Philomena

Jeff Pope reflects on his TV career in screenwriting

Martin Freeman in A Confession (Credit: ITV)

You could be forgiven for thinking that Jeff Pope was obsessed by the macabre. Why else would he be drawn to such odious topics as the Moors murders, serial killer Fred West or Britain’s last hangman, Albert Pierrepoint?

He puts it like this: “If drama is about conflict, which it is, you’re looking for the extremes of conflict. Those areas are love, fate and, I would argue, crime.

“I am not a depressive person or ghoulish but it’s the old journalist in me: there’s a good story in it.”

Jeff Pope discusses writing drama and looks back at his life in TV

Caroline Frost and Jeff Pope (Credit: Phil Lewis/Media24)

Speaking to the RTS he said: “It meant that people came to me with their ideas. Steve Coogan came to me with Philomena (Coogan and Pope’s screenplay was nominated for an Oscar and won best screenplay at the Venice Film Festival).

“Success gets you meetings, but it still doesn’t get something past the finishing line if it’s not good enough…It also means you can be more ambitious and more expansive.”