Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Today I become a TV drama writer

At 1.45pm today BBC1 will screen an episode of Doctors called A Pill for Every Ill. It's the 199th episode of Series XI, and the show's 1764th episode [according to]. There's nothing remarkable about any of this for most people, but for me it's a special moment, my first TV drama commission. I've already seen this episode on disc, but will be watching the broadcast as it happens.

UPDATE: for those who have access to the BBC's wonderful iPlayer, A Pill for Every Ill is now available to watch here.

Is the episode perfect? No, of course not. I've still got so much to learn about writing for TV - but it's a start. Two years ago I was writing a trial script for the show, and crossing my fingers. That proved good enough to earn me an invitation to pitch story of the day ideas, but my script editor gave me fair warning: a successful trial script was no guarantee I'd ever get a commission.

She described it as getting a foot in the door, only to discover there's a massive staircase still to climb once you're inside - and she was right. Over the past two years I've had plenty of ideas that didn't make the producer's pile [too similar to upcoming serial strands, cast member leaving, etc] or, even if they did get that far, weren't good enough to get banked.

I've learned patience and persistence are essential. Getting a first writing credit on Doctors is no fluke, but securing a second credit is just as challenging. Unlike most continuing dramas, Doctors resembles a miniature Play For Today with a new standalone story in each episode, created by the writer. That means starting from scratch again, another blank page to fill.

Anyway, getting my next episode away is a concern for another time. Today I'm going to pop a bottle of fizz as my name appears on screen and enjoy the moment. In the meantime, the official BBC website listing for my episode is reproduced below. Onwards!

A Pill for Every Ill
Today, 13:45 on BBC One

Synopsis: Simon finds himself out of his depth when treating a woman with extreme PMS symptoms, while Elise invites Immie to spend the night at her house. And Daniel has to apologise to Zara when his jealousy almost gets the better of him.

Dr Simon Bond: David Sturzaker
Louisa Cole: Sally Ann Matthews [pictured above]
Paul Blackwell: Alun Raglan
Imogen Hollins: Charlie Clemmow
Dr Jimmi Clay: Adrian Lewis Morgan
Dr Daniel Granger: Matthew Chambers
Dr Zara Carmichael: Elisabeth Dermot Walsh
Dr Charlie Bradfield: Philip McGough
Julia Parsons: Diane Keen
Karen Hollins: Jan Pearson
Rob Hollins: Chris Walker
Jack Hollins: Nicolas Woodman
Lisa Torres: Michelle Lukes
Elise Stone: Hannah Steele

Producer: Erika Hossington
Producer: Mike Hobson
Producer: Peter Eryl Lloyd
Scriptwriter: David Bishop

1. Wed 10 Feb 2010 13:45 BBC One
2. Wed 10 Feb 2010 17:45 BBC HD


Paul Campbell said...


Grant, the Hipster Dad said...


Helen Smith said...

Yay, good for you.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Doctors is a tight show with some great writing, so being amongst that must feel rewarding indeed.

Pete Kempshall said...

Congrats - look forward to seeing it (modern technology, eh?)

David Baillie said...

Congratulations - I'm really chuffed for you. I'll be sure to catch it in iPlayer soon as I take a break.

Anonymous said...

Didn't realise it was your first! Hope I did you justice!!
Sally Ann

COMING SOON: said...

Sally Ann, you and Alun did me proud!

Jim Campbell said...

Congrats, Mr B. I was embroiled in a job of tedious minutiae but have an appointment with the iPlayer in the morning. Very much looking forward to it.

Brenda said...