Work in Progress – TV Scripts

I’m not sure what type of writing I prefer but if I can probably narrow it down to two – they are writing novels and writing film or TV scripts.

I think it’s because each of those forms allow you to write proper ‘stories’ with plots and characters. For example it’s exciting to throw a random plot twist at the characters and see how they react; then follow them to the end to see how everything gets resolved.

There’s time to get to know the characters a bit, time to chill with these new and interesting people. It’s also a bit like that with painting, especially painting portraits, where you don’t know where that first mark on the canvas is going to lead, who is going to emerge from that mess of form and colour.

I suppose that it’s a bit like that for all art-forms – the creation of something out of nothing but an idea. But then, isn’t it a bit like that for science and engineering too? Isn’t it a bit like that for every facet of human existence, from making a cup of tea to designing a spaceship?

There’s nothing special about writers and artists.

Anyway, my work-in-progress includes adapting two of my books into television scripts.

It’s going great so far, in fact both books seem to lend themselves to the visual style of a television script. The books are Bums and Boys from the Backfields and each story is being developed into a six part TV drama. Both books are set  in the industrial/post-industrial town of Elchurch on the South Wales coast but they are very different books in other respects.

Click for more about the books : BUMS or BOYS FROM THE BACKFIELDS

Here’s a sneak peek

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Tafftown – a new Cardiff based Soap Opera

tafftown-header-image02

So, it looks like Tafftown is becoming a reality – when I say reality, of course I mean it’s not real, but it’s a drama of the sort that’s commonly known as a soap-opera – a term originally coined to mean a programme that depended on advertising revenues from soap (or washing powder) companies, or as Wikipedia says (although I’ve never heard the term ‘soapie’, it sounds Australian?):

“A soap opera, soapie, or soap is a serial drama on television or radio which features related story lines about the lives of many characters. The stories usually focus on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama. The term soap opera originated from such dramas being typically sponsored by soap manufacturers in the past.”

So that’s what Tafftown is, and it’s based on an idea of mine, influenced by several factors, including the fact that I have lived in an area similar to the one depicted in Tafftown for the last ten years and for a period in my twenties. I’ve been thinking about such a television series for a long time, and it finally came to a head a few days ago when after a meeting with my co-writer Dafydd Wyn Roberts and consultations with the other as yet unnamed people involved, we decided to announce it to the world.

So there it is it’s a reality.

The first episodes will be short – ten minutes or so – and will be broadcast online only.

Scripts and characters are in development and several parts have already been cast.

There’s a little bit more info on the Tafftown website and on the Tafftown Facebook Page or you can follow Tafftown on Twitter

see ya soon

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The Richest Man in the World

arianI am the richest man in the world. They say I am a recluse, I am afraid of doorknobs, I shower in purified water a dozen times a day, and I eat nothing but the flesh of sterilised fruit. It’s true; I am the richest man in the world, the rest doesn’t matter, it’s of no consequence, it’s irrelevant. All that matters is that these words reach you; that we touch.

I have no one you see – no mother, no father, no wife, no sons, no daughters, no family, no friends. Oh! I have slaves, paid slaves, unpaid sycophants, admirers, devotees even. I suspect that every second of every day my name is on the lips of someone; my name is typed into a search engine; my name is tweeted at the speed of light. Continue reading

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Captive (Short Story)

“This too must pass.” These words have helped me in my long ordeal. They ring in my head like a mantra almost every minute that I’m stuck here in this God-forsaken pit of a room. If I divide the days into hours and the hours into minutes and the minutes into seconds and think only of the infinitesimally small time-period that I am conscious of now, it is just bearable; in fact it becomes like any other moment in my reality – never-ending and entirely ephemeral.

Those times that I come face to face with my captors are the worst – and the best. I crave for their presence to confirm my own existence. I despise their arrogance, that they have the power to liberate me, and the power to end my life; they are my Gods. There’s the big one with the slow voice and hairy scarred hands, ‘LOVE’ it says in scruffy blue letters across one set of knuckles and ‘HATE’ it says in thick blood-red on the other.

captive

He seems nervous today, there’s a change in the atmosphere. Instead of shoving the filthy bowl of filthy food at me and hurriedly exiting – he lingers, as if he needs to talk. Now, I have the power. I hold the bowl jealously close, pluck out the food and cram it in my mouth. I pause, gagging on a piece of what smells like raw, rotten fish, but I force it down; I must live. I grunt at him, or at the nervous eyes visible through the narrow slits in his black balaclava. Continue reading

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Breaking the Rules

Wednesday night: I met this fit girl in the pub; we exchanged phone numbers. I wrote hers on a pack of silver Rizla cigarette papers. I don’t want to appear too keen – treat ‘em mean and all that, so I had an idea. There’s fifty papers in the packet. I’ve decided that if she hasn’t contacted me by the time I’ve used the last paper, I’ll give her a call. Thing is, the pack is just about full, and because I only smoke about ten a day, that’s an excruciating five days to wait.

rollie

I could cheat. I could smoke more; perhaps if I upped the stakes to twenty a day that would halve the time, or, if I offered the papers around, maybe when the guys are rolling spliffs – that would see them disappear in a night. I’m in a quandary. I always play these little games according to the rules, and the rules are quite clear – I have to wait until I’ve used all the papers in a legitimate way, and for the purposes of this game, the legitimate way is to carry on as usual and smoke the ten a day.

Oh my god, I’ve just remembered, I’m in the middle of another little game, I’ve promised myself I’ll stop smoking by tea-time on Thursday. I’m stuffed. Continue reading

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Dead Flowers – a short story

Twenty-seven people were killed or injured when the bomb exploded. I happened to be travelling past on the bus, but I was only shaken up a little.

I went to help of course; I am a doctor after all. I attended to three of the victims. Mair died on the spot and Alice lost a leg, but it was Keith who got my sympathy. I suppose it was because I identified with him more than I did with the others. He was a man, we were about the same age and more significantly, it had been twenty-seven years for me too.

Keith whispered: “Twenty-seven years married, I thought I’d seen it all,” he laughed.

I laughed with him, there’s not much else you can do in a situation like that. He wasn’t seriously hurt in a physical way, but I could see the damage just as clearly as if he was. I knew the signs.

“I thought it couldn’t get any worse, after I lost my job,” he said quietly. “But of course it could, and of course it did.”

“Don’t worry, it won’t be long now.”

“I’m OK,” he said. “There’s no need to bother with me. Better go and see to the others, they need you more.”

I looked around. Through the dust, everything was surprisingly still and quiet.

“Is Mair dead?” he asked.

He already knew. Her blood and pieces of her face were dripping off his arm.

I nodded. Continue reading

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Born to Lose – (short story)

Walter? What sort of a name was that to give to a child born in 1995? Walter Andrew Nankeville. You don’t need much imagination to know what nickname he acquired in later life. To be fair his parents were decent sorts, hard working and honest, and they only wanted the best for their one, and as it turned out, only child. Walter was quite happy in the nursery and infants’ schools and for the first few days of the primary school. Then the naturally cruel older boys, as soon as they found out his full name, gave him the nickname that from then on moulded his character and his attitudes to life.

When he was just eight years old he decided that he hated his parents and never spoke to them willingly again. They, poor innocent souls, never understood why they had bred such an ungrateful surly child, even until the day they both died in a pointless car accident when Walter was a broody fifteen. His feeble parents, pathetic even in the method of their demise, skidded on a patch of spilt butterfat and ended up upside down, skulls shattered, on the concrete forecourt of a Lada garage.

By then he’d already become entrenched as a true loner. All around him his peers joined football teams, went to the cinema, and started on the painful adolescent discovery of sex. Walter kept his own company, and, to the other teenagers at his school, seemed to live up to his nickname. Walter developed passions of course; he collected things, coins, stamps, and the addresses of pen-friends he never wrote to.

In the summer after the death of his parents, the children’s home that had taken him in sponsored him on a holiday to Wales. Walter didn’t mind being sent to Wales, he wouldn’t have minded staying in his room at the home either. Unfortunately, one of the staff at the adventure centre, some sort of patron saint of lost causes, decided to take on the challenge of Walter’s lethargy and apparent disinterest, and made it her task to get him out of bed in the morning and push him into some sort of activity.

reservoir

Walter realised that he had to do something with his body while his inner self brooded its way through his earthly existence so he didn’t even mind that. He elected to go walking around the hills near the reservoir, on his own of course. Betty, his motivator, was not very happy at the prospect of Walter making the solo trek, but, she reasoned, it was better than him lying in bed all day and it might at last provide the trigger that would begin the process of him recovering from the tragedy of his parents’ deaths. Continue reading

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Jack of Hearts

jackofheartsIT was almost ground into the pavement outside the gift shop – a single playing card – the Jack of Hearts.

I took a snap on my phone thinking I might post it to the Facebook group – Found Objects Forum. I often think about posting stuff to the group but rarely do – probably because its founder – Marc Robert Roberts of Zeuk and Chapter fame, does such a great job with his own photos and commentary I feel my efforts are paltry by comparison. it’s worth checking out if you like that sort of thing. (Click here to have a peek)

Anyway, I haven’t posted it to the group and probably never will.

It did get me thinking though – about another Jack of Hearts I was involved in a while ago.  This was a television series from 1999 starring Keith Allen as a hard-boiled probation officer. I worked on the production for two weeks during filming at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay. I use the term ‘work’ in the sense that I got paid (not much – OK £70) for hanging around on set for up to 12 hours a day and occasionally walking about or pretending to chat in the background of a scene. I only did it because I was skint.

The star of the show was Keith Allen, who, coincidentally I knew for a while when he was a teenager. He was one of my brother’s best friends and even then his riotous behaviour foreshadowed his future reputation as a bit of a wild man.

So, the TV series, Jack of Hearts, was a flop, though it didn’t too much damage to the future of BBC Wales, who are now at the top of their game with the worldwide success of other shows made by them including Doctor Who and Sherlock, along with the Roath Lock studios and the building of their brand new headquarters smack bang in the centre of the capital city.

I don’t know why Jack of Hearts failed to get much of an audience, it was a tight production with decent actors, a good director, and a hard-working professional crew. The concept seemed reasonable enough and though the script had some development issues it was as good as it could be.

It’s the same with creative work of any kind – you just never know how something is going to turn out or how it will be received. Obviously the work has to have some merit and has to be approved by a sufficient number of informed people to validate it. Or does it? That’s another question, but my point is that no matter how much time, skill, and energy you put into a project you can never be sure of its success Just look at the credits for Jack of Hearts on the Internet Movie Database – IMDB. It’s a page lacking in any detailed information and you’ll notice that the star Keith Allen’s name seems to be missing in the visible main cast list, but just look at how many talented people were involved in making the series – and they had all the resources of the BBC behind them.

Still a flop!

So, what’s the secret then? Persistence? Hard work? Talent? Connections?  Or do you have to be some sort of gregarious likeable person? You probably need most of the above attributes but you need one other crucial ingredient – what’s called luck! I mean, the mere fact that you exist is in the multi-trillions to one region, as close as you can get to an impossibility as it’s possible to get. The fact that a particular unique mix of nature and nurture came together and created the indescribable complexity of you is a miracle in itself.

So, if life is a gift worth having then you’re already lucky beyond measurement.

Funny what thoughts a grubby playing card can stimulate.

FLOCKS

I was walking through Riverside earlier when I saw bunch of seagulls swoop into an alley.

Gulls swooping - the pigeons have beaten them to it

Gulls swooping – the pigeons are in the race too

I think it was a pile of breadcrumbs against the wall that attracted them

A minute later I saw a bunch of humans bobbing and drifting on the river Taff

Paddling standing up on the Taff

Bobbing on the Taff

Seagulls in an alley! Humans on the water! What’s the world coming to?

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and in the end it doesn’t matter

I wrote a play a long time ago called ‘Tossers’. Looking for a tag to describe what sort of play it was, I dubbed it ‘a surreal pointless play’. There’s no point me trying to describe it because it actually is a surreal pointless play. It was performed as part of the On the Edge series at Chapter Arts Centre around ten years ago and it went down well. You can read it by clicking here.

So, why doesn’t it matter in the end, or indeed at any other time? Well, the truth is that it doesn’t matter because whatever it is, it is so tiny and insignificant that it has no effect, so doesn’t matter. On the always present other hand, it, whatever it is, is all that matters. Trouble is it’s quite impossible for me to convey the meaning of what I’m trying to say by describing it in  this way, so like many who are trying to describe the indescribable I turn to some form of art – in this case words, put together in the form of a stage play.

I wrote another play with a similar idea behind it called ‘it doesn’t matter’. That play has yet to be produced but you can read it by clicking here.

The point is that there is no point, but, that doesn’t matter either. And there’s no point me going on trying to explain it – what I’m saying might be, and probably is, a load of bollocks anyway.

Another way of thinking about it is that . . . . oh who am I kidding, I can’t describe it, so let’s just sit back, breathe deeply and enjoy the view.

An enjoyable view?

An enjoyable view?

And it carries on anyway, whether you’re in the game or not, whether it even is a game or not.

Do you think the universe is dissolving into a kind of smear? Maybe smear is too dirty a word – perhaps kaleidoscope is better? Except the word kaleidoscope implies patterns and all I can see is a randomness. something like the image below.

stars

Portion of sky photographed by the Hubble Telescope

That’s one way of looking at it I suppose.

And with that, a week of writing a blog post every day comes to an end. It was an experiment. I don’t know if it will carry on.

Oh! Except here is a picture of a lovely door/gate – there’s something behind it!!!!

Door to somewhere

Door to somewhere

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what happened today

“What is human emotion? Love, anger, fear – violence?”

What does it mean to be human?

humanssHumans – Channel 4

Over the decades I’ve read hundreds of Science Fiction stories and so far there’s nothing new about Humans – Channel 4, Sunday June 14th, 9pm. That doesn’t mean it’s not good, I’m not sure about that yet – though if my arm was twisted then I’d say it was watchable but not great – not yet.

Anyway, I don’t do television reviews and this piece of writing is supposed to be about me shooting from the hip and writing whatever comes into my mind about what happened today. (Truthfully – there’s no way I could ever write ‘whatever’ came into my mind, because it would take forever – so this piece will inevitably have a theme, a focus, and will only represent a very tiny glimpse of what came into my mind – look, this could go on until hell is a snowball . . . .)

So, today, was/is a Sunday in June. What happened?

Here’s a list:

Gluten Free vegan cakes –  I ate a lot of gluten-free vegan cakes today, which is unusual since I rarely eat cake of any kind but when I do, they’re always vegan and sometimes gluten-free.

Watched television – including the aforementioned ‘Humans’ and ‘The Road to Coronation Street’ – a repeat of a drama on some Freeview channel called, I think, the Drama Channel. Quite touching in a strange way, perhaps because it reminded me of my Grandmother who lived for a time in the small parlour of the small house I grew up in and who was a Coronation Street addict. She used to shuffle into the living room, reeking of the germolene she used to slather on an open wound on her leg, three times a week or whatever it was then.

She was lovely, my Gran, but always quiet and mysterious. I think she was illegitimate and became an orphan early on after her mother fell down the stairs. There was a German Captain Voss in her mix of ancestors but I’m not sure exactly where he fitted in and the uncle who did know is dead. Gran married a bricklayer by the name of John Brennan whose father came from Ireland so they say. He died when I was very young of TB – she carried on for a while in our parlour, her and the stench of germolene.

Chilli plants – We visited the Riverside Market, where I got the Gluten-Free vegan cakes from and where Chris Fowler, who works in the library service with my wife, was selling chilli plants. We got one – a special white one – because of the library connection I guess.

We acquired the gluten-free cake from two sources. From Fran, who makes vegetarian and vegan pasties, pies and cakes, especially welshcakes, and who used to supply the shop Pulse Wholefoods that we used to run, and from Andy on the Naturally Kind stall, who sells all vegan cakes and raw cashew cream cheese-type cakes.

While I was talking to Fran one of the Super Furry Animals and the ex First Minister of Wales came to the stall and made purchases. Later, another of the Super Furry Animals drifted past, and Chris Fowler, the chilli man, stopped to talk to him (Chris’s brother Pete Fowler is the guy who does the artwork for the Super Furry Animals’ album covers).

There’s a lot more I/we should/could have done and in fact did plan to do – like go to the allotment, sort the curtains out in the back bedroom, finish tidying the middle/dining room, take a drive to the seaside or down the M4 to visit mothers; plus I’m supposed to be working on putting together the book of short stories for the Welsh Short Story Network, but it was/is a Sunday and I have a deep conditioning to chill on such a day.

Anyway – this is turning out to be a bit of a ramble and probably pointless at that, so I’ll go back to ‘Humans’. I had an idea when watching it that I would write a review so I made notes.

Here they are:

There’s nothing new in Humans so far, nothing I didn’t read decades ago in one Science Fiction story or another. (I used to consume them as regularly as I check Facebook nowadays)

Who are the real humans? What does it mean to be human?

What makes us human? Being human is a very special, unique thing.

You are ‘chosen’ if you’re human, unlike, say, a rat, or a pig, fit only for for killing or eating or both.

Purpose of life.

Value of a human life – all that jazz.

Importance of memory -> identity

gradually unfolds that some of the Synths are conscious (machine life)

“these freaks are the singularity”

ROBOT STARING AT THE MOON

if you didn’t get it they spelt it out at the end

“What is human emotion?”

Love

anger

fear

violence

How do you teach a computer to forget?

In the end, at the end of the first episode, we have now got used to the world the writer and the production team have constructed – from now on it’s just an ordinary drama with all the usual human tropes

That’s it!!!

except

veggie-veganVeggie/Vegan stalls on Riverside Market

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It Doesn’t Matter – a Play for the Stage

Read the whole play below, or download is a Word doc It Doesn-t Matter

IT DOESN’T MATTER

A ONE ACT PLAY

CHARACTERS:

ADAM: A MAN

BEN: A MAN

CARRIE: A WOMAN

THE THREE CHARACTERS ARE OF WORKING AGE AND ARE IN THE SAME AGE RANGE.

SCENE: TYPICAL OPEN PLAN LOUNGE/KITCHEN 2015

ADAM IS HOVERING NEAR THE KITCHEN AREA. BEN IS AT THE KITCHEN COUNTER.

ADAM: What are you doing?

BEN: What do you mean what am I doing?

ADAM: I mean what are you doing?

BEN: Talking to you – obviously.

ADAM: Before that what were you doing?

BEN: What do you mean what was I doing?

ADAM: I mean what were you doing before I asked you what are you doing?

BEN: Ah then. Nothing. I wasn’t doing anything.

ADAM: Yes you were. I saw you doing something. Continue reading

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Bumps in the Night

TAPS – Television Arts Performance Showcase were an organisation whose aim was to discover and develop scriptwriters for television. They did pretty good for a long time then, I believe, the recession put paid to them in 2009.

I was involved in a number of their schemes and wrote a short drama with them in 2006. The drama “Bumps in the Night” never quite made it to production. Anyway I thought I’d put the script up here in the faint hope that someone will be interested in it, or at least to give an example of a tv drama script, the length of an episode of a soap opera on ITV.

Click below to download / open the script

BUMPS IN THE NIGHT 2014

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Web Street – Soap on the Web

The nostalgic mood continues. Here are the first two episodes of a soap-opera / drama thing I started writing specifically for publication on the Internet in its early days – 1996. The idea was that it would be published online in short sharp episodes using only text in a visual style, though there were always plans to add pictures and possibly videos when the technology got fast enough to make that viable. Maybe it’s time to do that now?

I know it needs editing, think of it as a draft.

Figanwr was a pen name I used occasionally then. Continue reading

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