Jed Mercurio

Top writers discuss their craft: “First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written"

Reece Shearsmith, Jed Mercurio, Melvyn Bragg (Chair), Heidi Thomas and Steve Pemberton (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Melvyn Bragg was talking at a special live edition of The South Bank Show, featuring four of the UK’s leading TV writers – Jed Mercurio (writer and creator of hit police corruption thriller Line of Duty); Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith (black comedy anthology Inside No. 9); and Heidi Thomas (period drama Call the Midwife) – discussing their craft.

Line of Duty creators share what to expect in season five

Panellists Adrian Dunbar, Priscilla Parish, Anne Robinson, Simon Heath and Jed Mercurio (Credit: RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)

Speaking at an Anatomy of a Hit event dedicated to the police corruption series, Mercurio revealed he has written the first couple of episodes of season five, which is due to air next year.

He said of the next series: “It feels like things we haven’t done before, characters we haven’t seen before and that’s part of the construction of the series; the architecture that allows us to rejuvenate the format.

Jed Mercurio's advice for screenwriters

Line of Duty (Credit: BBC)

Now's a great time to get into writing for TV. There have never been more opportunities for scripted programming. To stand out from the crowd, an idea should seem original and distinctive.

While the breadth of programming has increased, the traditional formats have remained dominant. Your writing should fit the standard models for a mini-series, a serial or an episodic series; 30 minutes for comedy, 60 minutes for drama.