Waterloo Road and Call the Midwife writer Lisa Holdsworth revealed how she has had “to check my privilege in the light of Black Lives Matter” during an illuminating interview for RTS Yorkshire.
The Chair of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain said: “It’s very easy to think that we’re a lovely, right-on industry with no unconscious bias. That it’s a meritocracy and whatever you do, as long as you’re writing good stuff, you’re going to get the job. It’s simply not true.”
Holdsworth was discussing her career and the state of UK drama with RTS Yorkshire Chair Fiona Thompson.
Her break came almost two decades ago when Kay Mellor asked her to write an episode of ITV drama Fat Friends, which she described as her “sink or swim moment”.
Holdsworth was part of the Emmerdale writing team and went on to pen many popular dramas, including New Tricks. In an episode of Midsomer Murders, she famously knocked off Martine McCutcheon’s character with a large wheel of cheese.
During and since lockdown Holdsworth has been scripting the third series of Sky One drama A Discovery of Witches. “Writing has become easier, but it was really tough to concentrate during the first couple of weeks [of lockdown] because of the stress: the news; will I get it; will people I love get it; will we have an industry to go back to?”
Discussing TV drama, Holdsworth said she is frustrated with commissioners’ “obsession with high jeopardy stakes – the bomb on the train, the body in the skip. I really miss drama that is about high emotional stakes.
“That kind of drama is sorely missing from UK television at the moment. We get it in the soaps, but even the soaps are regularly dropping trains off viaducts or blowing up pubs – I’ve been guilty of it myself when I was [writing for] Emmerdale.
Holdsworth said it was “very difficult” to get your first break as a writer in television – “It’s still, in this country, not what you know but who you know.”
She added: “I talk to a lot of people who call themselves aspiring writers. I say to them, ‘If you finish something, you are a writer.’ You might not be a good one. but you’re a writer because so many people never get past the third page or buying the stationery.”
The interview with Lisa Holdsworth can be viewed here: