Wednesday 16 October 2013

Bluestone 42 - Field Notes No. 1

So, Bluestone 42 is back on TV. Series 1 is being repeated on BBC1 on Friday nights after Graham Norton. Tell your friends.

Those mountains in the background of the show are not Afghanistan. I knew you'd be shocked. Anyone who's been to South Africa would probably recognise them straight away. As would anyone who's watched the credit to the end, but the only people who do that work in television, looking for someone to resent or blame for what they've just seen.

So I'm currently writing this blogpost in Stellenbosch as we begin filming Series 2. And I'll be posting a few despatches from our pretend frontline, not as a way of trailering the series, but as a way of showing what a writer gets up to on set and seeing what we can glean from that, short of lessons in coping with tiredness, bored and passive aggressive rage coupled with thinking of brand new jokes that you somehow manage to film on the fly before cutting them in the edit several weeks later.

The highly successful and thoroughly delight Sam Bain (Peep Show, Fresh Meat and everything else) says that:
Being a writer on set is like standing next to a photocopier during a seven-week-long printout. It's repetitive and often boring and not the best use of your time, but if you walk away there's always the chance of a catastrophic paper jam.
This is a brilliant description in many ways, but there's obviously much more to be said. I often describe the job as arguing over prepositions. It's fiddling with lines, tweaking them so that they make sense, sound right, feel natural and all that. In fact, you're essentially ironing. I shall explain what I mean by that next time.

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