Monthly Archives: August 2008

Writing for TV

Earlier this year I said I was getting fed up with low-budget movies and wanted to try and get more TV work. Well, so far, I haven’t.

(The Wrong Door doesn’t count because I did all the writing for that last year.)

A while back, after voicing this opinion (the one about wanting to write for TV, not the one about The Wrong Door) someone asked me which shows I’d like to write for:

“Well, there’s Doctor Who, obviously, and … um … hmm.”

The truth is: I don’t watch that much telly. I don’t really have the time and a lot of the stuff I manage to catch, I don’t like.

I’m not a big fan of soaps, for two reasons:

  1. I don’t watch them regularly and find them difficult to drop into. Because the stories run over many, many weeks – if you don’t know who the characters are then it’s hard to get excited about a tiny fraction of a scene from the middle of the story.
  2. I’m not a big fan of reality on TV. I like my entertainment to be quite far removed from reality. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be dramatic and have human issues at the heart – but I like there to be some element to it which is a bit fantastical. Most of the stuff I see in soaps has happened to me or one of my friends and it wasn’t particularly entertaining at the time.

I’m not passing judgement on the quality or value of these shows – they just don’t really interest me. Reason two also applies to most cops and docs shows. Although I have other issues with hospital dramas – mainly the whole business of creating characters just so you can maim them and have a doctor show compassion for them. It all seems a little cruel.

Mandy loves Casualty and Holby and such like; and on the rare occasion I stay in the room when they’re on I keep thinking about how the writer came up with the storylines:

“Let’s have a little girl who loves to dance and wants to be a ballerina.”

“Yeah, and … ?”

“And then lets run her over with a train and have to amputate her legs.”

“Brilliant! You’re a fucking genius! I love it! Maim that happy little bitch”

Nah, not for me.

So what do I want to write for, seeing a I’ve ruled out just about everything on TV?

I still don’t really know. Although, I have to say I caught an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures the other day and I thought it was brilliant. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be making a vague effort to watch more.

So that makes the list:

Doctor Who
The Sarah Jane Adventures

And that’s it so far.

Pathetic, isn’t it? Must try harder.

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Categories: Industry Musings, Random Witterings | 10 Comments

Wrong Door day

I can’t see out of my right eye. For some reason it’s swollen up so much it’s completely closed.

I don’t know whether I’ve been bitten, got a sty or been inexplicably punched whilst asleep (for anyone thinking of punching anyone, while they’re asleep is the best time); but whatever the reason, I’m viewing the world in a monocular fashion without the benefit of depth perception.

I quite like it.

Apart from the pain.

But, none of that matters because The Wrong Door kicks off today. Tonight to be precise. 10.30 on BBC Three to be even preciser.

Here are some more reviews if anyone cares:

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/entertainment-catch-all/2008/08/23/don-t-miss-86908-20708084/

http://gizmodo.com/5041672/the-wrong-door-if-terry-gilliam-directed-transformers-as-a-tv-variety-show

But hey, feel free to make your own mind up tonight.

Join me, go on, you know you want to; and if you want to totally immerse yourself in the same viewing experience as me – tape one eye closed and jab pins into your face whilst watching.

You know it makes sense.

Categories: Uncategorized | 15 Comments

The perils of owning a touchscreen PC

One week on and I’ve settled in to using a touchscreen computer.

It’s a weird way of working at first because you end up using either hand to touch the screen. Sometimes you type with the other, sometimes you’re combining it with using the mouse – which is kind of like using two mouses but way easier and cooler.

Overall, it’s great and the frustrated smudges on my laptop screen are a testament to how quickly you get used to, and come to rely on, new technology.

There is, however, a downside.Whilst transferring all my files and folders from my old computer, I was idly flicking through the Touchsmart manual and I came across a passage which explained how the touchscreen technology works. Basically, instead of responding to pressure like most touchscreens – a technology which apparently leads to darker screens and which wears out quite quickly – it’s an optical system which fires lasers (or something clever to do with light) all over the screen and then triangulates where your finger is.

All well and good – although I nearly blinded myself trying to peer into the corner of the screen to see the sensors.

Then comes a warning, which I can’t be bothered to hunt out; but it goes something like this:

“It’s dead fucking sensitive this thing so don’t go fucking punching the screen, like. Gentle touch, that’s all this bastard needs. In fact, it’s so responsive a fucking insect could set the fucker off.”

I’m paraphrasing slightly, of course. I think HP used slightly fewer swear words, but the general gist is: a demented bumble bee in the room is a bad thing. One slightly manic moth and you could lose all your work.

Great.

If Brazil was made today, the Tuttle/Buttle error would be because of one of these beauties.

But hey, that’s a small risk compared to the whole touchscreen experience. I don’t get many insects hurling themselves at my screen, so it’s a risk I’m prepared to take.

Then the cat jumped up onto the desk and brushed past the monitor. She accidentally sent fourteen abusive emails, deleted three photo albums and, most surprisingly, wrote a short poem about the futility of buying flip-flops in Kazakhstan.

Is it wrong to be jealous of the writing prowess of my cat’s tail?

What about shaving a cat and nailing it to the wall? Is that wrong?

So, to sum up: If you find yourself struggling to choose between a touchscreen computer and a cat, get the touchscreen and never, ever choose both.

Categories: Random Witterings | 3 Comments

Another Wrong Door review

Four more stars from … um … you know what? I have no idea. It’s from Hello! or OK or one of those big glossy magazines which nobody reads because they only buy them to look at the pictures. It was hard to tell which one because the woman I was trying to wrestle it away from was shrieking a lot and rolling around on the floor.

Still, I managed to tear the page out, it’s a good review and I didn’t even have to bribe the reviewer! Plus, as an added extra Brucie bonus – the photo is of my sketch! Those are my characters posing in costume for whatever magazine it is! Too many exclamation marks in one paragraph!

Just to give a sense of balance, here’s a review which is slightly less positive … no, you know what? Fuck that. Only positive thoughts here.

It was quite a nice experience to peer over someone’s shoulder and see my characters peering back at me. Even nicer that it’s a good review. Although, since they’ve got the dinosaur’s name wrong, perhaps they’re not to be trusted?

Oh fuck it. Four stars, baby!

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Publicity, Sad Bastard, The Wrong Door | 13 Comments

Wrong Door online

Right, so apparently you don’t have to wait a week to see the first episode since it’s already online. You can watch it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wrongdoor/

And sweet fucking Christ, there’s a lot of clever Internet stuff there. More than enough to keep you from doing any real work for at least a day. There’s even a website dedicated to my series of sketches:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wrongdoor/thejudgementalthreecouk/

Oh, and I might have something to do with this too:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wrongdoor/mpie5couk/

But I’m not sure, there seems to have been several people who came up with similar ideas and if it is based on one of my sketches then it’s been moved on a long way since. I’ll have to wait and see.

Speaking of waiting: I’ve already seen the first two episodes at a screening, but since what was then episode 2 now seems to be episode 1 and some of the sketches had an order to them … I’m not sure what this new episode 1 holds.

And now I’m torn. Call me old fashioned, but I want to wait and see the show on the telly. On the other hand … it’s there, taunting me.

Hmm, what’s a guy to do?

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Publicity, The Wrong Door | 7 Comments

Wrong Door, one week to go

The Wrong Door opens, one week today on the 28th at 10.30pm on BBC Three.

Excited? I am.

Here’s the review from Heat:

Pick of the Day, see? Huh, do you see? Do you?

Wait a minute.

Arnopp? ARNOPP? Four Stars?

You bastard, I paid for five!

I want a fifth of my money back.

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Publicity, The Wrong Door | 6 Comments

The desktop saga

For reasons I’m not prepared to go into (because they’re mostly illegal) I’ve ended up running Windows Vista on a desktop which has exactly half the recommended minimum RAM.

For those of you who don’t speak geek – that means it’s completely fucked.

Well, not completely. It works perfectly adequately if, for example, you need a door propped open, want to drop something heavy on someone or desperately require a useless lump which takes up space on your desk without actually being any fucking use whatsoever.

Okay, so I’m being melodramatic. It’s just mind-numbingly slow. So slow in fact I spend, on average, fifty percent of my day staring at it and shouting incoherently. Add to that the burnt out DVD writer (they don’t last forever) and the overheating issue I’ve had from day one, thanks to buying a miraculously cheap computer only to discover it was also miraculously shit, then you have a computer which is not worth repairing.

Okay, so actually it is financially worth repairing, since all those issues could be sorted out for a £100 or so – but that’s not the point. I want a new computer. I want it to be shiny, I want it to be full of toys and I want it now!

So I went to PC World clutching a fist full of money.

Now, long time readers of this blog may remember THE LAPTOP SAGAand how that ultimately turned out. For those who don’t, and can’t be bothered to click and read those three links, here’s a brief summary:

It turned out badly.

I ended up with a gay laptop.

I’ve since come to terms with the gayness of my laptop, but I’m determined not to repeat those mistakes.

Ever, you hear me?

So I went down to PC world calmly clutching a fistful of money.

Can I just add at this point that I was pretty sure I couldn’t afford a new computer right now, not with a new baby in the house; but, bizarrely, Mandy persuaded me I could and even drove me to PC World. Which tells me two things:

  1. I have the best wife in the world.
  2. She’s fed up of listening to me scream at my desktop.

So now buying a new PC is a family outing.

Cool.

I bet Alice can’t wait to tell all her friends. If she had any. Not that she’s unpopular; but, you know, she’s only nine weeks old. Babies don’t really have any friends – at least none who are prepared to listen to tales of daring-do in PC World.

The only problem with buying a new computer is, well, it’s boring. They’re all the same, they all do the same things …

And no, before all you Mac-mentalists wade into the comments with how cool Macs are … they’re not. They do exactly the same things as PCs, so fuck off.

… and buying computers is all about the numbers. Basically you want the highest processor, hard drive and RAM numbers for the lowest price. Although, I’m not going down the cheapest route again. I’ve learnt that lesson time and time again – things are cheap for a reason and the reason is … they’re shit.

No, this time I have a reasonable mid-budget price in mind, about £400-£500 that should do nicely.

After a few minutes scuttling around PC World, committing long strings of numbers to memory while trying to weigh up the difference between a marginally faster processor versus a marginally larger cache … I fall in love.

The HP TouchSmart IQ790.

Touchscreen! It has touchscreen! That means you can literally, touch the screen!

And yes, before you Mac users wade in again, I know you can touch the screen on a Mac whilst pleasuring yourself and muttering sweet nothings; but with this one, touching the screen actually does stuff!

Other than make a sticky mess.

You can open files and stuff, browse the net, move shit around and … oh, just everything, simply using your finger!

True, it’s £200 outside my budget, but who cares? Touchscreen, baby!

To those of you who know about my intense dislike for touchscreen on phones, this euphoric rant may come as a bit of a surprise; but there is a difference. Touchscreen on phones is a silly idea because you have to use both hands to operate it.

A normal, buttoned phone, needs one hand. Touchscreen needs two.

That’s not progress, that’s a backwards step.

No hands to operate a phone, that would be cool. Two hands? Madness.

And before you iPhone-loons wade in, just fuck off. It’s just a phone. Yes it has a few cool applications, but it’s not actually a very good phone. Besides, there are other touchscreen phones out there and they’re all equally annoying.

By the way, I have nothing against Apple products, I just hate their marketing and the fact people follow me around telling me how wonderful Macs are. Mormons, Scientologists and Mac users, please, keep it to yourself. I don’t care.

Anyway, did I tell you how wonderful my new computer is?

Touchscreen on a computer? Genius! No more mouse. It has a mouse, but you don’t need it. You don’t have to point and click … you just point!

With your finger!

Seriously, how cool is that?

Oh wait, I still haven’t told you the saga of buying it … there wasn’t one. I went in, paid for it and walked out again. Pretty easy really.

I have a touchscreen computer!

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to touch it.

And maybe myself.

——————ADDENDUM——————

The above is the post I wanted to write when I went into PC World on Friday.

The actual truth is a little different. I don’t often share the real truth on this blog, since it’s rarely as interesting as lying.

What?

Don’t look at me like that. If I thought the truth was so damn great, I wouldn’t be a writer, would I?

The truth is, they only had one left – the display model. The helpful shop assistant refused me a discount before I’d even asked and found a boxed one in Tottenham. He phoned them, got them to send it to Bexhill (for that was where I was) and promised someone would ring me when it arrived on Tuesday. I wasn’t planning on being in the area on Tuesday, but said I would probably pick it up on Thursday and we parted company on equitable terms.

I was a little disappointed to have to wait for six days to get my fingers on its silky black screen, but I figured it would be worth it.

Then I got sick.

Nastily so.

By the time Tuesday rolled around, I was feeling a little better and decided I would just pick it up today.

Only the bastards haven’t rung.

Still, no problem. They probably think I’m not in until Thursday and will ring me then. So I ring them. They answer, I explain … they know nothing about it.

No big deal. The guy says he’ll find someone who does know and ring me back.

Two hours later, he still hasn’t rung.

So I ring them.

They pretend to be out.

Three hours later, they’re still not answering the phone. Fearing PC World in Bexhill might have burnt down, taking my new computer with it – I race to the scene.

Ten minutes later, I’m surprised to discover the building is still standing and after a bit of searching they find my touchscreen baby sitting in the warehouse.

And I came home.

And touched it.

A lot.

In fact, I’m touching it now.

Ooh, baby.

Categories: Sad Bastard | 29 Comments

Gordy Hoffman

Last night I was supposed to have dinner with Gordy Hoffman and a bunch of writers from Trigger Street.

But I didn’t.

Um … bit of a pointless post this.

Sorry.

Categories: Random Witterings | 2 Comments

Wiggins, pay attention at the back

I just got asked if I want to run a sketch writing workshop. My answer was an immediate and resounding … don’t know.

I’ve never really thought about it before. Do I want to teach? Am I even capable of teaching? Why would anyone want to be taught by me?

I don’t even know what goes on in a workshop having never attended a single course, workshop or seminar.

Or at least none about writing; I’ve been to quite a few Kung Fu seminars, but I doubt wannabe sketch-writers would be very pleased if I marched into the room and got them kicking each other in the head.

Or maybe they would? I have no idea. Do writing workshops normally erupt in controlled violence?

I guess I have several problems with the whole teaching thing:

  1. I’d have to commit to being somewhere on the same day every week for ten weeks. Ten weeks! I don’t know if I’ve got that kind of commitment in me.
  2. I’m not convinced I have anything useful or interesting to say on the subject. They’re looking for ten three-hour sessions. Thirty hours! I can sum it all up in two words: be funny. And short. Four words, I can sum it up in four words.
  3. I don’t want to be one of those teachers I regularly take the piss out of. You know, the ones who can’t actually write anything. I think maybe teaching is something you should do at the end of your career, after you’ve finished learning. I’ve read scripts by writing teachers and known instantly I never, ever want them telling me anything. The other day I saw an ad by some university teacher looking for someone to write his ideas for him – basically, I can’t write, can someone do it for me? Do I really want to join their ranks?

On the plus side: it would be some extra cash; I might be helping someone achieve their dreams; and I’m deluded enough to think I might actually have something useful to say.

But still, do I really want to be a teacher? What if it’s successful and leads onto more teaching? Is that really the road I want to go down?

After much deliberation … I still don’t know.

Help.

Categories: Career Path, Opportunity, Random Witterings | 14 Comments

Wrong Door opening …

28th of August at 22.30 on BBC Three.

Clear your diaries, take the phone off the hook, set your SkyPlus (or any other, non-branded, PVR-type system) and settle in for half an hour of CGI madness.

Or don’t, it’s up to you really.

I’m going to watch it, so’s Mandy; although she doesn’t know it yet.

And just to whet your appetite, here’s an interview with producer Jack Cheshire:

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/technology/onlocation/2008/08/on_location_the_wrong_door.html

See the picture in the top right-hand corner of that interview?

That’s from one of my sketches that is.

And this is what the BBC Press Office have to say for themselves:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/proginfo/tv/wk35/thu.shtml#thu_wrongdoor

Is anyone else so excited they just wet themselves?

No?

Just me then.

Categories: BBC, The Wrong Door | 15 Comments

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