Monday 5 November 2012

Tell Tale Signs

A lovely story has just broken on Chortle about a man who claims he has a sitcom on BBC but, on balance, probably doesn't. But it's very difficult to tell whether the man is telling the truth or not since he seems no more deluded or confused than many people I've met who actually work in television and comedy. Whether he's Walter Mitty or the next Walter Matthau (okay, that joke doesn't really work but, I think the wordplay carries it) there are some tell tale signs that lead me to smell a rat.

The Chortle article says:
Higgins, 23, told the Bellshill Speaker that his show Skoolies, based three lads who live in the same tower block and attended the same school, was due to air next July.
There isn't really a 'situation' here. It's three lads who know each other. But it could still be a real show. Loads of shows on TV in the last few years are just 'based around people who live near each other'. Which is normally a shame. But so far, there's no whiff here. It could be a true story. The article goes on:
My script came up and comedy producer Jon Aird asked me if he could read it and I sent him it in an email. ‘He got back to me two days later telling me that he thought it was great and asked me to come in for a chat about it.
"He got back to me two later". Ha ha ha ha. Sorry. *wipes tear from eye* It takes ages people to get back to you in television - even if you have a track record and know the person you're dealing with quite well. Not because they're lazy but because they're busy, normally producing comedy shows which takes ages. (Ok, some are lazy I'm sure, but not in my experience). Ha ha. 'two days'. *cough* Anyway, the article also says:
‘When I got there they told me they wanted to buy it and I accepted. They also gave me a job as a comedy writer.’ He later told Chortle the contract, signed after meeting Aird twice in Glasgow, was for three years, and would also involve him working on other comedy shows.
A few things here. 'They wanted to buy it'. No, no. Even if they like the idea and knew this new writer, they would express mild interest and offer a modest fee (say £500) as an option in the hope that the writer would go off and write the script for free. (To be fair, productions companies are far worse for this doing this that the BBC)

Either way, I know what would not happen: the offer of a 'three-year contract'. The BBC wouldn't offer Simon Nye or Andy Hamilton a three year contract. It just doesn't happen. These contracts don't exist. I think Higgins is mistaking being a comedy writer for being a premiership footballer, in which are there fixed term, lucrative contracts. There are no actual jobs in writing comedy. Every job is freelance - either script-based, or on a day-rate - except for a few unusual situations, which are often script editing and development related.

So there we have it. What's the real story here? One thing's for sure. Some producers will not read this idea and something might happen because of this story. And what this comedy game is about more than anything is confidence - and that is something that our friend, Mr Higgins, does not seem to be lacking.

1 comment:

  1. Haha, funny story: it's exactly the same with German TV. Even I could have told there's something not kosher about that story.