Friday 3 October 2008

other people

Nick Elliot, ITV's head of drama (1995-2007), gives his advice to dramatists writing for mainstream ITV and BBC1,

'the key word is empathy. Ordinary viewers need to identify with a sympathetic leading character or set of characters. (These are hopefully played by a relatively small band of actors that inspire loyalty and affection. Usually these actors had some comedy in them and didn't take themselves terribly seriously.) This means avoiding characters (and actors) who are cold, supercilious, cool or trendy.

Avoid situations that ordinary people in ordinary Britain find hard to relate to - metropolitan life, showbiz, journalism, politics, fashion, business. And if you only know those worlds get out of London and meet some other people.

Don't be dark and depressing and don't give us a message of despair or cynicism. We're probably looking for some entertainment so give us colour, pace and a clear concept that can be marketed and understood.

Finally - and this bit is sometimes difficult - don't give us something we've already seen or is very similar to something on another channel.'

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