Wednesday 18 December 2013

Santa Baby

Dear Father Christmas.
This year I’ve been a good little writer. I promise. I’ve hit all my deadlines (eventually), I’ve only sworn at producers and script editors AFTER I’ve put the phone down, I paid my BBC licence fee and my Writers’ Guild subs. I watched ALL of Dancing on the Edge (and didn’t ask for a damn rebate on said licence fee or the six wasted hours of my life back).  I’ve tweeted responsibly and I’ve supported British films at the box office. I even went to the theatre a couple of times, goddammit.

So, I think I deserve to get everything on my Christmas List.  Here goes…
Could you bring me a nice shiny coin? It’s not for me. It’s for the commissioners at a certain UK channel. It seems to me that the only way to get a decision out of them is to call heads or tails. The thing is, there is nothing more guaranteed to strip the passion (that they claim to want) out of a project than to have the powers that be umm and ahh over it for months on end.  I think someone should tell them that around the 7th draft of a treatment, you start to hope that your show/episode won’t actually get commissioned because you couldn’t stand to write the fucking thing. At draft 9 you lose the will to live. At draft 10 someone should call Amnesty International.

I’d like some sparkly new dramas that don’t rely on women being murdered, raped and menaced for plot and story. That means no more dead prostitutes (there must be a skip full of them at the back of Broadcasting House), no more terrified women who don’t call the police because that would fuck up the story and no more charismatic misogynists. It’s been done to the point of utter cliché.

I’d also like some new female characters to play with. Sparky, complicated, flawed, intelligent, powerful LEAD female characters (no  Barbie dolls). You might have to buy those from America or maybe Denmark, they seem to have loads. And could you put some of them on the telly on Saturday night? I’m a bit bored of the companions and damsels in distress that we already have.

Actually, scratch those last two items. I think I know what I really want; more women writing telly. Not just the soaps and stuff about pensioners falling in love. I want women writing stuff that has swords and time-travel and police officers and dinosaurs in it. I can’t be the only good little girl who wants to write a car chase for Christmas. I want to play with the boy’s toys but they don’t seem to know how to share.

Oh, by the way, can you not bring me any more bullshit books telling me how I should write? You know the ones written by people who have never written a damn script in their lives? I’ve got loads and I’ve never got past the third chapter in most of them. I’ve been too busy actually writing. I'd rather get socks. Or herpes.

Finally, this Christmas, I’d like some friends to play with. I’d like producers and script editors to stop keeping writers apart like we’d create a rift in the time/space continuum if we actually end up in the same room together. The thing is that when you put writers together we are combustible; brilliantly so.

Seriously Santa, this year I want to explode with creativity and ideas but it’s really hard to do alone. So, can you ask the nice people on all the shows and all the channels to get us around a table, try a story conference or even throw us a party? Can you also give nice presents to the nice telly people who did just that? But you should only put lumps of coal in the stockings of those producers who treat writers like mushrooms by keeping us in the dark and up to our necks in shit. Remember a writer is for life, not just for Christmas.

And I think that’s it. It’s all a girl could want and hope to find under the tree this year.

Although, without wishing to be ungrateful, there are still outstanding items from last year’s list. I am assuming that you’ll be delivering them this year, yes? Just to remind you, I’m still waiting for my working Iron Man suit and a snog off of the real Thor. If you don’t deliver this year, I’ll have to stop believing in you and send next year’s list to Amazon.

Yours With Jingle Bells
Aged 39 and five quarters.
PS: A very, very Merry Christmas and a happy, creative, successful 2014 to all the other boys and girls out there in Writer-land.