Line of Duty

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.

Gurinder Chadha: The relationship between Britain and India didn’t just start in the 1960s

Gurinder Chadha (Credit: Rex Features)

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.

Line of Duty’s Martin Compston joins new drama Traces

Martin Compston as Steve Arnott in Line of Duty (Credit: BBC)

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.

Stephen Graham discusses his career and what advice he'd give to aspiring actors

Stephen Graham (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

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.

Lennie James: taking television to new places

(Credit: Sky)

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.

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.