What I’m trying to illustrate here is just how many amazing stories (and character ideas) there are out there in the big wide world, stories available for you to use, adapt, make your own.

All of the below strike me as fascinating starting points for dramatic story. In each instance you could either craft a factual drama based on the actuality of the story; or use it as a jumping-off point and inspiration to make this your own – often even to the point where it will be impossible to recognise the original starting point.

I have quoted briefly from the specific stories and then given my initial thoughts about how you could use / dramatise / fictionalise these stories – but we would all find some particular, personal angle on these stories and want to reinterpret them in our own individual way.

These are all quotes / stories from The Guardian newspaper & website March 13th 2024.

There was nothing remarkable about this particular paper on this particular day. There are this many potentially exciting dramatic ideas in every newspaper every day (even my local paper the East Anglian Daily Times!)


A moment that changed me: I discovered my mother was a sex worker… As a judgmental 10-year-old, I was shocked and ashamed when I walked in on Mam with a client. Decades later, I realised what a remarkable woman she was.’

Potentially a story told over decades about this mother / child relationship. About the child’s perception of and relationship with their mother, how this might change from animosity to respect / love? As with all these stories, there are so many different ways to use / approach it – but this seems like such a fertile starting-point.


I lost a leg after being crushed by a lorry. I cried a lot – then got on with building a new life. Victoria Lebrec forgave the driver who almost killed her. Nine years on, she is happy, active, at peace with her changed body. But she is still fighting to make the roads safer.’

I see many possibilities in this story or a loose adaptation – one person’s response to a terrible accident and injury. How it changed them personally – but also drove them to action in response, to address the issue of deaths & injuries on the road.


Naps, tacos and 11 world records: how Camille Herron ran 560 miles in six days. The ultrarunner is famed for her achievements in long-distance events. Breaking 11 world records in a single competition may be her finest feat to date.’

A more obviously inspirational story. A potentially fascinating character story – why does this person need to punish themselves in this way?! This sort of story about an extreme physical challenge, a journey, is a great cinematic metaphor for the struggle within.


You might want to combine the two stories above – an ultra-runner with one leg? As a principle of story creation, this crashing together of two seemingly disparate story ideas can often be really fruitful.


Investors are making a fortune from UK healthcare. Why is nobody holding private equity to account? From care homes to cancer treatment, millions are being siphoned out of the system every year – usually to the detriment of services.’

Perhaps a drier, less personal story that is less obviously easy to dramatise. But the scandal of the misuse and abuse of the UK’s National Health care structure is a big, compelling story. There are all sorts of ways to do this – but I think this could be the basis of a compelling, fact-based, conspiracy / investigative thriller about corruption and abuse of the NHS – IMO this is a story that needs to be dramatized – in the same vein as Mr Bates vs The Post Office and the excellent, horrifying Breathtaking. (I’m currently watching the wonderful Dopesick and I can see comparisons with an idea like this – both in the subject matter and the multi-character, multi-stranded, multi-timeline way you could approach this sort of huge story).


I was sweating before I even opened my mouth: could I overcome my fear of public speaking? When I was younger I was so terrified of public speaking that I went out of my way to avoid it. If I was forced to address a crowd, I didn’t sleep for days before because I would loop disaster scenarios over and over in my head. When it came to the actual event, my hands would be clammy, my breathing would be erratic and I’d speed through my speech in a desperate need just to be done.’

Something like this was the basis for the very successful The King’s Speech – but I think fear of public speaking is such a universal emotional response – I can imagine a story about this (perhaps an ensemble drama series about a group of people who meet with a therapist / counsellor to prepare for a public speech they each have to make could work very well).


Children are being failed’: why more English parents are home educating. Fines, health needs and a poor learning environment are among the reasons for the rise in children taken out of school.

What fascinates me about this idea are the wide-ranging questions and repercussions around home-schooling, the prejudices around it, being able to dramstise all the pros and cons, perhaps through the story of one family – it has the potential to dramatise the whole thorny question of education – focusing on questions of parenting and parental responsibility.


Palette to paycheck: the Lagos gallery helping children make a living from their art. The Children’s Art Gallery supports young Nigerian artists from low-income families, helping them sell their work around the world and build a better life.’

IMO another great starting point for a multi-character dramatic treatment. Whether this is set in Nigeria or the UK, the idea of releasing under-privileged, under-resourced children through their artistic expression and talents seems like another rich starting point for dramatic story.


 ‘Like some sort of UFO’: strange metal pillar found on Powys hill…A spate of similar pillars appeared around the world in 2020…Conspiracy theorists have suggested that aliens could be behind the structures.’

This could work in many different ways – the kicking-off point for a very dark horror idea; or a whimsical, rural comedy.


Because these stories come from a newspaper, they (mostly) seem to already have a strong political or social agenda. They tackle issues that are thorny, delicate, difficult – exactly what you want from drama.

The next newsletter will be on Friday April 5th,

All the best



Twitter: @PhilipShelley1

Friday March 22nd 2024