfolio of work to cart about with you while you quaff wine and schmooze with the boldest and best of the industry players.

And there's a session on writing for comics, not to mention the launch of Red Planet 2008 (presumably)! Awesome.

I'm so motivated by that one little email.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This is mostly a good week...

Feeling pretty good this week. Work is still busy but it feels less like hammering carrots into my eye sockets with a swede... not sure about the vegetable motif there.

Anyway, more importantly I'm feeling pretty creative. I'm taking a positive step forward with the Writers Room project and I've come up with a couple of new ideas since I stopped trying to develop competition entries.


Watched Chris Smith's 'Creep' at the weekend. I love the British Horror film as a concept and an ideal as much as a genre so it was a pleasure to find it a quality hour and a half of entertainment. What's not to love about a film about people trapped in the London Underground?!

Moreover it inspired me to have another go at a horror script. Years ago, when the world was young I had a pipe dream about making a horror film set in a huge park (modelled on Bute Park in my native Cardiff). This barman walking his dog would stumble across a bunch of latter day druids invoking some cyclopian horror from beyond the dawn of time. It would have been great.
I even bought 'The Guerrilla Filmakers Handbook'. Sadly I couldn't find anyone to help me make 'Hours of Darkness' (as I was going to call it) a reality. I think this time I'll just worry about the script, it's too much like hard work doing all that financing, directing, acting and so on.

I have therefore challenged myself to come up with a script that would sit nicely on a shelf with Dog Soldiers, Severance, Creep, The Descent, 28 Days Later and all the other great British Horrors of recent years. No pressure then.


I don't really go in for techie talk but I've recently started using Opera. It's bloody marvellous. Much more reliable than Microsoft Explorer and full of cool intuitive little features. One draw back is that I can't post on this blog with Opera, for some reason it throws all the formatting out. If it weren't for that it'd be perfect.

Go get some, it's free!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Red Planet, Emily Bell and Daleks

Thanks to the courtesy of Mr Stack we all know whether or not we made it through to round two of the Red Planet Productions competition now. I didn't. If you did then bloody well done to you. If you didn't there are some tips for dealing with the rejection here and here - but basically get on with it!

For my part I'm going to take a break from competitions until Red Planet 2008. I think they've distracted me from building up a portfolio rather than helped. In fact 2007 has been a mixed bag for me as far as writing goes. I've undoubtedly worked harder on it but seem to have little to show for my efforts - hence the decision to concentrate on those projects that have been 'pending' for way too long now.

The last twelve months have seen Emma and I take actions that are all designed to improve our situation. Some have worked, some haven't and some we won't see the benefit of for another year at least. My change in career has brought unexpected complications but has certainly given me more opportunity to concentrate on writing. It's essential now that I devise and adhere to a routine that sees me write daily and follow projects through to completion.

Chief among these is the script I'm preparing for Writers Room (you may remember they invited me to send my next script when they returned Riks Records). I completed the draft some months ago but finally read it through again last night. In my mind I'd convinced myself it was rubbish (as we tend to) but found I still like it very much. It needs a lot of work but I'm confident I have a good script in the making. I think, after a few drafts, I'll offer it up for some 'Power of Three' action as I've never tried that and it seems to work for other Scribobloggers.

So it's write-write-write until next years Cheltenham Screenwriter's Festival.


Most British writers must have been following developments concerning the WGA strike and it's effects. Most but not all. Notably not Emily Bell, the director of digital content for Guardian News and Media, who saw fit to author an article for Broadcast magazine called Striking writers are wrong to think they should be paid more.

For a breakdown of exactly what is wrong with Bell's piece take a look at James Moran's letter to her. I've followed his example and sent a brief note to the editor expressing my feeling of disappointment that Broadcast Magazine has not only felt justified in printing an article so poorly researched but one that seems to spit in the eye of our American peers.


I'm currently enjoying the Doctor Who Series Three Box Set and have just watched Evolution of the Daleks for only the second time. I watched both episodes together which I think improved the experience markedly. I was quite forthright in my dissatisfaction with this story when it was broadcast (see here) and while I'm not about to recant I do think I took it a little personally.

Looking back on what is, to my mind, the best series of Doctor Who ever I feel the Dalek story to be a minor blip. It's greatest fault is perhaps that it is too imaginative - who could complain about that?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's all meme me around here...

Gold star day! I've been memed, I've arrived, I'm a proper blogginator. Thanks Jon!

Right then, crikey, better get on with finding 'five things about myself that other people may consider lame, but I'm actually proud of’...

1 - I don't do 'going out' very much. I certainly don't do 'clubbing', not my thing at all. I love a good pub lunch, or a couple of pints by a crackling fire, but it's fair to say I'm almost a hermit in terms of nightlife and I wouldn't have it any other way. Chronic misanthropy will do that to you. So stop asking me if I did anything at the weekend because I didn't, and I bloody enjoyed it.

2 - I don't pull sickies. In fact I think I've had three absences in about five years. I guess I probably should sometimes but I always think if I took one unnecessary day off... I might never come back. On the other hand I'm planning to take a 'career break' (to concentrate on writing) in a year or so. Maybe I've just saved all my sickies up for one big hit.

3 - I've never seen 'Dirty Dancing', 'American Pie' or a single episode of 'Hollyoaks'. I haven't read 'The Da Vinci Code' and I've never bought a Red Hot Chili Peppers record.

4 - I can't resist disco music. It just makes me move. There's really nothing I can do to stop myself and even if there was I enjoy it too much. Particularly seductive tracks are Baccara - 'Yes Sir, I Can Boogie' and Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip's 'I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper'. Big band swing has a similar effect on me (on the other hand I have a terror of swingers which results in me frantically seeking out the words 'families welcome' whenever Emma and I are looking for a holiday).

5 - The last episode of 'Doc Martin' made me cry.

I cast this meme towards the gestalt Audio Time Team entity, Mags, Dan and Robin.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Put him on the bonfire and watch him die...

Visited the local Odeon last night (see right). Long term readers (if they existed) might remember my hateful experiences at Cardiff multiplexes.

How refreshing then to visit a cinema that seemed to still be located in the 1984 of my youth. Tiny little foyer, friendly staff, Alvin and the Chipmunks and a good time had by all.

I may visit the cinema more than once in the next calendar year.


You might ask what had managed to coax me out of my lair to visit the kinema. Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the film that succeeded where so many summer attractions had failed. In 1998 Elizabeth blew off a lot of socks with it's well crafted tale of courtly intrigues, spymasters, love affairs and religious fanatics. Not to mention its opulent costumes and design.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is strong on opulent costumes and courtly intrigue but falls far short of the success of the first volume of Elizabeth I's adventures. It would be unfair to say I didn't enjoy it but I did find myself disappointed.

The performances are splendid. Cate Blanchett is, once again, incredible as the Virgin Queen and is supported well by Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Rhys Ifans and a host of reliable character actors. Special mention should be saved for Jordi MollĂ 's utterly barking, birdlike Phillip of Spain.

Towards the climactic battle with the Spanish armada the film begins to over embellish it's set pieces and seems to flirt with the notion of becoming Elizabeth 2: This Time it's Personal. Whilst I enjoyed Blanchett's rousing speech to the troops (and her snazzy armour) it all seemed more Middle-Earth than Tudor England, and as for Walter 'John McClane' Raleigh riding his flaming galleon into the Spanish ships before diving into an unnecessary underwater sequence? This so distracted me that I found myself lost in reverie wondering if Clive Owen will ever escape the shadow of James Bond (he would have been great though - wouldn't he).

It felt a little like an entirely different film had stormed in when no one was looking and taken over the screen. Worse still, despite thousands of pounds and months of post production there are two corking boom shots in the finished film. That's quite shoddy if you ask me.

Definitely worth seeing then, but don't expect The Golden Age to match up to it's predecessor.


I felt series six of 24 was pretty patchy (and I'm probably being kinder than most) but I still find myself extremely excited by the series seven trailer...

What..? How..?

It's pretty much the duty of any writer, and any right-minded television watcher, to understand exactly why the Writers Guild of America have decided to strike and just how it will effect American (and thusly the World's) television.

I recommend then that you take yourself hence and read Piers Beckley's summation of the whole affair here.

If you are a British writer I'd also recommend reading Robin Kelly's post here.

We don't want no dirty scabs round these parts.


Off to Himley Hall in Dudley this evening for the 'Fireworks and Music Spectacular'. I'm assured it's the bees knees and it's a first for Emma and I as we've never been to a fireworks display together before - despite some of the best laid plans.

It's hats-and-scarves weather and what better than the smell of gunpowder, candyfloss and 'ooh-ing' children to enjoy a chilly November evening?

Spare a thought for Guy Fawkes if you're attending a display this weekend, all he wanted was to blow up parliament you know.