So last week I had a momentous occasion. Two, really. The first was that I was at the BBC / Massive Events Sherlocked USA convention in Los Angeles as the host – and more of that later – but the second, and more important of the two was that on Friday 26th May ay 1.45pm I became an official BBC Drama Writer when my story ‘To Walk In Her Shoes‘ was aired as the Friday episode of Doctors.
As a fan of the show for many years, it was a great honour to be involved in this, and more so to be given such a pivotal moment for Lorna Laidlaw’s Mrs Tembe, and the BBC were really cool about my story being more of a ‘crime of the week’ style detective story rather than a ‘drama of the day’ concern.
Before I did this, I never knew how long these episodes took or even how much work went into them, and now, having written one I can tell you – it’s a lot. Anyone looking to get into television writing through Doctors? You’re looking at a good eighteen months from start to finish, which is amusing as, several years ago when talking to fellow writer and ex-2000ad editor David Bishop about this at a London Screenwriter’s Festival, he said the exact same amount of time was spent on his first one.
I was also incredibly lucky to be involved in this – I didn’t come through a writer’s room or shadow scheme, and on looking at IMDB I’m the only writer with no previous credits to write an episode in the last year.
(A caveat – I’m one of four first time writers in the last year – but two have ongoing drama credits – Hollyoaks and Casualty, while the third is Ian Midlane, who has played Dr Al Haskey on the show since 2012 and, although writing this as his first credit, has a bit of an advantage, having been in almost 600 episodes.)
But no writer can take the credit for something like this, and I feel I need to thank some people here. First is my friend Mark Corden who, back in 2015 worked in the Doctors production office and, on a June 2015 day while I was in Birmingham, invited me to see the set. This visit allowed me to meet the second person I need to thank, Script Editor Simon Curtis who, after talking to me spent the next eighteen months in contact with me via email and phone, helping me create a trial script that eventually was approved by Peter Lloyd, the Producer of the show and the third person I need to thank. Once this was done (and we’re talking pitches, scene break downs, sample scripts and then the many revisions it takes to get something right), I was finally allowed to actually start the real pitching, something that came to fruition in November, when I was given the May 26th slot to write for.
And again, without both Simon and Peter, this episode would never have been written or even completed. I was very much the fish out of water, and I owe them both big time.
So Doctors has been and gone, and now I look to the future. But to have that BBC credit, to see my name on iPlayer or even Radio Times… it’s an honour.
And if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s still available for a few weeks HERE.