How not to hold a meeting


I feel it’s my duty as a writer to pass on the wisdom I’ve gained during my career so far. In particular, I think it’s important to help fellow writers grow and learn from my mistakes – especially when they’re fucking stupid.

And so plentiful.

So here, in chronological order, are the mistakes you want to avoid when taking a meeting with a BBC producer.

Just to set the scene: a friend put me forward as a potential writer for a newly commissioned TV sketch show. I sent in some sketches and one caught the producer’s eye. He sent me a more detailed writer’s brief and I wrote a load more. In the second batch, a sizable proportion were deemed funny/suitable. I was bombarded with ideas and requests for new sketches, a potential commission and a open offer to meet with the producer when I had time.

Here’s how not to proceed*:

  1. Don’t follow up your last triumph with a handful of, frankly, quite shit sketches you’ve dashed out between finishing a movie re-write and falling asleep.
  2. Don’t spend the entire night before in hospital looking after your best friend’s kid.
  3. Don’t get up at bastard early o’clock in the morning to feed your best friend’s other kid.
  4. Don’t arrange meetings for the day before the most important event of your life so far, when all you can think about is the next day and how much impact its success or failure will have on everything you’ve ever known or cared about.§
  5. Don’t attend a meeting immediately beforehand where the project you’re discussing takes a new and unexpected twist which could jump you straight to the top of the pile and leave you working with one of your favourite writers; thus causing you to wander around London deliriously happy and feeling like some kind of script-god.¤
  6. When filling in the BBC visitor’s pass – try not to spell your name wrong.
  7. Don’t, after meeting the producer and being all cheery, suddenly explain you can’t think straight because you’ve been up all night.
  8. Try not to, if at all possible, fall asleep when you’re being shown the taster DVD for the new show.
  9. When the producer mentions how the last batch of sketches didn’t quite hit the mark, try not to refer to them as ‘a pile of shit’. Sometimes, honesty is not the best policy.
  10. If said producer asks you for an opinion – try to have one. It’s preferable to just staring out of the window wondering if that’s a car park or not.
  11. When the producer mentions a particular sketch and wonders if you have any ideas on how to expand it/develop it further – try not to say yes and then go back to looking at the car park.
  12. Don’t ask if you can steal one of their TVs.
  13. When the producer describes a sketch you think is funny, laughing is a more acceptable response than stating “Yes, that’s really funny.” in a monotone voice.
  14. Recognise when the meeting is over – it’s usually just before the ten minutes of silence interrupted by the producer asking you if there’s anything else you want to know.
  15. If there isn’t anything you want to know, thank him and say goodbye immediately. Do not sit for another ten minutes thinking ‘It must be a car park, but why can’t I see any cars?’
  16. On your way out, try not to stare at the turnstile like a fucking simpleton – you’ve seen them before, they’re not that complicated.
  17. Say goodbye once. That’s all it takes.
  18. Once you have said goodbye, leave. It’s over, walk away.
  19. And finally, when you get home and write it all up on the Internet – don’t post a scan of the BBC pass which blatantly tells you to return it to reception.

So there you go – nineteen simple rules which should see you through any meeting and guarantee you don’t look like a fucking brainless moron who’s been on an all night bender.


*Please ignore any double-negatives, you fucking know what I mean you anal tosser.

Actually, you always do this, no matter what the circumstances or time of day/night.

§This one has nothing to do with writing.

¤This one is so unbelievably cool I wish I could tell you about it, but I can’t.

I’m not sure if I did this or not. I think I did, but it may have just been a long blink and a short taster DVD. It’s not my fault, the sofa was sooooooooooooo comfy.

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “How not to hold a meeting

  1. ginger

    Funny how you always manage to make some of the most normal activities (at least, normal for a scriptwriter) sound absolutely hilarious 🙂

    Thanks for the giggles!

  2. No, didn’t hate this post. Which I suppose means you’ve disappointed me, Baron.

    I’d also like to add “20. If someone asks you where you see the story going, have an answer prepared. even if it’s a dirty lie and you know full well you will make it up when you sit down in front of the laptop. Do not stutter whilst making up an answer on the spot, they will be on to you.

  3. Eleanor

    I’ve done that taster DVD thing before.

    Sorry, should have warned you.

  4. Oli – my comment which inspired your disappointment came immediately after my first meeting, where I effectively got offered my own TV series, and immediately before I met the BBC producer.

    In fact, I wrote it in the lobby of the television centre when I was under the impression I was a genius on a roll.

    That’s a delusion I won’t be having for a while.

    Ginger – thank you

    Eleanor – yes you should.

  5. Congrats on the TV gig, sounds aces, hope all goes swimmingly.

    There’s a secret rule of blogging; the minute you have some success, you can’t blog about it for contractual/murphy’s law reasons. Which might give the impression that we’re all moaning bastards because we only blog about our failures.

    Oh course, I only have failures, and I am a moaning bastard. So that works just fine.

  6. Lizzy

    I’m still trying to figure out how you hit yourself in the face with a big bastard sword… did see it coming right? I’m off to continue pondering this…….

  7. Eleanor

    I am in hiding.

  8. Lizzy – I did see it, but it was moving very, very fast.

    Eleanor – witness protection or hide and seek? If it’s the former, they’ve not done a very good job with your new name, since it’s identical to the old one. If it’s the latter, then you might want to get off the net, the screen glow might give you away.

  9. Eleanor

    Get off the net? *shudder*

  10. Dare I ask what’s happened since the Meeting of Somnolence? Or is it too early to know?

  11. Nothing funny, unfortunately.

    I had an email the next day from the producer detailing everything we spoke about, prefaced with:

    “Here’s what we talked about in case your addled brain can’t remember.”

    Which may or may not be a good thing. I’m choosing to believe he recognised I was suffering from a lack of sleep, a mild delusion of godhood and a week of extreme emotional swings – rather than believing he thinks I’m a talentless fuckwit.

  12. Oh, and more importantly – my mate’s kid is alive and well. Everything else kind of pales into insignificance really.

  13. Pingback: Glove Slap « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

  14. Pingback: Not meeting the producers « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

  15. Pingback: The Wrong Door screening « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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