Friday, 1 February 2008

20 September 2008

I've just had the paperwork through.

My first episode of Casualty will be broadcast (fingers crossed) on 20 September.

And I know what happens! Well, I know what the powers-that-be have decided will be happening amongst the regular cast members (and it's exciting stuff, let me tell you). All I've got to do now is come up with some guest stories and accidents to go with it.

And then write it.

Easy really.


TonyB said...

Sounds simple enough ;)

I'm actually feeling nervous on your behalf! It must be rather daunting having a TX date for something you've not yet written (gulp).

Anyway, you've proved you can do it so all will be well!

I've been watching Casualty since its early days and I'd say that you've joined at a very good time. It's gone back to what made it powerful in the beginning - sparky and political rather than silly and soapy.

I think that it still suffers from 'character implausibility' - characters acting out of character in order to shoehorn either the story of the day or the prevailing series arc on to them.

There again, probably most if not all continuing drama suffers from this phenomenon to a certain extent. It's the nature of the beast.

Best of luck!

John said...

Well done! I've been following your progress through the academy in this blog (lucky you!!) and it must be great to be at this point, getting the outline through and getting ready to start. So, a question. You said they've told you what the character arc stuff should be for you episode and that you've got to come up with the guest stories and accidents. Is that how it works? You have pretty much free reign on the episode as far as the guest story/accidents go?

Oli said...

How does it feel having an air date for something you haven't written yet? My guess would be inspiring/terrifying, depending on your mood.

Paul Campbell said...

Thanks, guys.

Tony - Yeah, I think Casualty's in a good place at the moment. All the more scary that they're entrusting 50 minutes of it to me!

John - I have piece of paper which sets out a main A story together with B, C and D stories of less significance. I also have a note of a few other ongoing elements that need to be kept in people's mind or seeded for future episodes. And I know what the serial element for every episode from now until the middle of November looks like, so I know where the characters will be coming from and where they're going.

So, my job is to work out the best way to tell those 4 stories in 50 minutes and to introduce 3 or 4 "guest stories" to complement them. The normal technique is to take the protagonist of each of the serial stories and give them each a patient to deal with. The patients' stories and regulars' stories then intertwine and bounce off each other. There are variations, but that's the basic pattern. So, I need to find a reason for getting 3 or 4 people into ED and find some interesting stories to tell for them.

Oli - the BBC will be transmitting an episode of Casualty on 20 September (barring global turmoil). It will be mine and it will be good, it'll be mine and it'll be less good, or it'll be someone else's because I've cocked it up so badly they've had to bring in another writer. But that transmission date is getting closer by the second and, one way or another, they'll find something to broadcast. I just hope to God I can keep my balance on the conveyor belt.

TonyB said...

Thanks for your reply. It sounds like you have a good deal of freedom in the guest stories you create. Do you have any guidelines in terms of scope and scale? I'm thinking of the budget (still wearing my production hat!).

You may have a great idea for an alien invasion for instance, in which Charlie returns in a blaze of glory having conquered the invaders, but the budget might only stretch to a lollipop lady being stung by a bee (or bitten by a rogue guinea pig in case Potdoll's reading this ;).

Also, are you given a master list of accidents/diseases they've already done in order to avoid repetition?

Paul Campbell said...


No real guidelines for scope and scale except that they tell you roughly how many guest actors they'd expect to see in a normal episode, and they like to have one major stunt each time. Basically, I think the guidance is - if you can persuade them, then they'll do it.

An there's no master list that I'm aware of. Doctors used to have one, but seem to have dropped it. Casualty is now in its 22nd year, so it's probably safe to assume that they've done everything that they can show before the watershed. The trick is to make it look new.