Sunday, 28 June 2009

Things we noticed watching tv this week 29 (spoilers)

Have you ever read a book and thought, I'd love to adapt that? My guess is that most people reading this will answer yes. It happens to me all the time. I love reading. I read as much as I can. I read for its own sake, the sake of enjoyment. But never truly switching the screenwriting brain off, in the back of mind I'll still be thinking how would I do this on screen? I do this professionally now too of course, as in this era of the adaptation, Production Companies are sending out novels to their readers as much as scripts.

For me, author John O'Farrell is a genius. His novels are just hilarious and continually make me laugh out loud. So when I read May Contain Nuts, with its premise of a mother dressing up as her daughter to take a prestigious school entrance exam, I thought yup, this would make a cool script. In my head I'd pictured Catherine Tate, with her stroppy teenage act already honed, but actually the diminutive Shirley Henderson was perfectly cast. It's been a while since I read the book, but if memory serves this was a pretty faithful adaptation. The trouble was, and this was a real eye opener for me, we react differently to things on a page to things on screen. I know what you're thinking - tell us something we don't know! We know a great book doesn't necessarily make a great screenwork. But what I mean by this is that you can take the same characters, doing the same things, with the same basic motivations, that you like and find very, very funny - put them on screen, and find the whole thing irritating, unbelievable and generally lacking charm.

It didn't seem to be confident enough to play the material straight, but just make it really, really funny. Maybe this was the intention, and right from the word go it was meant to be a satire of upper middle class Britain, UK soccer mums, and all its trappings. (Writer Mark Burton certainly has a fantastic pedigree in quality satire and Elizabeth Berrington played Ffion with such scene chewing, comic book villainy that she was scarier than many a feature film baddie.) But tonally, something similar to say, Outnumbered, may have worked better. Outnumbered does not look to satire what it's like to live in a British middle class family, it is what it's like to live in a British middle class family - constructed and heightened of course to get the comedy, but still played straight. So many of the values of modern life, so much of what we place emphasis on and give importance to, so much about our education system is wrong and ludicrous already, you don't really need to 'send it up.' Just play it straight and work with characters we can relate to and empathise with, whilst concentrating on the comedy, and you may end up with a far more engaging script.

Lack of engagement is not something Occupation suffered from. How often do we hear why can't we do something like The Wire over here blah blah? Well okay, this drama was only three hours long, but still, in terms of quality, it was brilliantly written by Peter Bowker. I'm also really pleased it was three hours long. Not quite sure about the whole consecutive nights thing, but there must have been a massive temptation to say okay let's cut this to two hours so we can make it a one off TV event. But the three hours allowed the story to play out in a much more fulfilling, sweeping, emotional roller coaster.

What was most impressive is that there was no agenda in Occupation. No generalised statements, no easy answers, no simple solutions. This was epitomised with the final scene, when three characters just sit, looking at each other, and you can feel them thinking, how the hell did we all get here?

I've been deliberately vague and I'll tell you why. I'm gonna make this a first for Things we noticed watching TV this week. I just want everyone to go and watch it. I don't think it's still on iplayer, but it's out on DVD and even if you don't want to buy it, it can certainly be rented. Post what you thought about it, and why, here. And hopefully appreciate that this, is what we can achieve on British TV.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Shooting myself in the foot?

It did occur to me, even before writing the last Things we noticed watching TV this week segment, that I might be shooting myself in the foot. What if I criticise a show, and then get a meeting with the person behind it, who then reads my blog (cos it's linked to the end of my emails) and sees what I've written. Sounds a bit pretentious, but then when the Primeval insider commented (and no I still don't know who it was) it made me think about it again. Maybe it was Adrian Hodges himself, although I doubt it. Maybe it was one of the writers, a producer, someone who works for Impossible Pictures? Maybe it was someone I'd really want to work with? Would they take offence? (I must say I am just using this as an example cos they seemed pretty cool, pointed out a couple of errors I'd made, and after all I do really like the show and still annoyed it was cancelled.)

But the thing is this. I speak my mind and I tell it like I see it. About a show I've watched, a movie I've seen, or work I am giving feedback on. But not once, to my recollection, have I ever said this is crap, full stop. Or I hated this, end of story.

Right from the word go, at the beginning of my MA, that sort of thing was outlawed. Why? Well firstly because it's rude. And secondly who exactly does that benefit? We were told, in no uncertain terms, that if you didn't like something, or if something wasn't working for you, you of course had to say so, but only if you explained why. (And I would add, in the nicest terms possible.) The writer is then free to either agree, or not. Because any one persons opinion, and that's all it is, may not necessarily be right.

And you have to be pretty thick skinned in this business as it is, perhaps more so as a writer. When I get the chance to ask a writer about their show, I always ask were you happy with how it turned out? And it always amazes me how candid they often are. Usually some things they liked, and were happy with, and some they weren't and will try to put right in the next series. Because words on the page don't always come out as you imagined on screen, even for the biggest writers in town.

One day, hopefully, loads and loads of things I've written will be on screen - and then it will be open season for anyone to say what they think of them! That's freedom of speech isn't it? And as long as it's constructive and remotely intelligent and analytical, (not just YOU SUCK) I am big enough to take it. Ask anyone who has ever read my work and commented on it and I think they will all say I took what was said in good grace, even when I didn't agree.

So, I will continue to talk about TV shows etc, because it's as much for me and my own writing, to analyse what is working and what's not (in my opinion!) I recently watched Occupation, May Contain Nuts and am still watching Hope Springs, so come back soon if you wanna know what I thought of them.

Monday, 15 June 2009

CBBC Q and A

I couldn't make the Writersroom event tonight, but my friend and writers' group buddy, Matt Sinclair, did. Here's what he had to say.

On stage were writer, Elly Brewer, and the new head of CBBC drama, Steven Andrew. Steven in particular lit up the room. He reminded me very much of the Paul Mayhew-Archer, who guest lectured during my MA at the end of a long day, but had us all enthralled. Steven is a man who clearly knows his stuff like the back of his hand, absolutely loves what he does, and would undoubtedly be someone a writer would love to work with.

We saw a clip of MI High, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Summerhill and CBBC want to build on those brands. The demise of CITV (where Steven used to work) was a real blow because it was only really CITV and CBBC doing children's drama (despite all the channels out there.) So the BBC’s remit is kind of bigger, better, but fewer.

Steven wants drama that will stay with kids and they'll talk about in the pub (when they're adults) like we do about Press Gang, Catweasel, Worzel Gummidge and the Wombles etc... He wants to create stuff that sits in the memory for thirty years. Or 'memories that carry on,' as he put it.

He wants dramas that show us and make us think about the world with a fresh perspective. Maybe the world isn't what it seems. He wants unmissable story telling that stands out against Disney and Nickelodeon etc.

The drama should be all of these: MAGICAL (like waking up and seeing carpet of snow for the first time) THRILLING (like a ride at Alton Towers) and EXCITING (like Christmas Eve when you're a kid).

When Steven was at ITV a producer said that there are two types of writers:
1) Writers who can write anything and will write anything to get it on TV and
2) Writers who have something to say.

He wants the second. Think about what you're saying, what it is about. He worked on My Parents are Aliens and was essentially about the absurdities of the human condition. If an episode was pitched that wasn't about that, it was dropped.

More important: It needs rock solid characters. In New York someone pitched him a multi platform type show that was a great idea etc but, ultimately his response was: who are your characters and why do we want to go with them?

Steven was then asked from the audience if there was something they didn't want. He discounted nothing (remember that characters are his priority.) But he did say that they had a few Narnia type dramas knocking around and said the worst things were cliched characters: geeks, troublesome teens, that kind of thing.

He also said that if there's a lot of dialogue he wouldn’t bother. As always, you've got to hook people in the first 10 pages and visual story telling without reams and reams of dialogue is the best way. He felt that maybe mental illness in school kids was in the ether and he was also interested in an ethnic or outside perspective on British culture.

Finally, Ellie's tips were: don't talk down to kids, they'll know straight away and you'll lose them. Keep scenes and dialogue tight. The story must be rooted in the world of the child. They drive it, find solutions and solve problems. There must be something emotionally tangible in there, even if it’s fantastical. Kids are interested in life and death.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Free Euroscript Event

I can't go cos it's the same night as the wife's birthday! But if anyone does be sure to let us know how it went.

7.00 for 7.30pm June 25th

Grand Announcement: Competition Winners 2009

With 'Write a Winning Treatment' panel session.

The winners of the 2009 Euroscript Screen Story Competition will be announced at our free industry networking event on Thursday June 25th.

Our panel of experienced professional writers, editors and directors will reveal what they look for in a script treatment, and why the successful submissions to the competition made it through to the final shortlist.

They'll give tips on how to create an impact, warn about some common pitfalls, and outline the golden rules - and when to break them - taking you through the whole process from log-line to fade-out. Invaluable to anyone undertaking the process of writing a treatment or submitting a script.

Come and learn, and ask questions, drink, chat and mingle.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL. To book a place, email now - you will need to give separate email addresses for any friends you'd like to bring along.

The Green Man
383 Euston Road
London NW1 3AU

Opposite Great Portland Street Station

Monday, 8 June 2009

Things we noticed watching tv this week 28 (spoilers)

With everything else going on, I haven't yet mentioned series 3 of either Robin Hood or Primeval in this column. So this seems a bit overdue. But with Robin Hood having only 3 episodes to go, and Primeval now finished, it actually gives me a chance to look back over a substantial body of work. I'm gonna say from the outset that I enjoy both shows. I know many people don't, and that they think either one or both are rubbish. Fair enough. But as pure Saturday evening slot entertainment, I think both are rather enjoyable. However the idea of this column has never been to give a traditional review that you can find from the TV critics in newspapers etc. What I've always tried to do, for myself as much as anyone, is analyse what I think works and doesn't work so I can apply that to my own writing.

And I think it's really interesting that these series 3's have perhaps shown the value of a US style showrunner (or put simply, a lead writer - and usually creator.) Because I think the lack of involvement of Dominic Minghella (and probably reduced involvement of Foz Allan) from Robin Hood, and Adrian Hodges (and possibly Tim Haines too) from Primeval, has really been noticeable.

Let's take Primeval first, as that has concluded. Be honest, as concepts go it's brilliant. Simple but brilliant. That's why it's being made into a Hollywood movie. And the first two season's rocketed along. So when series 3 kicked off, I had no idea Douglas Henshall was leaving. So Cutter's death came as a complete shock, which I thought was fantastic, because as regular readers will know, I'm very big on killing off key characters in a show that asks us to buy into life and death drama. Because if no one ever dies, well, the belief will evaporate and it will just become boring. (I'll come back to this with Robin Hood.) Then two weeks after that, Lucy Brown left the show, albeit escaping death by the skin of her teeth and leaving of her own accord. This set up the precedent now that no one was safe. For two main characters to leave during a series (as opposed to at the end of one and then not return) is very rare. Suddenly there was the real possibility that anyone could get killed off. But I do feel that the series lacked focus and a sense of unity. By that I mean although Jason Flemyng was brought in and led very well as Danny Quinn, Laila Rouass's Sarah was given hardly anything to do. (And she's an excellent actress, as anyone who saw the brilliant Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee a few years ago will know.) And Captain Becker was even worse. I actually feel a bit sorry for the actor because his part seemed so bland and underwritten.

Then there was the series arc (again something regulars will know I bang on about a lot) This was where the problems really lay and something a strong showrunner would've helped avoid. What series arc there was centred around an artifact from the future, the eventual end of the world, and Helen Cutter running around in the thick of it. Oh and throw in Christine Johnson to that too. Her character actually typified this lack of focus. Because as well as still not having a clue as to who she worked for or what she was trying to do, one week she was getting a dressing down and seemingly beaten after being trapped by Danny and Lester, and the next she was carrying on, throwing her weight around like nothing had happened. It turned out that the artifact showed where anomalies were (although I think we knew that before the finale) and actually didn't seem to make a difference to anyone. It ended with Abby and Connor trapped in one time period, and Danny stranded in another. So I hope, despite strong rumours that the shows future is in jeopardy, this is not the end. It's kind of a slave to the special effects, which in turn eat up the budget, but it doesn't need to be with good writing. One of the best episodes of the series was James Moran's, which in the main featured one little creature and a spooky house. In three seasons, only once, a medieval knight, has anything other than a creature come through an anomaly. More creative thinking and less big digital dinosaurs can reduce the budget and improve the story telling. And of course a stronger series arc!

Robin Hood has had similar problems. Season 2 ended with the humdinger of Marion being killed by Gisborne. Many fans were outraged, but I thought this was spot on. Not because of Lucy Griffiths, who I thought was rather good. But because once again, if characters lives are in danger each week, and people are running around with swords and shooting arrows, and yet still no one gets killed, we begin to lose interest. And unlike Primeval, who could easily replace its lead, Robin Hood of course cannot. It's the classic James Bond problem. No matter how many times Robin is on the verge of death, you know he'll be okay. So it gets ever more ludicrous. The pinnacle this season was when Gisborne had him completely surrounded, and a volley of arrows or a rush of blades would've seen him off. But no, he thought, a hungry lion would be the way to go instead! It just becomes silly and although there can be comedy in a show like this, the drama has to be played straight otherwise why should we care. It's a delicate balance of tone. But if Robin can't die, the threat has to come to the others. To that end, I think Robin should've killed Gisborne in the Series 3 opener. The fact that Richard Armitage obviously had breaks from filming and has largely played a peripheral role in the series, only adds weight to this. (Although having said that the twist in last week's episode means that the shift in his and Robin's relationship could drive the series to the finish line.) Same with the Sheriff, who has disappeared but those wiggling fingers when he was supposed to be dead, suggests a return is likely. His absence and the appearance of Gisborne's sister and Prince John has been fun though.

But again, the overall series arc has been missing. Season 2 was a while ago now so forgive me if I am off, but I think there was a long running plan, involving black knights and lords and stuff, to eventually kill the King in the Holy Land. Anything, even remotely like that, has been absent. And that is probably why, with 3 episodes to go, we get Robin's long lost thought to be dead father turning up with the news that Robin and Guy share a half brother who they must save from imminent death. Like I said before, a strong showrunner would probably have held greater creative control and unity of vision to balance the series a little better.

I'm trying to give up reading screenwriting books (seriously it's better to save your money and read scripts) but one I keep going back to at the moment is Alex Epstein's Crafty TV Writing. It's completely from a US perspective but it gives a fantastic insight into how shows work over there. And you are left in no doubt that the showrunner comes up with what's called the template, basically how the show functions tonally, story wise, etc, and that s/he is responsible for making sure every script meets that criteria. In the last few years this has become more common in this country. People like Jimmy McGovern and Tony Jordan have taken control of their shows. But there probably isn't a better example than Russell Davies and Doctor Who. By all accounts he ran the show in every sense, rewriting mercilessly scripts that would never ultimately have his name on. But would the relaunch have worked as successfully had it not had this unity of vision? I personally preferred early Shameless to that latter ones, I imagine it's because of the dwindling involvement of Paul Abbott.

Now most of the people reading this, including myself, are a long way off the chance to create our own shows. Correction. We're a long way off getting them made. The creation is up to us. Over a thousand people entered the Red Planet Prize this year with TV pilots. So plenty of people are doing it. So I hope that when these people do get their chance, it is indeed truly their chance, and the shows they create remain their own unique vision. And if indeed it's time to move on to pastors new, like Minghella, Hodges and now Davies, a suitable replacement is brought in. Over to you Mr. Moffat.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

100 not out

So apparently this is my 100th blog post! That's nothing really compared to David's mammoth 1500th - but still seems like a mini milestone to me. I've really enjoyed it and it's been fantastic connecting with other writers. Rumours abound that blogging is out of fashion and dying out cos of things like facebook and twitter - but screw that, I'm not going anywhere! (This blog, and to a lesser extent my facebook profile, is my presence on the internet. And that pays off when I take meetings with people who begin with "so I read your blog...")

Anyway, never one to miss a chance to take stock of a few things, I am gonna do just that if I may.

Firstly, I've been quite overwhelmed with the amount of requests I've had to read The Storyteller. I can understand why. If I'd known Felicity the year before, I would've also wanted to read her winning script, just to get even a hint of a leg up. However just a word of caution. Had I read Felicity's before I entered, it may well have done more harm than good. Not because her script isn't any good, because it's excellent, but because her style, tone, story, pretty much everything, is sooo different from mine. If I'd read that thinking okay, this is what a winning script looks like, it may well have thrown me off my game, as opposed to help me improve it. So by all means, you're welcome to read The Storyteller, because it did win, it is a good script, and reading good scripts helps write them. But please, please, don't make the mistake of thinking this is what the Academy is looking for so I should tailor my project to fit this kind of thing. What they are looking for is what they say the are looking for. And surprise, surprise, it's what everyone is looking for. Originality, strong voice, great characters, good story etc. Write the story you want to write and just write it as well as you possibly can.

By the way, I think I have responded to everyone who has emailed so far, but some have gone to junk and some of my replies have apparently gone to spam for some reason. So if you haven't heard from me check that first, and if there's nothing there, feel free to drop me another line.

Finally on this subject for now, with just over a month to go until the deadline, drafts should be well under way. If you would like me to look at it I would advise getting in as early as possible, because firstly, you'll want time to rewrite afterwards, and secondly, if everyone emails at the last minute, it's gonna be a nightmare!

In other news, I got a few questions about what happened to the Rise Summer Challenge, probably cos I mentioned it on the blog a few weeks ago. I have to say I had no idea as I'm not connected with them in any way, just another entrant. So I decided to email them myself and this is their response:

We have had a lot of enquiries regarding The Summer Challenge and understandably so, it has been an incredibly long time. We have found it hard coming up with a short-list as many people are involved with reading at this stage. This has meant it has been hard coordinating everyone's busy schedules to finalise the list.

If you would like to enter other competitions or send your screen play to other people, please feel free to do so however refrain from giving any rights away as we still hold them. To regain them please send an email to stating your withdrawal from the competition and wait for a response.

We are sorry for the wait but we want to give each submission the attention it deserves.

Best wishes

The Summer Challenge Team

So whilst it has been a rather long time, fair play to them for being upfront about it and explaining the delay. I assume therefore that if you haven't had an email from them saying you haven't won, you're still in with a shout! So keep the faith and those fingers crossed.

I'm also relieved to say I made it through the first Writers' Academy culling - meaning I'm down to 150 from around 500. Massive phew and thank goodness for that. Nothing now until the end of June. But there was an interesting blog from Ceri Meyrick about the initial process here. It's well worth reading and provides some interesting insights as to what sort of thing is being submitted, what's working, and what's not. The summary was particularly interesting to note and breaks down like this:


- Most of the readers felt that the standard was higher this year.
- Lots of bravery - interesting original worlds.
- Sparky dialogue
- Technically accomplished scripts (although this meant the need to be stand out original was greater)


- Too many stage directions
- Scripts opening with several pages of monologues
- Dialogue that sprouted facts endlessly
- Spelling mistakes and hard to read script formats

The positives are great news. Overall improvement and brave story telling across the board is better for everyone. The negatives though were a little shocking. I blame the Americans for the stage directions! The wealth of scripts on the net is fantastic for writers but we need to be careful about reading shooting scripts, or scripts that are published but are not really how the script would've been written in the first place. Long story short, lay off the stage directions. We just don't do them here. And if you don't wanna look bad to people who matter, like BBC readers, leave them out.

Scripts opening with pages of monologues - and for that read voice over too. There are loads of people to blame for this, like American Beauty, Guy Ritchie and many others! But you know what, they all worked, so what's the problem? The problem is, most of the time it doesn't. Nine times out of ten, it's just really boring. I would never give a sweeping rule like don't ever open your scripts this way - but I would say think very carefully about whether this is the best way to do it. This extends to the next negative, which amounts to expositional dialogue. It's a massive no, no! It's boring, slow, and will mostly float over everyone's head. But here's the flip. Every script that's ever been written, probably has some exposition in it. Any information that you as writer know, but you need the audience/reader to know, is probably exposition. The trick of course, is to get it over in a way that doesn't look like you are doing just that (like two characters having an argument,) or that there is something else going on in the scene that is more exciting and distracts us. Probably the all time classic example of this is in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Who the hell remembers all that jargon about where the Ark is and how comes the Nazis are digging in the wrong place. But we do remember praying that Indie doesn't eat the poisoned dates that kill that little monkey.

But Ceri's final negative was the most shocking of all. I really thought, with script samples out there, and formatting programmes like Final Draft, Movie Magic or indeed various free ones, that this sort of nonsense was on the way out. In fact, less and less of the scripts I get sent, either privately or through companies, are guilty of this. So if I'm not getting them, why on earth people are sending them to the BBC in the most crucial, biggest, life changing scheme around, I really don't know.

People - we have to sort the format out! It's courier 12 point for a reason. The script layout is there for a reason. It doesn't matter if you've found a cooler font or a flashier way to set it out. You're gonna look like an idiot. No I take that back, you're gonna look like an amateur, which is worse. Invest in a formatting programme or get someone to show you how to download one of the free ones if you're not technologically minded (I'm certainly not!)

As far as spelling goes. This too is unforgivable. Again, I don't see this too often so it's bizarre it's been an issue for the Writers' Academy. It's extremely hard to proofread your own work. You tend to just see what you think you wrote. But it's always, always worth putting it aside for a bit and then doing a read through purely looking for spelling mistakes and typos before you send it anywhere. Better still, if at all possible, get someone to read it through for you with a big red pen at the ready. Actually proofreading properly is a thankless task, because you shouldn't be reading the text for the story. It's slow reading in a very detached way. I know because I'm a professionally trained proofreader with Chapterhouse.

So, I've decided to open up a proofreading service connected to Script Reading On The Blog. Once again, I would always suggest that if you don't need this service, of course don't use it! Far better, and easier, to get a mate, a partner, a parent, whoever, to do it for you. (As long as they do it properly!) But if you don't feel you have anyone you can ask or trust, by all means get in touch. Because it's the saddest thing in the world to slave over a script, work so hard on getting the story and characters right, and then just piss off readers with typos or spelling mistakes (and formatting ones too.)

So that's it for now - here's to the next 100 posts!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Moving On (Part Five)

Moving On concluded with Butterfly Effect by Esther Wilson. (To my knowledge this is her first screen credit although she appears to be an experienced playwright.) To be honest, this story had a weird title (yes I know what it means) for a confused story. Initially it had the biggest cast, and that contributed in making the opening far more confusing than the previous episodes, which had been characterised by a very clear ‘this is our theme today.’

Essentially the story was about Sylvie, who works at a youth home shelter type thing (I really wasn’t sure) and one night, lets in a young man who lives there who is being chased home by a gang of youths. The twist is that this guy is in a heightened state and wielding a gun. However Sylvie is the only one who sees the gun (or so we are led to believe, although later it’s revealed a colleague did but kept quite to either protect herself or the boy, something that is never followed up on,) so the police are powerless.

Sylvie though is traumatised by the incident, doesn’t want to leave the house any more, keeps texting and checking up on her son at uni, and goes as far as handing in her resignation at work. The trouble is, I didn’t believe any of this. I don’t mean to be glib. I’m sure anyone who has been in proximity to a gun wielding man can be very badly affected. But Sylvie wasn’t really threatened, like she says she was. Jacko, the boy, yells at her to open the locked door so he can escape the youths (let’s ignore the fact that he had a gun so surely had the upper hand.) I don’t think that at any point he actually threatens to harm Sylvie. So her reaction seems completely over the top. Life goes on, right? Again, I don’t mean to be flippant, but I found it interesting that Sylvie’s mate, Barbara, basically says as much in the script. I seriously wonder whether this was included to flag up and pre-empt what everyone assumed the audience would be thinking. This can sometimes be clever writing, as long as there is a pay off as to the real reason for Sylvie’s reaction (like she’d been the victim of a bad attack when younger or something and it evoked repressed memories.) But nothing was forthcoming.

Then all of a sudden another witness to the gun comes forward, offscreen and who we never meet, but now it means the police can prosecute. This could’ve been really interesting. It’s something that we could all relate to and a theme that I have always found fascinating. What motivates have a go heroes? What would I do if I had to testify against someone dangerous? Is it better to turn a blind eye and protect myself and my family or should I do the ‘right’ thing? If the Butterfly Effect had been about this, we could’ve been in for a cracking drama. As it was, this was all handled very quickly, and essentially resolved by a bizarre confrontation between Sylvie and Jacko.

I’m not sure witnesses are allowed to approach defendants on the street, shout at them for ruining their life, pretend to have either a gun or a mobile phone in their bag, and then hit them round the head with the phone. I think it would probably jeopardise the case. But this is exactly what happened. And it concluded with Sylvie retracting her resignation and turning up in court to testify against Jacko. Well and truly ‘moved on.’ So all she needed to get over her massive emotional trauma was to yell at him. I don’t mean to be pedantic, but the whole thing seemed to be a missed opportunity with a potentially cracking theme, but just turned out to be rather ill conceived.

Which was a shame, because I think the series as a whole was very worthwhile, with some good writing and hey, it’s better than watching repeats of Diagnosis Murder. Jimmy McGovern must be applauded for, along with The Street, his one-man crusade to surreptitiously bring back the play for today. It’s pie in the sky of course because the world has run out of money, but wouldn’t it be nice if the BBC could do more of these, along with Doctors, and the recent Missing, and have three home grown daytime dramas to offer opportunities to new writers?