03 April, 2007

Bert Coules, Writing for Radio, interview

Pillock's Pad

"I worked for a while as a reader in the BBC's Script Unit, working my way through unsolicited plays (of which hundreds arrived every week). More than anything else, I wanted to open a manuscript and find a gripping, entertaining, well-crafted piece of work. And the people above me, the commissioning editors and the producers, wanted the same thing. The sadness is that it hardly ever happened. Most of what's submitted is *awful*. And scripts that were good often ruled themselves out on the grounds of their content, their subject-matter, their language. I must have read well over a thousand plays in my spell in the Unit. I think *three* of them finally got bought and made."


Bert Coules said...

I'm flattered that you think my words worthy of reposting but I'm sorry that you felt no need to add the remainder of the paragraph which paints a rather less bleak picture:

"But don't be discouraged. Learn from that. Learn that it's not enough to be good. Your script has to be *what they want* and *what they can use* as well. Be groundbreaking by all means but always bear in mind the practical limits: don't send Radio 4 your five-hour musical version of the Trojan wars, with a cast of thousands and language that would make a rock star blush. Even if it's the finest thing ever to leave a word-processor, they're not going to buy it. But send in a thirty-minute two-hander with sparkling dialogue, compelling characters and a plot that will keep people listening to the end, and you might just make a sale."

Bert Coules

Robin Kelly said...

I was hoping people would click through and read the whole thing but perhaps that edited quote would have made them give up in despair instead. ;-)