Screenwriting (4)

2000

My script for Costa Brava in turn became a writing sample and it was sent to Miriam Segal, who summoned me to the tiny office of her production company in Queen’s Park and talked to me about her idea for a soap-like tv drama set in Ayia Napa. My lack of enthusiasm was perhaps too evident, so conversation moved on, over subsequent meetings, to her colleague Tony Dennis’s idea about a Jamaican who comes to London to investigate the death of his wife, whose taxi-driver dad he reluctantly teams up with. Why me? could have been my answer (I did live in Dalston, at the time…). But I was a can-do screenwriter. I thought of something to say.

I wrote a first draft of Prince’s Kingdom (NOT my idea for a title. A prince would have a principality, surely?). In time, it worked its way up the BBC. (It must have been 2001 by now because it was Tony Dennis who rang me one Monday morning, when I was at home looking after my 7-month-old son, and told me that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Centre.)

Word came back that the BBC would commission if we could cast as the taxi driver one of a list of three: David Jason, Warren Clarke or David Suchet, then riding high in the Trollope adaptation The Way We Live Now. We met Suchet at a club in Shaftesbury Avenue and the only thing I remember him saying was that he didn’t want his character to swear at all, which bearing in mind he was a taxi driver, wasn’t necessarily the obvious response. Tho it could have been interesting…

We went on, encouraged – until the moment when Suchet starred in a new, modern-day series on the BBC: NCS Manhunt. It didn’t do well. The word came down: David Suchet was henceforth only castable in period drama. And that was that.

But by then I apparently got on well with Miriam, who ran the production company, and she asked me if I’d ever seen a play called Good – which, amazingly, I had! (With Alan Howard at the Aldwych in 1982, only because my father didn’t want to. I was 18.) So that’s why Good – 18 drafts later – became my first produced screenplay…

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strokeofbadluck

I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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