Day Five

Day Five. The end of the working week looms. I am wearing what I hope is more cheerful attire: a checky shirt. Now that my Kennedys book is read, I have replaced it at my bedside by this, The Oligarchs by Washington Post Moscow correspondent David E. Hoffman. Subtitled Wealth and Power in the New Russia, I started reading it two years ago but it was usurped, as books tend to be. (Funnily enough, I bought the book because I had come up with a sitcom idea involving a Russian oligarch, and the production company I pitched it to passed on it because they already had a sitcom about a Russian oligarch in development. No idea is new.)

Anyway, I was only ever a couple of chapters into it, but found its stories fascinating, so I’ve gone back to the beginning of the chapter I’d marked and I’m back in Perestroika-era Russia. A nice change from the United States, Britain and Israel.

Today I will be forced to conceal details, as I’m involved in a writers’ brainstorming day on a new project, hosted by the production company who are developing it for the BBC. I was asked to go in to meet the producers in September when they were asking various outside writers to give their reactions to an existing pitch document. I gave my thoughts. I was actually paid for my thoughts, with no obligatin on their part to call me back. They have called me back. This is good news. They must have liked me and my ideas. As I’ve stated before and often, as a writer, you spend a lot of time auditioning, except unlike an actor you are sort of auditioning to play yourself: a writer. I really liked the producers – one of whom I’d crossed path with in the late 80s, as good fortune would have it – and I think their idea is a possible hit. I am happy to be involved in its development, but you’ll have to bear with the secrecy.

The meeting is being held at a theatre. I may take a sneaky picture of myself there.

And look, Chris at Go Faster Stripe has sent me some Secret Dancing DVDs. These make me very happy. They’re still selling well, and if you’d like one they are available here. While I’m plugging, if you wish to come to the May 18 performance of Christ On A Bike and/or the live Collings & Herrin Podcast, both being filmed for Richard’s next DVD at London’s Leicester Square Theatre, get your tickets here. These are also selling well. I haven’t seen Richard now for almost two weeks. Am I allowed to say I sort of miss him?

Incidentally, if you got wind of the Andrew Collins Twitter controversy yesterday, I’m going to write about it in a separate blog entry. And while I’m here, this is a graph of my stats for the past week. Look how solidly popular these diary blog entries are. (The left-hand scale indicates “visits.”) This doesn’t mean I can, or will, keep it up – indeed, I’m looking forward to stopping at the end of today – but I will say it’s been a fun experiment, simply to see if I could do it. I used to write day-to-day blog entries on the 6 Music website in 2005, but stopped when I moved over to my own blog in 2006, and although some of those early entries were about mundane, personal things, I pulled up the drawbridge about four or five years ago, and I’m not about to start it again. But writing about my working week seems like a reasonable compromise.

Well, the brainstorming meeting was alright. There were just five of us round the traditional oval conference table: two producers – one of whom came up with the original concept – and three writers. I don’t think it’s betraying any confidences or bringing bad juju upon the project by saying they had hired a meeting room in the Soho Theatre in London’s Soho (where me, Stuart Maconie and David Quantick did the first run-through of Lloyd Cole Knew My Father back in 2001, and where I have seen many great comedy shows, including Stewart Lee and Will Smith). In this photo, you can see some posters behind me advertising shows.

And in the bottom pic, I am holding up the coffee pot. The coffee wasn’t too nice, but we did six hours of brainstorming, basically building a storyline for a potential pilot – actually, I did five, as I was allowed out early in order to get to 6 Music, which was very decent of them. At 1pm, the theatre provided us with lunch, which turned out to be enough sandwiches, wraps, cherry tomatoes, sausages and goujons to feed at least ten people. We did our very best to eat all of both platters, and those that had come to London on trains put the remainder in their bags. We do, after all, work in television, and are thus basically beggars at heart. (We will be begging the BBC to commision a pilot. Any further developments I can veil in secrecy and ambiguity will be passed on as and when. Needless to say: I hope it comes off. Most things don’t. This one should. Which still doesn’t mean it will.)

It’s really hot today. I am wearing a shirt, a hoodie and a soft jacket, and I was wearing a scarf when I left the house this morning. I am way too hot.


6 thoughts on “Day Five

  1. If other people are like me, your readership numbers may actually be even higher than the stats suggest. I normally read the updates via the subscription email, which wouldn’t register as a visit, and only actually come here if I’m going to comment.

    Like this.

  2. I bought a copy of your DVD and sat with my mouth agape at the audacity of it all.

    Actually i really enjoyed it. Well done.

    You do look really nervous on it tho.

  3. Hello Andrew

    How vague typically are initial pitch documents? If you and a number of writers gave input to an initial pitch document in September, and your meeting on Friday involved 2 producers and 3 writers brainstorming a story line for a pilot, I’m curious as to what level of detail could have existed in the pitch document in first place?

    I’m not being facetious, but genuinely interested in the development process.

    • The initial pitch in this case was put together by the creator/writer and the producer, working in conjunction with the production company. They got in a handful of other, outside writers while putting the pitch together and some of their ideas rubbed off on the pitch. The pitch also contained an outline of what one episode, the pilot, would contain.

      Now, the broadcaster has come back with its thoughts, and has asked for another episode breakdown, based on those thoughts. This time, the production company called back three of the writers previously canvassed whom they felt chimed most readily with the project. We “tabled” our ideas and the creator/writer and producer will now go away and write a new pitch and story outline.

      Basically, without giving anything away, the tone wasn’t quite right with the first pitch/breakdown. So we’ve altered the tone.

      The best pitch document sells the idea in one line, or one paragraph. But you have to give a lot of detail about how a show will work, who the characters are, where the story is going etc. so that the broadcast can see that you’ve worked everything through.

      • I understand much better now. I didn’t think a pitch in real-life would simply be ‘Monkey Tennis’ à la Alan Partridge, but your blog entry had left me wondering.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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