Archive for the What’s happening? Category

What happens in Clun…

Posted in What's happening? on June 13, 2010 by Paul Brannigan

Back to life, back to reality after an intoxicating week at the Arvon Writers Centre where to cut a long story short, I lost my mind.

Late night drinking games recalling the songs of Soul2Soul and early Spandau Ballet gave way to morning hangovers staring at the laptop in search of inspiration. Unfortunately, with no internet connection my usual sources of inspiration were denied me and I was forced to actually do some work.

I was in John Osborne’s slightly spooky old house near the village of Clun in the depths of Deliverance country, Shropshire. No mobile phone signal, no internet, no TV, no radio and no way out (apart from my car but that wouldn’t have been entering into the spirit).

I’ve never really got the point of writers heading into the wilderness but myself and 15 others were there as part of the Writers’ Lab – a great new scheme designed to a boost the careers of produced writers by teaming them up with major players in the TV industry. The purpose of the week was to prepare the project we’re going to develop with our industry mentors for the next 6 months.

Like most writers I’ve had a number of ideas floating around for some time and I was hoping to use this opportunity to give one of them a kick start.

Our guest tutors were the wonderful Tess Morris (My Family) and Julie Rutterford (Ashes to Ashes) – both very funny, insightful and more than happy to share their experience, wisdom and vodka.

I had my tutorial and outlined my ideas. You could hear Tess’s positive feedback training being mugged by her subconscious “Oh, that’s gre… goo… not bad”. Hmm. Not bad. Not bad is not good. Not bad is not pants-wetting. Not bad is not going to get anyone very excited in the corridors of comedy power.

I’ll admit I was a little shell-shocked. But at least I wasn’t alone. The house and grounds were littered with writers wandering aimlessly in a post-tutorial daze. Talented, experienced writers (who also happened to be some of the kindest, wittiest and most amiable people I’ve ever met – why do writers have a reputation for being anti-social?).

Tess and Julie then proceeded to coax a fresh, new and probably much better idea out of me.

I say probably because all writers know that first flush of excitement when they meet a new idea. It’s all giddy laughter and getting-to-know-you walks in the park. You’re enthralled and at that moment the idea seems to be everything you want from an idea.

But then, inevitably as you get to know the idea a bit better you start to become aware of the little imperfections. Those idiosyncrasies that initially seemed so endearing can become irksome and as infatuation gives way to routine you have to decide if you can actually live with this idea day in day out. Do you love it enough to really make the relationship work?  And maybe most importantly – are you right for each other?

Well, I’m about to find out. And just to add a little frisson this is the idea I’m committed to using to sell myself to the great and good in the world of TV comedy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good idea. But I feel like I’ve woken up next to a beautiful stranger the morning after a drunken Vegas wedding. I just hope we can make this thing work.