Hi There,

The main part of this week’s newsletter is a CHRISTMAS QUIZ about British TV drama, which you should find quite taxing. I’ll give you the answers on Friday Jan 11th – no prizes I’m afraid – it’s possible to get all the answers on the internet – although I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on q.’s 14 & 19!

Before we get onto the QUIZ, a couple of other things –


I have now informed the 12 selected writers and they have all confirmed their places on the course. So if you haven’t heard, I’m afraid you haven’t been chosen this time. To all of you who entered though can I say a huge THANK YOU. The standard of scripts has once again been incredibly good. Along with my team of readers, I have spent the last few weeks reading scripts for the course; and there were so many to choose from. The choice of the final 12 was really difficult – there were at least another 50 scripts I could have chosen, and many, many more that were almost as good.

I’ll be in touch with some of the people who made the long-list but didn’t quite make the final 12 in the next few weeks. But the high standard of scripts really concentrated my mind on just how good you have to be nowadays to make a career as a screenwriter – there’s a lot of competition out there!

If you didn’t make it, you should also console yourself with the thought that at the end of the day, the choice is SUBJECTIVE. Which is one of the main reasons the business of screenwriting is so tricky!

But the way I see it is – however many times you get knocked back, however many people don’t respond to your script in the way you want, with every project, you only need ONE person to like it and get behind it for it to be a success.


Places are selling well for both our January and March 2013 courses but there are still places available on both weekends. I run these courses with screenwriter Phil Gladwin and we have a lot of fun doing them. We have received a lot of really positive feedback over the 18 months we have been running the courses, and we have some great special guests from the cutting edge of the industry lined up for the two courses (Tanya Tillett from the Knight Hall literary agency in January; Channel 4 Head of Drama Development Ben Stoll & Writer\Producer Matt Bouch in March).

Quite a few of the writers from these courses applied for the C4 course this year and, although none of them quite made it, there were at least 5 whose scripts got great feedback from the readers and who came extremely close, which was really encouraging to see.

Here’s the link to tell you everything you need to know about the courses and the excellent responses we’ve had to them.


I’m giving myself \ you a short Christmas break. After a solid 5 or 6 weeks of having my face in scripts for 10 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, I need to recharge my batteries! – there will be no blog for the next two weeks – I’ll be back on Friday Jan 11th.

And so without further ado, THE CHRISTMAS QUIZ!

As you’ll see this is no walk in the park but (especially if you don’t resort to internet ‘cheating’!) this should keep you diverted for a while over the holiday period…

British TV Drama QUIZ

1 Jed Mercurio wrote Cardiac Arrest, Bodies + Line of Duty. Can you name a less successful sci-fi drama series he also wrote?

A Survivors

B Outcasts

C Invasion: Earth

2 Which landmark ITV crime show did Nicola Shindler work on as script editor before founding Red Productions?

A Cracker

B Prime Suspect

C Band Of Gold

3 Which feature film did Anthony Minghella write after the Morse pilot?

A The Sheltering Sky

B Memphis Belle

C Truly Madly Deeply

4 What is the Minghella family business?

A Bakery on the Isle of Man

B Restaurant chain in the Channel Islands

C Selling ice cream on the Isle of Wight

5 Stephen Graham acts in at least 7 of the ‘top dramas of the past 5  years’ – can you name them? (7 marks)

6 Stephen Graham also starred in which Martin Scorsese executive-produced HBO series?

A Boardwalk Empire

B The Pacific

C Treme

7 Which 3 writers co-created LIFE ON MARS? (3 marks)

8 And which of these three writers wrote the pilot episode of LIFE ON MARS?

9 Which two directors directed the first episode of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED? (2 marks)

10 Why were two directors needed to direct the first episode (of Brideshead)?

A ITV technicians strike

B Lawrence Olivier non-availability

C British Equity actors strike

11 Brideshead Revisited is a 432 page book. How many episodes was the Granada adaptation?

A 15

B 12

C 11

12 Which producer was responsible for first bringing INSPECTOR MORSE to TV?

A Kenny Mc Bain

B Chris Burt

C Ted Childs

13 Which is the only Inspector Morse film in which Kevin Whately didn’t appear?

A The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn

B The Riddle Of The Third Mile

C The Wench Is Dead

14 What do Morse creator Colin Dexter and Alfred Hitchcock have in common?

15 What is the name of the last Inspector Morse book \ film?

16 Match the fictional House with the real location (3 marks)

1 Downton Abbey 2 Brideshead 3 Groby (from Parade’s End)

A Castle Howard B Duncombe Park C Highclere Castle

17 Who played Sebastian Flyte in the 2008 feature film version of Brideshead Revisited?

A Matthew Goode

B Ben Whishaw

C Dominic Cooper

18 What is the name of the Benedict Cumberbatch lead character in Parade’s End? Extra mark for correct spelling! (2 marks)

19 What is the structural flaw in Good Cop?

20 In Charlie Brooker’s BLACK MIRROR ep.1 what does the prime minister have to do to get a member of the royal family released by her captors?

21 What do the BBC dramas ‘House of Saddam’ and ‘Good Cop’ have in common?

22 What was the name of the Helen Mirren character in Prime Suspect?

A Jane Penhaligon

B Nikki Alexander

C Jane Tennison

23 What does Bob Peck find in Joanne Whalley’s drawer in Edge of Darkness?

A Vibrator.

B Radioactive material

C Top secret govt papers about transporting nuclear waste

24 What does Bob Peck turn into at the end of Edge of Darkness?

A Radioactive Dust.

B Bird.

C Black flower

25 How many years between commissioning the script and transmission of the programme for Our Friends In The North?

A 9

B 10

C 11

26 Which well-known actor turned down the role of Fitz in Cracker?

A Trevor Eve

B David Jason

C Robert Lindsay

27 House of Cards – complete the phrase “You may think that but …”

28 Mr Marlow and Mr Carson – what’s the connection?

29 Boys From The Blackstuff, Our Friends In The North, Edge of Darkness – one man connects them all – who is it?

A Craig Dickson

B Michael Wearing.

C George Faber

30 “What is THIS LIFE, if full of care, we have not time to stand and stare” – said who?

A WH Davies

B AE Houseman

C Shakespeare

31 Alan Plater, John Hopkins, John McGrath, Troy Kennedy Martin, Elwyn Jones, Allan Prior – what series did they all write on?

A Softly Softly

B Dixon of Dock Green

C Z Cars

32 When the BBC asked Alan Bleasdale if they could reshow Boys From The Blackstuff as part of BBC 2’s 25th birthday party he allowed them to do so only if they re-showed another drama, which he considered to be far superior – what was it and which present grande-dame of film and TV starred in it?

A Talking to a Stranger by John Hopkins. Starring Judy Dench.

B Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Maggie Smith,

C Caught On A Train, Peggy Ashcroft

33 “Ready When You Are Mr McGill” by Jack Rosenthal – what did Mr McGill do for a living?

A Rent Boy

B Taxi driver

C TV Extra.

34 Which director do Top Boy, Deadset and Criminal Justice have in common?

A Otto Bathurst

B Yann Demange

C Euros Lyn

35 Which company made THE DEVIL’S WHORE for Channel 4?

A Company

B Carnival

C Daybreak Pictures.

36 Writer Peter Moffat had his first writing credit on which legal drama?

A North Square

B A Wing And A Prayer

C Kavanagh QC

37 Which TV writer was a child actor who appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon?

A Tony Basgallop

B Dominic Savage

C Steven Moffat

38 Which actor appeared in both TOP BOY and THE MURDER of STEPHEN LAWRENCE?

A Arinze Kene

B Geoff Bell

C Ashley Walters

39 With which Midlands town is Shane Meadows synonymous?

A Leicester

B Nottingham

C Wolverhampton

40 To which ex-Blue Peter presenter is Charlie Brooker married?

A Helen Skelton

B Katy Hill

C Konnie Huq


Until Jan 11th – have a great Christmas break and here’s to a creative and highly successful 2013,

Happy Christmas!

All the best



Dec 21st 2012