Thursday, June 26, 2014

I Am Writing TWO Episodes Of Doctor Who

So... they quite liked the first script I delivered and asked me if I'd like to write another. They quite liked that one too. Then they decided to put them next to each other in the schedule as episodes 8 and 9.

No pressure.

Obviously I can't say any more than that, I have checked and I am allowed to say YIPPEEE. Great honour times two. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. That's how it works isn't it?

I should also comment on the attached photo. It was taken during a Who story meeting in a room at the Beeb that just happened to have an old Tardis in the corner. That sort of thing happens there. I commented on it and was told it was a 'real' one used for filming during the Davison era. Mr Moffat mentioned rather glumly that the doors were locked. They'd already tried opening them...

I craned my neck and mentioned that it had no back...

Ten seconds later we were all straining to pull it away from the wall like removal men and giggling like children. I unlocked the door and the posing began.

(As a side note, the t-shirt I am wearing is Johnny Alpha, Strontium Dog, from the pages of 2000AD, drawn by the inimitable Ezquerra. 2000AD REPRESENT!)


Friday, May 16, 2014

Frank Skinner In My Episode Of Doctor Who

So, Frank Skinner is in my episode. Which is very cool.

I was a stand up for a living for quite a few years. When I was trying to figure out how to do it in 1996, his first two stand up videos were part of my boot camp, so there is a nice synchronicity for me to be writing lines for him to deliver nearly twenty years later.

I haven't yet met him, but I'm sure that when I do, no doubt on set, he'll say something nice like: 'I could tell you were a stand up. From the rhythm of the jokes.' and I'll say something self deprecating, and he'll say 'No, really. It's obvious. You can tell when someone knows funny. And you know funny. Your stage time really shows.' and I'll say something about that being high praise indeed coming from him.

And we'll chat some more, like old friends meeting again, our time on the circuit giving us a shared language, a common bond. Soldiers from different fronts of the same war. The war that every comedian fights – the war on sad faces.

And when we finally part, we will be firm friends, with plans in place to meet again and maybe work on something together. But then the number he gave me doesn't work and when I try to reach him through his agent I am given the runaround. But a friend of a friend knows where he lives so I go and visit him and he explains that he gave me an old number. And we laugh about the silly mistake and we hold hands and spin around in a circle laughing until we get dizzy.

Yeah. I imagine that's pretty much how it will go.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Am Writing For Doctor Who

So for all the people who googled me solely because of that fact, and ended up here, this is what you need to know;

I am forty four this year, which means that I was five when the Tom Baker Doctor Who adventure Terror of the Zygons first aired. I have a memory of it being utterly terrifying. And strange. And wonderful. And too much for my tiny mind to deal with.

Out of pure fear, I then decided to avoid Doctor Who for the rest of my childhood. I don't remember much else clearly from the Tom Baker years. I vividly remember literally hiding behind the sofa when the Daleks came on screen and still being able to see them in my head.

I remember Weetabix releasing tie-in Doctor Who cereal boxes and cards when I was seven. Their images are burned indelibly into my mind. They evoke childhood to me in a way that shows of the time never can. In many ways, my Doctor will always be two dimensional and made of cardboard (a fact I truly hope is not reflected in my work on the show).

Fast forward to 2014. I am writing for the British institution, children's nightmare factory and infinite narrative sand-pit that is Doctor Who. Which is an honour. And a joy. And a huge pressure. And very, very cool. And a chance to shine in front of the biggest audience I have ever had. (Or fall flat on my face, but let's not dwell on that.)

And I am going to do my damnedest to knock it out of the park. (I mean come on, if you don't go into writing anything with that as your aim, you're not a writer. With Doctor Who, that goes doubly so.)

A nice bonus of all of this is that I am now the coolest Uncle in the world. To not only my niece and nephew, but also to a bunch of my friend's kids. And I can finally show them something I've written because it doesn't have any swearsees or disemboweling.

Okay, maybe a little...

I am huge nerd in many ways but have never really succumbed to buying action figures. I told myself that if I got the Who gig, I'd buy me a couple. Just a couple.

As I sit writing this, on my desk I have two Tardises, a Tom Baker, a Tennant, four daleks, a Davros and a Matt Smith.

They're clustered around my keyboard. Totemic artefacts of an ancient and wonderful phenomenon with a voracious appetite for stories. And they watch me type. Awaiting the arrival of new monsters, worlds and adventures.

And I open my screenwriting program and I type: THE DOCTOR for the very first time. And I smile. And I put words in his mouth. And I make him run. And think. And fight. And the action figures look on, as another piece of their long never-ending history slots into place.

I love my job.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Alt Is Coming

“There are thousands of worlds out there. All with a version of you and a version of me. And someone is trying to kill us. All of us…”

Imagine: that mate you dumped months ago because he's a tool, rings you out of the blue and asks for help. You go round and he's tripping. Banging on about parallel worlds and killers with swords and you're not really listening to be honest. And the next thing you know the world's changed. Literally changed. Your girlfriend, who was kind of the love of your life, no longer even recognises you. Dead relatives are suddenly alive again. And someone who looks just like you is living your life. Badly.

E4 has commissioned a brand new drama pilot ALT, (1X60’), written by Jamie Mathieson (Being Human, FAQ About Time Travel) and directed by Ben Caron (Derren Brown, My Mad Fat Diary, Tommy Cooper), which will TX on E4 in Spring 2014.

ALT stars Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones) as 24-year-old pragmatic everyman Danny who’s about to move in with his girlfriend Suzy, played by Roxanne McKee (Game of Thrones, Hollyoaks). Craig Roberts (Submarine) also stars as Danny’s stoner and waster ex-best friend Milo. Suddenly finding themselves transported to a parallel universe where they encounter different versions of themselves, the pair soon realise dangerous assassins played by Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, X Men: First Class) and Arsher Ali (Four Lions) seem intent on hunting them down and killing them. With Danny desperate to get back to his own Suzy before it’s too late and he loses her forever, they embark on a series of darkly comic and dangerous adventures in an effort to get back home.

Warning: ALT may contain; swords, guns, doubles, corpses, bickering, bitterness, broken friendship, love, drugs, sex and quantum physics.

Commissioner Beth Willis says “ALT is a mind-bendingly funny pilot for E4 from the pen of Jamie Mathieson and directed by the brilliant Ben Caron. Milo and Danny are wonderful and useless and loveable. Expect the unexpected – and lots of laughs.”

“We’re so pleased to bring Jamie’s hugely inventive and hilarious world to life, and are lucky to have such an incredibly talented creative team and cast – all of whom have given us a bold new show full of fun, wit and adventure” says Damien Timmer from Mammoth Screen.

Commissioned by Beth Willis, and made by Mammoth Screen for E4, ALT goes into production in January 2014 and will TX on E4 later in the Spring. Toby Welch (Skins) is Producer and Executive Producers are Rebecca Keane, Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Know It's Over

So. Being Human is over. Ish.

Obviously for the viewing public, there are still two episodes to air but for anyone involved behind the scenes, it's always a series of little deaths; the last day of shooting, the wrap party, the breaking of the sets.

The writers have their own little landmarks; the last time they type a line of script, meet with production staff or an actor says a line they wrote up on screen.

I've had some fairly ropey writing jobs over the years. Being Human wasn't one of them. It was the first adult drama I was asked to write for and it proved to be a joy. More than that, I would go so far as to say that it was the best job I've ever had. Which sounds a little child-like in it's simplicity. But it's also true.

The best part of the job for me was story lining. Which basically involved sitting in a room with some combination of Toby Whithouse, Phil Trethowan, Polly Buckle and Laura Cotton. And saying 'What if....' for an entire day. And laughing. And debating. And arguing. And laughing some more. And imagining exactly how our vampire, werewolf or ghost would behave in the insane situation we had just dreamt up. And then going home and marvelling at the fact that I was being paid to do this.

In a writer's room, it's wise to keep to the maxim 'best idea wins'. And my scripts benefitted immeasurably from the mighty brains in that room. Notes on my scripts invariably pointed out real problems and offered canny solutions. Which believe me, is not always the case with notes.

That's not to say that the job was always a bed of roses. Being Human is a show that spins a lot of plates and sometimes entire plotlines would be have to be abandoned or massively changed. But this was never done in a capricious or casual way. We all understood that this was a necessary evil, a side effect of never settling for 'just good enough'. Always striving to make the show better.

I considered doing a big list of 'thank you's', naming everyone involved, but I feel that would be a little bit self aggrandising. I've not won a fucking Oscar. I just wrote an episode per series. So I'll end by saying a big thank you to everyone both in front of and behind the camera who helped make this show the success that it is. You know who you are.

And to Lord Tobester himself (yes, that is your name now, suck it up): thanks putting up with four years of my compulsive wise cracking, for letting me turn George all sweary, for giving me a zombie to play with and for letting me bond Tom and Hal over a discussion about virginity. But most of all thanks for taking a chance on a new writer, a little green behind the ears with a knotted hanky on a stick and a dream in his heart.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2000AD and Me

Judge Dredd. Rogue Trooper. Slaine. Halo Jones. Nemesis the Warlock. If you are of a certain age and geek status you'll just know. From the age of nine onwards the comic 2000AD and these characters, this attitude, were a massive part of my mental landscape. Buying the comic on Saturday became a magical ritual. The stories and characters are seared into my memory. Thirty years later I can still quote swathes of it verbatim. My shelves groan with comics and geek ephemera, all of which sprouted from that weekly fix.

But all good things must come to an end. In the mid eighties America opened it's chequebook and lured titan after titan away; Gibbons, Bolland, Moore, O'Neill. One day I looked through the comic on the shelf in the newsagents and it just seemed limp and lifeless. For the first time in a decade I left without buying it. I've dipped in occasionally since, but it's like checking out an old lover on Facebook: she's doing different things without me with people I don't recognise.

In it's prime the comic had an outlook, a satirical perspective and very distinct sense of humour which had a huge effect on my creativity. It also shamelessly mixed genres in a way which now seems second nature to me.

So thank you, 2000AD, and all who sailed in you. You opened a door in my head which I've never even tried to close since, have given me immense pleasure and more importantly a career. Of the three projects I am currently being paid to work on, there isn't one that would look out of place between your pages.

Your children have grown up strong and we're doing just fine.

Tears Of A Nerd

I keep trying to sneak nerdy shout-outs into my scripts. None of them ever make it to the screen and it hurts my soul every time that I fail.

Let me give you a little run down of my failures:

In 'FAQ About Time Travel' Pete's lighter has 'FUCK COMMUNISM' stencilled on it. Like the one in the comic 'Preacher' and later in the comic 'Y-The Last Man'. I even wrote a scene where you saw a close up of the lighter. But as I was the only comic reading nerd on the production, the idea was met with blank looks of incomprehension and the shot never made the final cut.

In last year's episode of Being Human that I wrote, 'The Graveyard Shift' I suggested in the script that gothic Vampire wannabee Michaela should have ankh eye make-up, like Neil Gaiman's Death character. I soon learnt that suggestions to the make-up department is like suggesting camera angles to the director. And so it never happened. But imagine the squeals of nerd delight had it come to pass...

And in this year's episode of Being Human that I wrote, 'Pie and Prejudice', at the point when Tom comes running downstairs to tell Alex that 'Hal's got a girlfriend', we wanted Alex to be reading something when he entered. I wrote in the script that she was reading the comic 2000AD. We went as far as writing off to them to get a few copies and their approval.

In the actual episode, she has some magazine open on her lap, which could literally have been anything. Possibly even the galaxy's greatest comic. I couldn't tell you. I was too busy weeping hot salty tears as I failed yet again to shout out to my nerd brethren.

Still, I had a little cameo. Which is probably the nerdiest thing anyone could possibly do. I think you can just see my head in the screenshot below.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I am now on Twitter


One hundred and fourteen followers. Not that I'm counting. First impressions; it's like a very slow gig where loads of people just stare and occasionally people tut and walk out.

Oh, that's quite good. I should tweet that.


Writer's Guild of Great Britain Awards 2012

"Best TV Drama Series: Being Human - Toby Whithouse, Tom Grieves, John Jackson, Lisa McGee, Jamie Mathieson"

So I won an award. Which was nice. Well, technically, on eighth of an award. As I wrote one episode in an eight ep run.

Toby has already won two solo Writer's Guild awards for Being Human. I think we can all see the burning resentment in his eyes at having to share the stage this time around.

As we left the stage, I mentioned that he'd already got two of these things cluttering his mantel, so maybe he should... Toby finished my sentence for me. 'You're absolutely right. I'll leave it with Touchpaper.' (The production company)