Professional UK TV drama scribe English Dave has a fascinating post on his blog that includes information about what ITV doesn't want as new drama pitches. Apparently there are three specific non-starters: shows about cops and/or lawyers; shows about women in jeopardy; and shows about stalkers. Dang! So much for my great idea about a brilliant female barrister in jeopardy from a crazed stalker. Nah, only joking - it's a bumbling female barrister. Nope, joking again. She's a solicitor, not a barrister. [Enough unfunny jokes - Ed.] Anyways, English Dave's discussion about what ITV doesn't want sparked a mess of musings in my tiny mind.
Back in the late 19th Century when I was editor of 2000 AD, wannabe scribes would corner me at comic conventions and ask what sort of stories I was looking for. Strangely enough, the reply 'good stories, well told' wasn't enough for some people. I always found it easier to tell people what I didn't want and let them deduce the rest. In all honestly, I didn't know what I wanted, beyond good stories, well told. The few times I tried to create new series and farm them out to writers, the results were less than successful [e.h. Outlaw, Witchworld]. Eventually I realised it was better to let writers do what they do best - be creative and inventive with their writing - and then help them develop that idea into a workable series.
According to English Dave, ITV is looking for two things: classic adaptations [but you have to be an established writer to get those gigs - ideally Andrew Davis]; and 'bold, talked about contemporary drama with something to say about the world we live in'. I's sure it's no coincidence that my screenwriter mentor Adrian Mead has been saying almost exactly the same thing for the past year. It's one of the reasons why I abandoned the idea I had initially developed for the mentoring project. My replacement story is much closer to reality and much nearer the bone - and it's something I'm eager to write about. Let's hope it's something people will be eager to read, too.