December 31, 2012
New Year's Eve at home. This is a first for Tricia and me, always previously having been out working on the busiest night of the year. Not so 2012. Reflecting the year's gradual decline in gigs, with clubs (and agents) disappearing with alarming regularity, we have the evening to ourselves. Naturally, we defrost the freezer.
December 28, 2012
I find myself in a recording studio - something that has not happened for a few years now - and realise just how much I've missed it. We're only there a couple of hours for some straightforward vocal tracks, but it's an absolute delight, and I make a mental note not to leave it so long next time!
December 24-27, 2012
A quiet, thoroughly enjoyable Christmas at home, with plenty of movies, presents, drinks and food. Some socialising with family, lots of laughs, and even a bit of work as I have three hefty theatre programme briefs to complete by New Year. Ding dong merrily etc etc.
December 23, 2012
Final panto before Christmas (still one to come afterwards) is Milton Keynes's Cinderella. Why they have again chosen the same show as Northampton remains a mystery, but the production is back to MK's usual standards and puts us firmly in the mood for the festivities.
December 19-21, 2012
To Colwyn Bay for a few days' pre-Christmas break on the Welsh coast. The scenery is beautiful, the weather less so. We manage to cram in a couple of films and the juxtaposition of Seven Psychopaths and Nativity 2 makes a pleasingly eclectic reflection of our varied, exciting lives!
December 18, 2012
The day is spent in the company of around 50 dentists and their staff. Should have been terrifying but was actually rather pleasant, delivering a workshop with colleague Jon Ward on challenging conversations.
December 15, 2012
A significant birthday (not mine), and consequently a day out in London as a treat. We lunch at Ed's diner in Euston, where there's a fascinating, geeky conversation at the next table about the merits of Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, before heading to the Noel Coward Theatre for a matinee of Privates On Parade. Our seats at the very edge of the precipice in the gallery don't allow any kind of view of the stage, but we manage to move for the second half and discover just how fantastic Simon Russell Beale's performance is, even if the play itself seems a little dated.
Finishing touches to Rasputin's Mother production draft before delivery to the producer/director, Colin Lewisohn. I'm unable to be involved with the rehearsals - they're in Leeds - and although I'm looking after publicity, there's very much a feeling of handing over the baby with little idea what to expect when performances come round in March. Scary stuff.
December 10, 2012
Much of the day spent on a film set. Not one of mine, sadly, but I accompanied Tricia to a location shoot for a small independent film in which she plays one wordy scene as Aunt Ruth, the shoulder-to-cry-on of the young protagonist. Despite the agonising over line-learning in the past couple of weeks, she's on top of her game and delivers a lovely, poignant performance. Move over, Meryl Streep.
December 8, 2012
To north London for the third annual performance of The Inside Job at the awards ceremony for Hendon Bowls Club. Lovely people, relentlessly energetic dancing (by them, not us) and a superb dinner to boot. That's my kind of gig.
December 7, 2012
Awaiting the start of Hello Dolly! at Leicester's Curve, the vacant seat next to me is suddenly occupied by a brash, American-sounding lady in striped crinolines and bustle, asking me how my day's been. OK, she may have been Dolly (the marvellous Janie Dee) but she completely trashed the overture.
December 1, 2012
Great to catch up with actor Paul Copley, whom I first met when he table-read one of my TV scripts a few years back. Top bloke, first-class actor and an impressive King Lear, even if the production was just 75 minutes long with no interval. RSC's Young People's Shakespeare came home to Stratford at the end of its 10-week run and made a suitably strong impression on its young audience. Now somebody sign him up for a full-scale version!
November 30, 2012
Best Christmas show I've seen for ages: Royal Theatre's A Christmas Carol, in a stunning new production directed by Gary Sefton. Could he be a top tip to replace Laurie Sansom as artistic director of Royal&Derngate? Appointment in the new year, but you read it here first...
November 29, 2012
Now, to those who believe Christmas starts too early, let me merely observe that I have just been commissioned to write some programme notes for Sleeping Beauty... at Christmas 2013. Crackers, anyone?
November 13, 2012
Thanks to the most minor of bumps (reversed into at low speed while stationary), our car has kindly been written off by the insurance company, so today was spent finding a replacement. Not top of my 'greatest things to do on a November day' list, but eventually fruitful.
November 9, 2012
A delightful time at Radio Northampton being interviewed by the very generous and interested John Griff about Rasputin's Mother. Hoping to have an edited version uploaded to the site before too long.
November 9, 2012
Some welcome interest from BBC local radio, who have asked me in for an interview this afternoon to talk about Rasputin's Mother. I always love the atmosphere in radio studios, so looking forward to it.
November 2, 2012
End of a hectic few days reviewing shows - One Man, Two Guvnors, Phantom of the Opera and Merry Wives of Windsor. It's always a problem giving ratings out of five - how do you compare the trio above? In the end, they got two fours and a three respectively, but it's a fairly arbitrary process, I have to confess...
October 29, 2012
Busy couple of weeks working on rewrites of Rasputin's Mother following read-through, plus quite a few programme notes for Christmas shows - Northampton Royal&Derngate, Sheffield Crucible, Raymond Gubbay concerts etc. Great fun and lots of variety.
October 14, 2012
Fascinating workshop experience as Rasputin's Mother gets a read-through. As always, it's great to hear the dialogue spoken by real actors, and I'm delighted to discover it seems in pretty good shape. Dates have also been confirmed for three sets of performances next March, two in Yorkshire, one in Birmingham. More details to follow nearer the time.
October 7, 2012
With exactly a week to go until the workshop of my play Rasputin's Mother, I finally complete a fresh draft with some significant changes and some smaller ones. Can't wait to hear what it sounds like from the mouths of real actors.
October 4, 2012
I love days out in London. As well as seeing the wonderful new Globe production of Twelfth Night, with the delightful Stephen Fry, we spot Lord Archer in the audience and newsreader Alastair Stewart crossing the Millennium Bridge. I'm such a punter...
September 26, 2012
Off to Bristol to catch up with the incomparable Kim Wall, currently appearing at the Old Vic in Wild Oats. Had the delight of working with Kim on Ayckbourn's Man of the Moment - he's hugely underrated and an extremely intelligent actor, and it'll be great to see him again.
September 21, 2012
Very constructive meeting with a Birmingham venue today - looks like Rasputin's Mother might be getting an outing a bit more locally than Yorkshire!
September 18, 2012
The national playwriting award (see August 27 below) appears already to be paying dividends. My winning piece is now being read by the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and has led to an invitation to send two plays (Rasputin's Mother and Reality) to the Birmingham Rep. Oh, and a reader from the Royal Court has asked for a gander as well...
September 6, 2012
Just undergone the rather weird experience of watching a play screened at the cinema. The National Theatre has teamed up with Cineworld to carry a number of its productions to audiences well beyond the capital. The latest is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - whose original author Mark Haddon, incidentally, I was at school with. It's a compelling production but it's definitely a bizarre way to watch it, neither theatre nor film. It could take some getting used to, but I'm certainly going to try, with Julie Walters and the incomparable Simon Russell Beale among the National stars due for transmission over the coming months.
August 27, 2012
Dramatic, exciting, game-changing - not the new set of notes on my latest script, but the news confirmed today that my stage play Rasputin's Mother has just WON this year's national playwriting competition. I am officially an award-winning playwright! Any suggestions gratefully received on how I can now use this delightful accolade to its best advantage.
August 19, 2012
What's in a name? My new agency, RAW Talent Management, have decided their chosen nomenclature clashes too closely with other similar beasts in the industry and have, accordingly, modified it slightly. They're now RED Talent Management. That's red for go, I'm naturally assuming...
August 16, 2012
Spend a delightful half-hour interviewing the equally delightful Sandi Toksvig at the request of the Royal & Derngate theatres, where her play Bully Boy is about to open. There's a West End transfer scheduled for the autumn as well, so it should get an even wider audience.
August 7, 2012
Busy week pulling together 14 previously e-published short stories sharing a single narrative into one full-length novel. My e-publishers have decided to print it on real paper, even though it won't be going out under my real name (see July 29 below for the implications of this). First draft of the completed m/s sent off to my lovely editor for an initial round of notes.
July 29, 2012
When is a book not your book? The first of two actual, physical, published books this year is now in my hands following the official launch of the 48-hour book (see July 6, below). But, as one of 13 contributors to the co-written, collaborative novel, my name is not on the spine or cover (as you can see from the picture, left). The second book out at the end of the year will also not have my name on it, as it is being published under a pseudonym for reasons I am not allowed to talk about or they'd have to kill me. So even without the personal namecheck, do they feel like 'mine'? Damn right they do.
July 19, 2012
The long list for the finalists of the 50 Kisses film competition (www.50Kissesfilm.com) are announced this morning. It's a two-page script contest, with the only requirement being to include a kiss. The 50 winners will get made into a real compendium film, with a real screening on Valentine's Day. My entry, First Sight, has made the initial cut, which is a lovely start to the day. Final decision comes on July 30.
July 6, 2012
There's nothing like a nice, freshly-printed bound copy of a book to set your heart racing. News arrives today that the 48-hour Book - a project I was involved in creating last year - will be launched on Sunday July 29. Real copies of a real book. I'm not knocking ebooks - they've done all right by me in other spheres - but there is something a bit special about the physical reality. If you want to come along you'll be very welcome - 12 noon at the Central Library in Abington Street, Northampton. With real books available. Say hello if you do...
June 29, 2012
RAW Talent Management is official. And I'm part of it. The anticipation mounts (no pressure there, Rob...).
June 21, 2012
Oh, the ups and downs... After Tuesday's kick in the knackers (see below), today brings delightful and encouraging news from Planet Agent: I am delighted to have been invited to become one of the first to join a brand new agency, representing writers and actors - in both capacities! All the signs are auspicious, and I very much look forward to what this excellent new organisation has to offer. As yet, details are still under wraps, but there will be more exciting news very soon, I have no doubt.
June 19, 2012
One of those sickening moments today when you discover that the idea which was going to be your Harry Potter-style fortune-maker is actually already out there. Not just out there, in fact, but bearing an uncannily similar resemblance to a whole bunch of development work you'd already done on it. It isn't the first time, either. No point getting worked up about it, though. Just have to hold onto the fact that it obviously was a brilliant idea, so at least I am capable of having them. Now I just need another one...
June 6, 2012
First draft of the stage play is now delivered to the production company. Maybe five minutes' breather before picking up the next project, the novelisation of one of my thriller scripts. Six at a pinch.
June 1, 2012
I can now reveal I have a completed first draft of the stage play that has been brewing for several months now. It's an odd feeling, typing 'End of Act Two', since it's part achievement, part sadness, part trepidation, part knowledge of the bulk of the work still to come. A re-read and a few early rewrite thoughts will now ensue, followed by delivery to the production company who have been waiting patiently, for their initial reaction.
May 31, 2012
If variety is the spice of life, then God, I'm spicy! The last two weeks have seen me exercising every aspect of my diverse portfolio. I've been a freelance journalist, a theatre critic, a roleplayer, a facilitator, a musician, a composer and a playwright. Some of them even for real money. It's a fantastic life...
May 17, 2012
Word feeds back from Radio 4 Towers that my producer has been unable to take my play though this commissioning round due to scheduling limitations. It's disappointing, but she's still very keen and this is only a postponement: she'll be pushing it again come the autumn.
May 15, 2012
For my birthday treat (it's not in May, but never mind), I'm taken to an Elvis Costello gig in Birmingham's Symphony Hall as part of his Revolver Tour. Front row seats, three non-stop hours of Costello magic and a souvenir T-shirt. Does it get any better than this?
May 10, 2012
Managed to get some serious work done on the stage play, which is now only a couple of scenes away from a completed first draft. Mind you, the rest of May is looking a bit chocker, so not quite sure when it'll be back on the radar again...
May 4, 2012
Writers' Academy announce they've had 600 entries this year. Gulp.
May 1, 2012
Entry submitted for this year's BBC Writers' Academy, with a couple of days to spare. It's had some great feedback and notes from the readers who've seen it, but it must be admitted it's a little bit of a high-risk strategy in its approach. Hell, I've tried the straight bat four times already, so this has got to be worth a shot. Hasn't it?
April 22, 2012
Nice to be able to support a bunch of fellow actors at a special screening of their new feature film, The Casebook of Eddie Brewer (check out the website at www.thecasebookofeddiebrewer.com). It's a tongue-in-cheek psychological thriller with loads of laughs along the way and some great performances. Now all they need is some distribution, and they could easily have a cult hit on their hands. Well done, chaps!
So anyway, that nice Mr Gates unilaterally decided a couple of months back to close down my website hosting service at the end of April. I suppose I should be grateful he gave me a few weeks' notice. Anyway, the process of transferring the site to a new hosting service (and re-registering the domain name etc) has required not only several weeks of arsing about with a registrar in Melbourne, Australia, but also endless (unpaid) hours of work and a degree in astrophysics. Which I don't have. Hence the temporary absence. My technical department (er, that's me) has been working on it urgently, alongside finishing the aforementioned TV script, and I am now back in cyberspace with a new registrar and a new hosting service. Thank you, Mr Gates, and goodbye.
February 24, 2012
Target met, the words 'End of Episode' have been typed, and there's now a first draft waiting to be disembowelled. Time for another few days in the bottom drawer before more work on it. I also need to line up some willing readers for their notes. Meanwhile, a nice commission comes in from John Good, the theatre programme people, to write the programme notes for the forthcoming tour of Birds of a Feather, with Linda Robson, Pauline Quirke and Lesley Joseph reprising their TV roles. Good job I've got a contact for Laurence Marks...
February 20, 2012
With a satisfactory scene-by-scene now reworked, it's time for the dialogue. A few days available this week to work on it, so hoping to have a rough draft down soon.
February 13, 2012
Work completed on outline, treatment and scene-by-scene for the new TV script. Now to leave it to brew before going to first draft.
February 7, 2012
The fully formed but only half-written stage play unfortunately has to take a back seat as work begins on a new TV script for submission to this year's BBC Writers' Academy. I'm aiming to turn this round sharpish so that I don't lose momentum on the play, but also to allow plenty of time for rewrites before submitting around April time.
February 6, 2012
New pitches delivered to the R4 producer for her upcoming meeting with the commissioning editor.
February 1, 2012
Two lovely meetings in one day. Lunch at Somerset House with a delightful script editor I met at the Screenwriters' Festival, who's very supportive and interested in what I'm up to. Then a meeting with a Radio 4 producer who will be taking a couple of my pitches for R4 afternoon plays to the next commissioning round this spring. Exciting developments...
January 31, 2012
Another thoroughly nice chap, Matthew Graham (see Eternal Law below), sends me some lovely comments about my TV pilot script Hacks, which he describes as 'really powerful'. Just what I need before meeting script editors and radio producers later this week!
January 30, 2012
Are you old enough to remember Doctor in the House? Well, it's being resurrected for the stage, starring Robert Powell and Joe Pasquale. On the back of it, I have the pleasure today of interviewing its 90-year-old author, Richard Gordon. Lucid, witty and self-deprecating, he makes a fantastic interviewee. He's also a thoroughly nice chap.
January 19, 2012
Finally catch up with a full ep of Eternal Law and it completely lives up to its promise. The first ep scripted by Matt, rather than Ash, is fizzing with fabulous, witty dialogue, while the premise is clever and interesting and the production values terrific. Why has it not been commissioned for a second series yet???
January 15, 2012
My efforts to catch up on the first two eps of Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham's Eternal Law (see October 20 below) are scuppered by ITV Player, which allows me to watch up to the first ad break, then refuses to permit any more. Thanks, ITV. It all looks so auspicious, as well.
January 14, 2012
Back-to-back viewings of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and War Horse, which made an interesting day out. (I know, I should have been writing, but all work and no play...) Anyway, the scripts were of particular interest - Dragon Tattoo by Steve Zaillian, War Horse by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis. If you'd asked me beforehand to put money on the best structure, dialogue and emotional depth, I'd have gone for the Curtis co-script without blinking. The reality is somewhat different...
January 8, 2012
Work on the stage play proceeds apace, as well it needs to! Also lined up are meetings with Radio 4 and a TV producer, so there's plenty to keep me busy during these cold winter months.
A busy month of writing, roleplay and music, including reviewing countless Christmas shows. Easily the stand-out productions across the Midlands this year are the Royal Theatre, Northampton's very silly version of Alice in Wonderland, and the RSC's colourful and clever adaptation of the story of Robin Hood. Traditional pantos, by contrast, seem a little jaded and by-the-book. Unless that's just me...