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
It’s 4pm on a Friday afternoon, a time of the week when most of us are preparing to wind down the working week. Not Gurinder Chadha, co-creator and director of ITV’s new period drama, Beecham House, otherwise known as “Downton in Delhi”.
She’s at work in a Soho edit suite, putting the finishing touches to another project, her latest movie, Blinded by the Light. The film is based on journalist and broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir, Greetings from Bury Park.
Molly Windsor (Cheat), Laura Fraser (The Loch) and Jennifer Spence (You Me Her) are set to join Line of Duty’s Martin Compston in Amelia Bullmore’s (Scott & Bailey) new drama as three forensic scientists who aim to discover the truth behind an unsolved murder.
The crime thriller follows Emma Hedges (Molly Windsor), a new lab assistant who joins the Scottish Institute of Forensic Science and Anatomy (SIFA) and discovers a fictitious case of a murder scene that bares a striking resemblance to memories from her past.
Over the past couple of decades, Stephen Graham has become increasingly hard to avoid on both TV and film. The variety of roles he’s taken on is extraordinary. He can play cops and robbers, modern and period drama, ordinary and larger-than-life characters. He is convincing in all of them.
Otherwise known as the ‘Balaclava Man’, Corbett and Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall) are on AC-12’s wanted list, and set to cause trouble as part of a criminal syndicate connected to police corruption.
BBC One police corruption drama Line of Duty has become renowned for its thrilling plot twists and guest leads.
So, it was no surprise to see so many attend an RTS “Anatomy of a hit” event to hear what writer Jed Mercurio might reveal about what’s in store for the next series.
There is a scientific way to calculate how much a television audience appreciates a show. An “appreciation index” involves panels, scores out of 10, and demographic weighting. Now, however, there is another way: just take note how quickly an audience comes back for more.
When Sky released Lennie James’s drama Save Me (the possessive apostrophe is because he created, wrote and starred in it) as a box set on the last day of February, it took a week for 700,000 viewers to watch all six episodes.
Police drama Line of Duty was the latest TV show to get the RTS Anatomy of a Hit treatment.
Chair Anne Robinson was joined on the panel by:
Jed Mercurio, Creator, writer, director, Executive Producer
Adrian Dunbar, Actor (Superintendent Ted Hastings)
Simon Heath, Executive Producer
Priscilla Parish, Script Executive
Anne Robinson, Chair
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.
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.