Saturday, 1 December 2007

The BBC Writers' Academy - Love it or hate it?

Regular readers will know that I am rather pleased with myself for being part of the BBC Writers' Academy 2007.

And I think the Academy is rather a good thing.

But is it just good because it's good for me? What if you are trying to get into TV writing and you're not one of the eight chosen each year? What if you're an established writer who feels hounded out by these uppity new Academy writers who have John Yorke's personal stamp of approval?

There's a new blog in town. It's anonymous. And I don't hold that against them. The TV screenwriters behind it clearly feel that the Academy (and a whole lot more of what goes on in BBC Drama) is pushing out the old "comfortable" writers in favour of the new (like me) without thinking through the consequences. And for no reason other than some twisted, desperately wrong-headed, misapplication of what John and others are trying to achieve.

Is this true? Is this the way it's working out there in the real world?

Or are the authors of the new blog just old, crusty, bad writers who have finally been given the heave ho and are a bit peeved as a result?

I really don't know.

Have a read of what they're saying over on "Inside Story". In particular, take a glance at the Blog post called Swimming Lessons and the comments (mainly mine) which follow.


bod said...

Dunno who did that post you linked to.

I read it all.

One thing he clearly hasn't found in his (presumably long) career, is an editor.

Devil's Advocate said...

"Or are the authors of the new blog just old, crusty, bad writers who have finally been given the heave ho and are a bit peeved as a result?"

It's really great that you've been given the opportunity afforded by the Writers' Academy. You've grasped it with both hands and who wouldn't? It's a terrific opportunity.

But, look, if you really think what you wrote there characterises the reality of what's going onm you are way off base. This is getting talked about among most writers who work for BBC serial drama and it's a topic of conversation among agents. The mid-ranks are getting squeezed and what happened to the writers on Casualty was a disgrace.

One day, if you do well, you'll be mid-rank rather than flavour of the month and I hope you remember the words you wrote.

Paul Campbell said...

Hi Devil's Advocate.

Thanks for dropping by.

I think if you look back at my post, I didn't come down on one side or the other. I reported that there was a difference of opinion out there. And I asked the question of whether the reported poor treatment of writers was real or whether it was just sour grapes. I then said, in a separate paragraph just to give it a bit of emphasis, "I really don't know"

And I don't.

Obviously, from where I sit, the Academy is good news. But the reports "from the trenches" worry me. If the reports are exagerations, rumours, misunderstandings and lies, then that's not good. If they're true, then it's a lot worse.

I simply don't have the experience to judge one way or the other.