Why Yes, I Was In Soho Yesterday Afternoon. What Of It?

Well, as planned, I went to the Monastic Productions Q&A here in London yesterday, as organised by the BBC.

It was, as I’d hoped, an interesting bash, with writers Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh talking about the development process for Life on Mars and Ashes To Ashes, and taking questions. Most of the questions were interesting and, I’d imagine, informative to the broad mass of the audience and not just me (or the person asking the question).

Not many notes to share from the event – I was more busy listening than noting – but the following were a few things I scribbled down:

Ashley :
– It’s vital for the conflict in any tale to be built into the premise.

– Story should be the delivery mechanism for the characters.
– You shouldn’t be afraid to pitch ideas, and put your neck on the chopping board, and then put forward more ideas.
– You have to write without thinking of things like budget and music clearance.

And lest you think from the above that I was paying more attention to Matthew than Ashley, let me raise this point; talking about spending time with other writers on the series discussing plotlines and scenes, Ashley said that he loved those moments more than anything else, and that the thrill of working in that way with other writers was definitely one of the best parts of the job. Now, I’ve heard this sort of thing from a variety of sources now, and it does seem as if there’s quite a bit of hope that the idea of the US-style Writers’ Room is one which is gaining some popularity here in the UK – perhaps more as a notion or aim than a reality, but this may change in time.

However, the people I’ve heard it from tend to be writers, and so a part of me wonders if it might be less a case of an industry-led notion, and maybe more an appealing idea given that writing is all too often a solitary process? I’m not knocking the idea at all, but I wonder how likely it would be to take off in the UK, especially given that drama series such as those named above usually have shorter series than in the US (eight episodes as opposed to 23, for example – same for comedies much of the time). Any thoughts? Let me know.

And speaking of the solitariness of the writerly life, I didn’t manage to spot as many writing bloggers as I’d hoped – though I did get to say a quick hello to Lianne, and think I saw Mr Perry in the front row, I couldn’t see Monsieur Arnopp or Madame Lucy at all – were you folks there, or was it all a trick whereby you pretend you’ll be in one place and then hide somewhere else and laugh at my expense?

If the latter, you really needn’t have bothered; I can get that sort of treatment at home.


The Standards Of Education Today, Eh? In My Day We Wrote On A Slate With A Bit Of Chalk.


Not That I’m Actually Watching It, Mind – I Think I’ll Wait For The Repeats


  1. I stayed at home to spite you, sir. Ha!

    Thanks for those notes. Lord Perry tells me he’ll be writing some up too – and apparently there may be audio at the Writers’ Room site. Lovely. Yes.

  2. No audio.

    But it’ll be edited down into an interview-thing.

  3. Yeah, think I may have done someone’s job already there, Piers…lol. 😉

  4. Ooh, good report, Lara, puts mine to shame.
    Was it just me, or did some attendees seem keen to say how they didn’t like that the central premise of AtA was (or at least seems) more clear than that of LoM? Some of the questions were more like comments on the show, which I thought were a bit out of place really. Might just have been me, but…

  5. No, wasn’t just you, John. Why do peeps go with that attitude? I thought I was in a room of TV Critics at one point!

    Sorry I didn’t catch up with you – without the Arnopp/Vee/Lianne contingent there, I couldn’t be introduced! Next time. x

  6. Well I wasn’t there either, I didn’t know it was on, and I live 1000 miles away from London. But you know I would have been there if I could, for you of course, not for the writing people. And yes I was invited to hide behind a big curtain and snigger at you as you went home alone, but I said NO. And it wasn’t just because the flights were too expensive either !

  7. I wasn’t there! Dammit. But Princess Pants was still ill, sadly. Next time!

  8. The illness excuse, eh ? I guess I can’t give you too much grief… this time, anyway!

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