Monday, October 30, 2006

Won't you spare me over til another year?

If I was a character in the GURPS roleplaying game (bear with me*) my character advantages of having Fabulous Hair (it's growing back now) and Pleasing Height would have been paid for with the character flaws Too Much Imagination and Constantly Getting Distracted by Things.

I'm currently really quite distracted because I have three different scripty things that have hit hiatus at the same time and are now drifting languidly in the realm of Waiting For People To Get Back To Me.

Waiting For People To Get Back To Me Thing One is a sitcom based sort of a bit on the blog, which is based sort of a bit on actually me, only with more guns. It has now gone off to the television channel who paid me to write it, so they're having a think about whether they want to make a pilot episode. Because it is based sort of a bit on me, I am quite emotionally involved with the project and consequently a bit distracted.

Waiting For People To Get Back To Me Thing Two is a treatment for a drama series I have come up with, about being a teenager in Cornwall. It has now gone off to another television channel who are having a big think about whether they're going to pay me to write a proper actual script. Because I was a teenager in Cornwall for a significant part of my life I am quite emotionally involved with the project and consequently a bit distracted.

Waiting For People To Get Back To Me Thing Three is a film script about superheroes, which the Film Council liked, and might be paying me to do a redraft, as although the script is mostly brilliant, the end could be more exciting. Because I am a superhero, I am quite emotionally involved with the project and consequently a bit distracted.

So, anyway, I was in Pizza Express, being a bit distracted, and thinking blimey, these are all ideas I've come up with, on my own and everything, when a dark shadow fell over me, and when I looked up, a forkful of tiramisu perfectly equidistant between plate and mouth, it was with no little surprise that I saw Death standing over me, his bony skull visible under a black hooded robe. Blank eye sockets bore into my own, and an empty bucket was thrust just under my face.

Now obviously, it's Halloween, but because I'm not fucking american, and I was, as I may have said, a bit distracted, my internal thought process went like this:


Externally however, I vocalised said thoughts like this:


A lump of tiramisu slid from my fork and landed, plop, back on my plate.

And then Death rattled his bucket rather impatiently, and I realised it was just someone in a costume, so I told them I didn't have any money. There was another Death on the other side of the room as well, and a smaller Death, robes brushing the floor, but everyone was more or less ignoring them, so in the end they wandered out, although they didn't say a word the whole time, which was quite impressive.

Anyway, the whole thing freaked me out. But I'm okay now. Honestly though, I don't deal with this sort of thing well. Good costumes though.

* There's a bear with me! Argh! Run!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

OMG shoes

It's funny because it's sweary.

Although Songs about weapons for children is possibly better. Maybe you have to be in the right mood.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mmm... lichen.

The tragic thing about comedy writers is that they very rarely get to make proper jokes themselves, so when you do, it is a big day for everyone.


PATCH: So we'll be meeting my cousin for a meal, and her boyfriend Hugo's coming, who's Norwegian.

ME: What does he do?

PATCH: He studies reindeer movements.

ME: (QUICK AS AN ACTUAL FLASH) Won't take long, they're basically just (makes galloping motion) with the occasional (tosses antlered head).


PATCH: Yes, very good.

ME: Hahhahahaha! I am comedy.

Five minutes later I get Patch to tell me about Hugo again, so I can make the same joke.

If anyone else out there knows someone who is studying reindeer movements, they can use the joke too. It is an Open Source Reindeer Joke.

Monday, October 23, 2006

It had a steel claw!

Not the Steel Claw, but never mind. I thought the first episode of Torchwood was pretty good. The Cardiff setting works well, the script was tight, and the ending was * *** ** * *******. Didn't like the way every third scene was wildly over-lit, and that shot of Captain Jack standing on top of high building in the style of Buffy's boyfried/a Batman was a little bit too cheesy, but I'll definitely be watching more: not something I thought after seeing the first eps of the new Who (either series) or Robin Hood.

Full disclosure: my agent sent off scripts of mine to Who, Robin Hood and Torchwood, in each instance long before the series was actually screened. Never heard anything back from any of them, so one tends to get a bit emotionally invested in the viewing of the first episode of each of these. In this particular instance my feelings were of renewed annoyance I never heard anything back along with: 'hmm' and 'Ooh, I wonder if one of those things in the background could be a-' which usually bodes well.

In some of the other viewings of course, my feelings could be described as 'enormous relief'.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Patroclocast Uno

Patroclus has returned!* She's bumped all her stuff over to Quadrireme. Celebrate her being-backness by listening to the Patroclocast, which has a song by Tilly and the Wall, who are quite quite marvellous, and whose songs are darker in tone than any band whose percussion section consists entirely of tapdancers has any right to be.

It's got other stuff as well. I was the one who introduced her to Barry Adamson, so I'd like full credit for that please. If the actor who gets cast for my spy/blog sitcom is the right colour, I can use Barry's cover of the 007 theme, called 'Bond is Black', but if he's not, I won't.

* I didn't only just notice she was back, but I was busy worrying about Alan. Prioritahs.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Duke of Sucre III: the liveblog

5:10 - Wake up. No sign of Alan. Feel oddly relieved.

10:01 - Get into office - still no sign of Alan.

10:27 - Consider walking past office where Alan might be.

10:28 - Worry I might be taking this too far.

10:30 - Nah, he's not there.

10:34 - Maybe he's poorly.

10:35 - Mmm... almond croissant.

10:40 - Realize the sweet sweet pasty only makes me think of Alan more.

10:41 - Typing 'Alan more' makes me think of 'Alan Moore'. Shall I get that 'Lost Girls' thing he's just done? Dunno, looks a bit pervy. And quite expensive.

11:14 - Mournfully hum 'Superman' theme to self. No Alan.

11:15 - Start to worry about being banned from Talkback. Fuck it, they only make programmes about houses these days anyway.

12:05 - A tee-shirted man comes into office 'looking for sugar...' It's commenter Pugh! He reports no sign of Alan. Or his 'big car'. The plot thickens (with sugar).

13:44 - Confirm that Alan is not in Richard's Megastore (GW2 top place in the TV DVD charts), or nearby eaterie Julia's Meadow. AlCon now set at 'Reduced Sugar'.

14.20- He's not in the lego department in Hamley's either.

15.06 - Producer asks if I've sent scenes bundled as one document, to producer's mac address. In fact I have sent scenes individually to a different address. Oh Alan, why hast thou forsaken me?

16:49 - No Alan.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Duke of Sucre II

I've just encountered Alan Sugar again. I wasn't singing this time, and I turned the corner into the Talkback foyer, and nearly bumped into him for the second time this week. This time he more sort of frowned at me a bit (possibly because he'd got a little bit too used to me derderderring the Superman theme at him), and didn't seem terribly keen on moving aside to let me pass, despite the fact that he was standing rather in the centre of the foyer taking up quite a lot of ergonomic space.

This is not the Alan I am used to. The frowning takes him back down to zero, but the be-grudging move nudges him, I'm afraid, into the arena of the karmically unsound.

Still, I'm in again tomorrow, so AS has every chance to redeem himself, perhaps with a small gift left on my desk, hint hint. Or a thousand pounds haha actually he's probably heard that one before.

Let us see how this develops.

UPDATE: comments thread now contains a variety of games suitable for Talback-based Alans. Readers, do YOU have a game based on a popular phrase containing the word 'Sugar?' Why not add it below.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Duke of Sucre

On the way into the office this morning I was humming the theme to 'Superman' (because there's a song on a Sufjan Stevens album called 'Man of Steel' or something), and I got to the 'da da DAAAAA!' bit, and turned right, and realized I had gone 'da da DAAAAA!' into the face of Alan Sugar.

He smiled at me bemusedly, and I kept going for a bit (it occured to me that his show, 'The Dragon's Apprentice Factor' is based in the old Green Wing offices now, so I suppose we could have had a chat, I could have given him a bit of advice on where the spare key for the stationery cupboard is), then I thought about turning back and explaining that I wasn't singing the Superman theme at him, I don't think he's like Superman in any way, and the smile he gave me made me think perhaps he thought I thought he was in some way a Superman to me, which he isn't. Clearly he is more of a mini-Lex Luthor, and if I think of him (Alan) at all, which I hadn't up until that point, that is how I would shelve him, mentally.

(The original Superman, by the way, back when he started in the nineteen hrumpties, used to smash up evil slumlords, wifebeaters, corrupt politicians and smarmy businessmen, although that's obviously a bit dodgy at the moment, with the current goverment, so currently he seems to be sticking to alien fiends and evil versions of himself).

But then I thought, well, I don't know him at all, and it's not fair to be rude to someone based on the fact that they smiled at you in the street, so instead I picked up my pace again and went on my way, and in fact, for smiling at a stranger in a foyer, Alan Sugar, I salute you.

UPDATE: oh, apparently he's not that nice. Tch.


Patroclus tried to do something clever with her blog and move it somewhere else, only that didn't work, so the blog is currently in limbo, and quinquireme dot blogspot dot com seems to link to a pervy search engine. So you might want to remove your links there, and I'll put up her new address when she sorts it out...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Daddy, what were you doing during the Television Wars?*

Thought I'd bump this from the comments section of the previous post, where it might get a bit lost.

In response to this question for patroclus from cello:

Qu'est-ce qu'il ya P? I just thought I detected a sly dig at TV. You know you're a bit susceptible to that. 

And given whose blog this is, and how a TV programme is at least partly responsible for your current state of bliss, it seemed a little unjust. 

But apologies if I was being over-touchy. I am starting to get paranoid, seeing telly-haters under every bed. Maybe I should start a McCarthyesque campaign to rid the country of TV detractors.

I steamed in with:

I'm not even sure what counts as 'television' these days. Does watching imported DVD's on my laptop in bed count? Because that's all stuff I choose to watch, so it's mostly great.

I genuinely can't remember the last time I watched television as transmitted. I have a dim recollection of flickin g through the four channels I can get, screaming with rage and frustration and then going to do something else instead.

I can certainly imagine not bothering to get an actual television set, the next time I move. Might get a DVD projector if I can afford it though.

...and patroclus herself then came back with:

Ooh, no, I wasn't having a go at telly. I was just referring to the fact that big chunks of script had started appearing in this here comments box.

But on the other hand, the last time I turned the actual telly on (rather than watching a DVD) was to watch the last ep of GW back in May, so James also has a point. People *are* still watching telly, it's just they're watching it in DVD form, or as clips on YouTube, or as illegal downloads of stuff that's not available here yet. 

So when C4 (for example) thinks that twenty- and thirtysomethings aren't watching its quality Friday night programming, it's not that they aren't watching it, it's just that they aren't watching it on the TV set on a Friday night. 

And with the actual telly, it's just too difficult to identify the good stuff among the 8,000 channels of rubbish. It's a chore even to flick through the Sky menu, there's just so much...

Ooh, bit of a tirade there.

So, throwing it open local-radio-stylee, how much do you hip young(ish) blog commenters watch actual traditional telly?

* sadly, the answer would get me into trouble. But it's quite rude.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It had a kind of primitive punchcard system

I have been asked: "Which ep of series 2 had the jacquard loom in it?"

Not a clue. Does anyone know? For me, it was the sheer BRILLIANTNESS OF THE WRITING in that scene that made the rest of the episode around it quiver and fade like the morning mist, which is why I can't remember which episode it was. Are the keyring bits in that episode? I wrote both of them too, yes yes, you may touch me. But not there.

UPDATE: skeadugenga reckons episode 4 for the jacquard loom, which sounds about right, cheers.

Also, Katy from Titan Books has asked me to remind people that Green Wing The Complete Series 1 Scripts book was written by Victoria Pile, Robert Harley, Gary Howe, Stuart Kenworthy, Oriane Messina, Richard Preddy, Fay Rusling and James Henry, it contains all the scripts from series 1, as well as great new bonus material written exclusively for the book, and scores of colour photos. 320pp; £14.99 paperback; Titan Books. Available from all good high street bookshops, plus online from amazon and play from the 22nd October.

This is the day after I put up the Ad-Free Blog thing over on the right, but I reckon it's okay if it's my own stuff. Well, shared with the other writers, but you know what I mean.

ALSO, I left my camera behind in London, which is a shame, as the posterboard thing for the local paper says 'Locals Support Depp Freedom', which is great, but just slightly too self-aware to be up there with "The Bushes: What's Going On In Them?".

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Talent Thief

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
My good chum Alex has his first kid's book out - it's called The Talent Thief, and it's a cracking read, and on offer with amazon at the moment, so go and buy it now, to support Cornish writers everywhere. Well, in this case specifically Alex, but I'm hoping the largesse will spill over.

It's great knowing another writer in Cornwall - Alex has done his fair share of kid's telly as well (at one point being considered the 'go to guy' for any series involving animated footballs, which is possibly what made him shout 'aaaargh' and go and write a great spooky thriller for kids instead), so we can have those proper bitchy moaning conversations, where you don't even have to say the whole sentence, just name a well-known production company or producer or actor and hear the groans of recognition and/or hatred. Alex also said to me the immortal words: 'well of course, you can only really get about three and a half hours of good writing in any one day, so there's no need to spend too long fretting about it it'. Yay Alex.

Hello to all the blogging people I met last week, in the whirl of social events that I... whirled through. Sorry, I'm tired. But you were all lovely.

I also had a fabulous dinner with (amongst others) the marketing head of a not-huge, but highly prestigious broadcasting channel who, after a right chat about blogs, looked me in the eye and said 'so have you got a blog then?'

What's this? This thing here, just visible when I look down? Oh look, it's a knife in my heart.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I didn't like being a consumer anyway.

The problem with maintaining a strategy that requires you to move on every time you are a) ignored by more than three members of staff in an almost empty shop or b) treated like a moron, is that eventually you will run out of mobile phone shops in Chiswick.

Also: a 'video flyer' for 7 Seconds of Love Saturday 7th October at the Borderline. Lots of young people having fun. But don't let that put you off.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Quite a long post about that new Aaron Sorkin thing.

Americans care a great deal about what we British-style people think of them. We are the Greeks to their Romans. Or possibly we're Greasy about their Roamings, I get confused.

Any-old-way, Aaron Sorkin, who wrote West Wing and A Few Good Men, apparently gets asked all the time at parties whether he's really one of the writers behind Green Wing, and he probably sighs and stares at his canape, which is odd, because the same thing regularly happens to me, only the other way round, and with chips. I have begun to suspect that Mister Sorkin became drawn into the world of the comedy writer though this repeated mistake. 'Another show with Wing' in the title', he probably thought, 'Hmm', and decided to google it, and if he came across this blog and realised that comedy writing was in itself an highly dramatic and also occasionally humorous subject for a television show, who am I to begrudge him taking my life and turning it into telly for Americans in a 'show' called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip?

I myself have been talking to Channel 4 about developing a televisual showing based on the dramatic and also occasionally humorous events of this blog (true), but so as not to step on Mister Sorkin's toes, I decided that I would keep most of the details accurate, but instead of being a comedy writer, I would make myself a top cool secret agent with guns who also keeps a blog. Which isn't that big a change, because if I ever had the opportunity to run through baddie-filled warehouses in slow-motion whilst holding a gun in each hand I could totally do it.

But I digress, and it is unfair to overshadow Mister Sorkin with my own massive talent and fableous hair (although in photos his hair looks fine, anyway, it's not a competition). Now, I had begun to suspect that Mister Sorkin was trying to contact me discreetly to ascertain my opinion on his American works thus far, through coded references to Bob the Builder made by President Bartlett (and quite a subtle Planet Cook nod in A Few Good Men, but you really had to look for that one).

So, when the first couple of episodes of Studio 60 were mysteriously left in a mysterious location (which rhymes with 'blimternet') for me to 'happen upon', I decided that maybe I should take time out from my schedule of thinking/lying down, and give Mister Sorkin the validation he so clearly needs.


1. American comedy writers are paid a lot more than british ones. Not just one and a half times as much, either, or two times as much and a free bus ticket. American writers have so much money they can afford to have nice clothes and had problems from eating too much cocaine. I have never been offered drugs whilst I worked in television, which makes me wonder sometimes, in the middle of the night, if I am not actually very important in the grand scheme of Television Things. In fact I have been offered cocaine only once, at a party for some retired music therapists, which made cocaine seem frankly not a very cool drug. I didn't take it anyway. Don't do drugs, kids.

2. When American networks have to announce a big change to a show, American journalists sit round quietly and wait for the important lady to stop talking, before asking insightful and probing, but basically respectful questions. Were similar announcements to be made in Britain, I strongly suspect journalists' questions tend to be along the lines of 'Where the free booze you promised us?' 'Why is your program so shit?' 'Why haven't you resigned yet?' and the more enigmatic 'Your face my arse'. To be honest though, the British way is probably better, and if Brighton was washed away by a big storm in which thousands of people died and the people supposed to be in charge weren't, and the people supposed to help didn't, the authorities would probably not have got away with it. But America is a different country with different traditions, and we should respect that.

3. Some American comedy actresses are Christians. Well that happens here, but it's mostly quite discreet. This lead into the next bit...

4. Before a big live show, all the comedy writers and comedy actors and actresses hold hands and have a big prayer. Now your reaction to this might be, as mine was, ew gross, no way, I'd rather be punched in the face etc, but hang on for a moment. What if before a taping of The Friday Night Project or something with Jimmy Carr in, all the participants had to look each other in the face and think, really think about whether there was an afterlife, and if so, would their actions be accountable in it? I reckon Friday night telly would get a lot better. So, Good One Americans.

5. American writers and actresses sleep together. I thought this was a deliberately surreal streak, but then in America, the line between writers and producers is more blurry, and marked out with million dollar bills, so it sort of makes sense. Note that I am not calling actresses ladyho's. Although some of them get their baps out for cash. And sometimes have sex on camera for more cash, so it's a tricky call. But then I just did some scripts for viral adverts for a mobile phone and internal comedy sketches for a bank a few weeks ago, next to which being a big 'ho seems quite a noble profession. Anyway, actresses are not ladyho's, or if they are, so are actors and writers as well. I might delete this bit later, it got away from me somewhat.

6. American Men Television Executives are shallow, scheming and a bit odd-looking, whilst American Lady Television Executives are principled, honest and beautiful in a dignified way with great fashion sense (viewing companion became somewhat detached from the narrative at this point trying to work out where American Lady Television Executive got her skirt from, ah bless). Fortunately this is exactly how it is in the British Television industry as well, so top marks Mister Sorkin.

7. American Comedy Writers have a board with their ideas on. This is mostly empty, and quite often someone changes their mind and takes down two of the three existing ideas, and everyone sighs. This too is also true over here.

SO IN CONCLUSION: I want more money.

Don't forget: GW assistant producer Patrick's band 7 Seconds of Love playing at the Borderline off Charing Cross Road Saturday 7th October, doors open 7ish.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

7 Seconds of Love

Which is the band of Patrick, who was the assistant to the producer of Green Wing, and basically put up with me phoning him at all hours to whinge about stuff that wasn't his fault (breathe) and thus I think everyone should be going to the Borderline off Charing Cross Road this Saturday to see them do their funky ska-type stuff.

I will be going, and Miss P will be going, and other people will be going as well, so if you're in popping-along distance, you should go too, so that Patrick can show you the meaning of Rock.

There are proper links and that to do, but I'll put them up later, or I'll never get round to this, and I want loads of people to go.

UPDATE: there, I linked the word 'band'. Exhausted now. But I think it might be a nice blogging meet style green wing crossover thing if people are up for it. I mean, you know, whatever.

GW DVD signing

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
I thought I'd go along to the GW series 2 DVD signing, just to see what it was like, and oh dear god, the screaming! The fainting! The smell! Fortunately everyone knows what actors are like when their agents aren't around, so the fans were very forgiving.

See what I did there? I turned the whole thing around. Keep an eye out for that sort of thing if you're new to the blog, there's plenty more where that came from.

But yes, um, quite a lot of people, past whom me and Green Wing Richard were whisked, to stand at the front* and be coronated with little plastic passes by the PR team. It was very like the end bit of the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, except with Mark Heap mouthing 'wanker' at me. And then when I barged in front of a paying fan to get a script signed for charity, Julian Rhind-Tutt pointed at me and said 'Look, a nutter jumping in! He is from Nuttsville, I'll be bound!'. This was actually quite dangerous, as heavy security guards had already decided they didn't like me, and behind me were ONE MILLION rabid Mac fans who would happily have torn me limb from limb at the merest gesture from their ginger love god.

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.

Anyway, the paying fans didn't mind me jumping in, which was good, and Television's Doctor Mac then took pity on me and told them that I was a writer, and one fan also took pity on me and asked me to sign her DVD, so I did, which felt brilliant, and I was insufferable for the rest of the evening.

My favourite bit was when Stephen Mangan stood up, generating an unearthly high-pitched wailing chorus from the queueing fangirls**, which then turned into a disappointed rumbling moan when he sat down again. However Stephen is very modest, so he probably just thought there was something wrong with his chair.

And then I got back and watched the making-of documentary on the DVD, to discover that the stuff I had done and had been told would be in it was in fact not in it, but that the very short bit that had supposedly been taken out because I was making fun of the actors was in fact in. Showbusiness is a funny old contrary old business and no mistake crikey blimey.

* Where I took loads of photos of the actors, as my turning up had coincided with the official press photo moment thing opportunity, and as all photographers are pale Cockneys whose growth has been stunted by years of living on jellied eels and silver buttons, I was able to stand behind them and snap over the tops of their pasty heads quite happily. Sadly all the photos but one came out blurred, I suspect because my hands were trembling with rage and jealousy, but there we are.

** I'm worried this looks a bit patronising, so from now on I shall refer to all Steve Appreciators as 'The Manganettes'.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Back in London

rubbish dragon
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
I forgot to add this earlier, there were a couple of rubbish dragons sticking out of the top level of Tallin's Town Hall. I like them, I think any building would be improved by them, and I foresee half-hearted mythical knick-knackery nailed up all over town halls by the end of the year. Bagsy a one-legged Thor for Falmouth. Later this week I may go and balance a papier-mache basilisk on the pinnacle of the British Library . I've always wanted an excuse.

We forgave The Wanderer his wanderings in the end, as it turned out his phone had been stolen, and when he paid for a taxi to take him back to the ferry terminal to get the last boat home (the one we got), he was taken to the wrong terminal and had to sleep on plastic chairs for twelve hours. So he suffered enough without me being rude about him on the internet. The big twatter.

More news on Johnny Depp nearly getting the freedom of Falmouth: the town council turned him down on the grounds that it was clearly a big PR stunt by the film company and JD himself would know nothing about it, and were the council to offer JD said freedom, and be like, all 'we love you JD, come and shop in Smiths, and have a pint in Five Degrees West', and there's ample parking at the Gasworks and that', Johnny would be all 'Where? What? What are you talking about?' and the council would realise he didn't love them after all, and run home crying.

I'm paraphrasing, but that's roughly what they meant. Still he's welcome to stay at mine if he's desperate, I can move the boardgames off the spare bed and then we can go through comics together and I can show him which ones he'd be good at starring in the films of (Iron Man, and maybe even Doctor Strange, but I still reckon Jeff Goldblum would be best for that one).

Also, looking at that link thing, just noticed:

"...Falmouth town council member Mike Varney told local newspaper The Falmouth Packet: "I welcome the association with the film but that's as far as it should go. I do not like the idea of the council selling its soul just for publicity. There are many other people who are residents of Falmouth who are more deserving of such an honour and we don't want to impinge on the positions of freeman and honorary freeman of the town that already exist."

OMG!!! He means me!

This will come in very handy when I look for a new flat.