It has been pointed out to Faustus by one of our correspondents that while you can meet the worst types of people in this business and have the worst kind of experience, you can also meet the best. Faustus agrees wholeheartedly.
There are many talented Producers and Editors out there with whom it is a pleasure to work - a pleasure because they make good work possible.
Of course, it is not to be supposed that Faustus applauds only ‘nice’ people. It’s not a cuddly-bunny world that writers are looking for but the opportunity, having been hired, to work to their very best potential. We all take stick sometimes, we’re all driven to anguish and frustration sometimes, many of us have gone home after a ‘strenuous discussion’ with the producer or editor to think: er, hang on, they was right. That is half the fun. The other half is knowing at the end of it all that you’ve made a great piece of drama.
Nothing of the grief described to Faustus derives from a writer being pushed to write better. They love nothing better than being pushed to write better. If nobody else does it for them, they’ll push themselves to write better. It all derives from that cynical climate of intimidation, power-games, mind-games and bullying so well described by one of our commentators below.
The word filtering back up the mountain, meanwhile, is that some writers have become ‘comfortable’ [I quote this again - it’s from the WGGB/BBC meeting]. That is an incredible slur. More incredible is that it might be believed. Being a writer is a constant and habitual state of discomfort. From where else does the writing come? What has become clear from the various messages that we’ve received is that, on the contrary, the writers remain so committed, so loyal, so dedicated to the art and all that it might achieve that it hurts.
So who is telling the lies and why?
It’s no surprise that the BBC is in a panic about getting new writers. All they hear is that the old ones (and that will one day include those who are now new) ‘lack enthusiasm’ or ‘are not sufficiently committed’. Maybe what’s needed is a system that allows the enthusiasm and commitment not only to shine through but to survive more than five years in what one writer described as ‘the battle-field that is now Series TV’.
[Note to many of the new BBC script editors now trained and ready to edit scripts: the title of this post is a reference to the opening of a book called ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was a writer who lived in the nineteenth century. A book is a thing with lots of pieces of paper stuck to each other in the middle with words written on them. A reference is … oh never mind, you won’t notice them anyway.]