Hi There,

I hope you all had a very good Christmas and New Year break and that your creativity is now at full power. Personally I succumbed to the dreaded lurgy on New Years Day and am just about getting back up to speed again.

I’m just about to go into my own personal ‘course season’ with the first weekend of the 2013 Channel 4 screenwriting course on Jan 19-20, with my ‘Authoritative Guide To Writing and Selling A Great Screenplay‘ the following weekend , Jan 26-27. (Special guest speaker – Tanya Tillett, from the Knight Hall literary agency).

We still have a few places on this Jan 26-27 course and at the end of tomorrow SATURDAY JAN 12th the early-bird price offer of £197 ends and the price reverts to the full £229 – so get in quick if you’re interested!

We do also have some places left on our March 16-17 course. (Special guest speakers Ben Stoll from the Channel 4 drama department and producer \ writer Matt Bouch, whose new E4 show, MY MAD FAT DIARY starts this coming week).

Full details here –


Please check this new website out and let us know what you think – all feedback welcome!

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve got some excellent interviews \ guest articles up my sleeve to share with you over the next few weeks – so please keep reading the newsletter, which, after the Christmas break, I will be producing weekly again from now on.

Over the last year, your feedback and responses to this weekly screenwriting newsletter have been fantastic – any feedback is greatly appreciated – but particularly so when you respond with your own thoughts and ideas about screenwriting in response to what I’ve written – so please, in the New Year, KEEP THEM COMING!

And if any of you have a burning idea about which you’d like to write a GUEST BLOG – please get in touch!


You may remember in my last blog on Dec 21st I set you a cunning CHRISTMAS QUIZ on British TV Drama. This week – I have again included this quiz – followed by the ANSWERS. There are a few of the answers that you wouldn’t have been able to find on the internet – I’d be interested in particular to know if you agree with my (completely subjective) answer to q.19!

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 Outcast

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 McBain

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




1              C Invasion Earth

2              A Cracker

3              C Truly Madly Deeply

4              C Selling Ice cream

5              Parade’s End, Occupation, This Is England ’86, This Is England ’88, The Accused, The Street, Good Cop.

6              A Boardwalk Empire

7              Ashley Pharoah, Matthew Graham & Tony Jordan

8              Matthew Graham

9              Michael Lindsay-Hogg & Charles Sturridge

10           A ITV technicians strike

11           C Eleven

12           A Kenny McBain

13           C The Wench Is Dead

14           Both made non-speaking, cameo appearances in all their films.

15           The Remorseful Day

16          1C 2A 3B

17           B Ben Whishaw

18           Christopher Tietjens

19           They kill the antagonist in episode one (of 5)

20           Have sexual intercourse with a pig on national TV.

21           Both written by Stephen Butchard

22           C Jane Tennison

23           A Vibrator.

24           C black flower

25           C Eleven

26           C Robert Lindsay

27           I couldn’t possibly comment.

28           Mr Marlow (Michael Gambon’s dad) in The Singing Detective and Mr Carson, the Butler in Downton Abbey, are both played by Jim Carter.

29           B Michael Wearing.

30           A W. H. Davies – 1871 -1940 author of “Diary of a  Supertramp”

31           C Z Cars

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

33           C TV Extra.

34           B Yann Demange

35           A Company

36           C Kavanagh QC

37           B Dominic Savage

38           C Ashley Walters

39           B Nottingham

40           C Konnie Huq

With many thanks to 29A (Craig Dickson!) who came up with some of these questions…

Until next week – I wish you a Happy and Productive Writing week,

All the best



Jan 11th 2013