Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How I accidentally didn't write this week's Torchwood

Just over a year ago, I was one of the writers on the BBC's fictional Torchwood website (along with TV's Helen Raynor and TV's Joseph Lidster), coming up with silly fictional things from Torchwood's history. One of these stories was about how Torchwood kept a man frozen in the cellar. They'd defrost him once a year, give him a day out, and then pop him back in the freezer. No-one knew why he was there, they were just waiting for his time to come.

The script editor of the site was Helen Raynor, who said rather kindly, "That's a good idea, you should do something with that."

A few months later, we're sat in my flat. We're talking mostly about how vodka and cherryade is the best drink ever. Helen isn't convinced, but being a trained script editor, is keeping her face pleasantly neutral as she sips away with barely a shudder. Helen is casting around for ideas for her next Torchwood. I pipe up about the man in the freezer. Helen says something terribly polite, and that she'd like to look into it as an option, if I wouldn't mind, and are there any more onion rings?

I wake up the next morning mostly wishing I'd cleaned my teeth better, as my mouth tastes of cherryade and onions. But there's a vague feeling of excitement.

A few days later I get a curiously legal email from a script editor on Torchwood asking about contracts, rights and contributors on the Torchwood website. I reply formally, adding at the bottom "If this means what I think it does, then yes I did, yes you own it, and I'm delighted".

That afternoon Helen comes thundering down a corridor and takes me outside for a cigarette. There's snow and Derek Jacobi everywhere. She's brutally honest - the idea is loved, it's being changed almost completely, and there's talk of giving me some credit, but that'll go nowhere.

A few weeks later she gives me a script - which is brilliant and moving, and has taken a tiny idea and changed it into a horror-ghosty-romance-drama. Wow. I get to feel immensely proud, but without being able to claim any credit for the achievement. This must be what Take That's aunts feel like.

A few months later, I get to see a rough cut of it, and gush with mildly fraudulent pride - just as Jordan must when she sees one of her books.

So there you go. Helen's done a lovely thing. At the end of the day, I don't get an on screen credit - but I do get to be enormously pleased.

This blog post was written by James Goss
From an original idea by Helen Raynor


FireFawkes said...

This mean I can't slag it off when they make a horrible mess of it again?

Or, since you've seen the rough cut already, does it fall under the rare "rather good episode" category of Torchwood (of which there are like three)?


Perry Neeham said...

It's handcrafted gems like, "I feel immensely proud, but without being able to claim any credit for the achievement. This must be what Take That's aunts feel like." That keep me coming back.

Just so you know.

Skip said...

Oh, bless you Perry. And Fawkes, I think it's the most exciting thing ever for many lovely reasons.

Anonymous said...

I will be watching with excitement. Congratulations, the idea is the most important thing.

Lippy said...

I knew there was something horribly familiar in your genetic make up - the night my husband and his siblings spent on the gin and cherryade (because it was the only flavour left for the sodastream) is the stuff of legend. That and the naked racing around Worcester race course, they would have been fine if they hadn't tried to jump the hurdles.

But that wasn't what I intended to say at all - you write beautifully, and your ideas are genius. It's only a question of when it all comes together with the perfect result.

GalFord said...

I got pointed in the direction of your blog from someone on my friends list at Livejournal...

Amusing, insightful, factual and full of lego... I do not dare to miss a post! :)

Skip said...

bless you all. and oh - after this weekend, i have stories, but i dare not share them.

Orchis said...

Tease !