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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Did Titanic sink Wild at Heart?

ITV’s Wild At Heart has been axed after seven series, and – according to The Daily Mirror – the cast are blaming the Julian Fellowes-penned drama, Titanic.

An undisclosed ‘source’ supposedly told the paper:

“The feeling is that they sunk so much money into Titanic that they are having to make savings elsewhere and we are bearing the brunt of that. We’re all gutted that it has come to this. There are shows that would kill for 7.5million viewers.”

The show has been rumoured for the chop since February, and I can’t really see how this is a valid argument. Titanic was a lavish, costly production, obviously, but Wild at Heart is a popular family show that has run its course.

Jenna-Louise Coleman in 'Titanic.'

Wild at Heart – created by the fantastic Ashley Pharaoh (Life on Mars; Ashes to Ashes) – tells the story of the Bristol-born Trevanions adjusting to a new life in South Africa. The show’s strengths lay in its beautiful vistas and animals, strong characters and insight into another life.

The show has remained a firm favourite of many families since its initial transmission in 2006, returning to screens every January, and running into March. However, the average number of viewers has dropped, with series one getting an average of 9.67 million and has wavered around the 8 million mark ever since. Last series, though, dropped to an average of 6.73 million – a rating that still dented BBC’s Upstairs, Downstairs – taking a hit opposite the immensely popular Call the Midwife and Sherlock.

ITV's 'Titanic.'

As the ‘source’ says, though, the ratings are still competitive… but surely it’s best to end it on a high than let it dwindle away into obscurity.

The series will be given a 2-hour finale, to be filmed in September, and broadcast next year; something that many cancelled shows don’t get the privilege of.

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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Television, Unpublished work

 

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My experience with publishers

Guest post by Marc Leverton.

Personally, I have found the experience of dealing with publishers to be fairly straight-forward.

I think one of the keys to this is that both of my books have been published by independent publishers. Things tend to be easier with them. They are smaller, easier to get through to and hopefully get fewer approaches from hopeful writers than the big publishing houses. My first book [How to work as a Freelance Journalist] was published by How To Books after I got chatting to them at the London Book Fair. I sent them a synopsis afterwards and was given the green light.

There are other advantages too: a small independent publisher is often hungrier and needs your book to do well. I have read countless authors complaining that their books have become ‘lost’ and have barely been promoted. ‘Indies’ have fewer overheads, so can spend more time focusing on you and your book. That is not to say that it is down to the publisher to promote your book; I think the author has to take more of the onus on now for promoting their books. Some authors are better at this than others.

There are similar rules for approaching any sized publisher: have a good synopsis and show them that you have researched the potential market for your book. One thing that I will say is not to rely on your advance for making a living; the six figure sums you see in The Bookseller are only for the lucky few. I heard recently that most authors make around £5,000 per year from their books. So it is probably wise to keep that other job on for a little while yet until the writing career really takes off.

The Naked Guide to Bristol

Having sung the praises of independents, I am now in the lucky situation of having an agent who is doing all the donkey work of finding a publisher for my third book. I am hoping they will find me a bigger deal, with a bigger advance and find me a Publisher with more marketing clout. The theory is that they get you a better deal than you would get for yourself, which pays for their 10%. Plus they have more contacts in publishing, increasing the chances of success. Having done the work for myself in the past, I appreciate someone else’s faith in my work. I just hope that it pays off.

Marc Leverton is a freelance writer, who lives and works in and around Bristol. Aside from lecturing for Bath Spa University, he has written for The Guardian, Venue, Bristol Review of Books, and many more as a freelance journalist. He also worked as Publisher on The Big Issue for six years.

Since going freelance in 2006, Marc has written two books, and is currently working on his third (after a stint as a ghostwriter). How to work as a freelance journalist is an essential, comprehensive guide to the industry, while Banksy: Myths and Legends looks at the mysteries surrounding the influential graffiti artist, packed with fun facts and fantastic photos. He was also a contributor and co-editor of the 2011 update of The Naked Guide to Bristol. You can follow him on Twitter, or visit his blog.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Guest Posts

 

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Ricky Gervais on Derek and offending an audience

Ricky Gervais’ new comedy pilot, Derek, airs on Channel 4 this Thursday, but the vultures are already circling…

Disability rights campaigner, Nicky Clark, interviewed the award-winning comedian about Derek, as the title-character is being criticised before the show is even broadcast! Their main issue is, apparently, that the titular character is disabled; however, Gervais denies this:

“He’s different. But then so are a lot of people. He’s not the smartest tool in the box but he’s cleverer than Father Dougal, and not as different as Mr. Bean. He’s based on those people you meet who are on the margins of society. Nerds, loners, under achievers.”

These criticisers seem to have more of an issue with Gervais himself, in fact; he certainly has previous with offending people, though. He seems to have become synonymous with the word ‘mong’ now, as many were offended by its use on Twitter – despite the fact he’s been using it on-air for many years previously (particularly when near his mate, Karl Pilkington).

Mrs. Clark, though, maintains that Derek is actually “the story of a socially isolated, gentle vulnerable man surrounded by other people who society wants to forget, but told with humour, heart and real warmth. It’s a comedy in my opinion, which shows the reality of a life of otherness.”

I’ve talked about how political correctness is definitely an issue for writers when Jeremy Clarkson said that all strikers should be shot, and Gervais explores this more here:

“I see offence as the collateral damage of free speech. I hate the thought of a person’s ideas being modified or even hushed up because someone somewhere might not like to hear them.

Outside actually breaking the law or causing someone physical harm “hurting someone’s feelings” is almost impossible to objectively quantify.

What some people might find offensive, others will not. Such is life. Offence is rarely about right and wrong but rather about feelings. Feelings are personal. Trying to have a consensus about what is objectively offensive is rather like arranging books in a library in order of merit. We’d all have a completely different order in mind.”

And I definitely agree. Somebody will always take offense. It’s interesting how times have changed, and how this can be portrayed onscreen.

In Doctor Who: Human Nature/ The Family of Blood, the year is 1913 and the Doctor’s companion, Martha, is accused of lying by Nurse Redfern because “women can’t be doctors.” Martha proves her wrong, of course, but then look at Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, someone who wears his beliefs proudly. Sure, Sam Tyler and Alex Drake consider him ignorant, but he’s a lovable character, who the audience rooted for every week.

But once again, I’m sure many took offence.

The real question here is: is it more important to tell a strong, determined story than be confined by worries that people will be offended? Yes, it depends on the writer, but we all really know the answer to this, don’t we?

Don’t forget to watch Derek on Thursday; I’m sure it’ll be hilarious and heart-warming. Plus, it stars Karl Pilkington!

It’s just a shame it looks as if Channel 4 won’t be commissioning a full series.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Unpublished work

 

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