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Ripper Street Revived!

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Ripper Street, one of my favourite dramas, was unjustly axed last year – but it’s been announced that the BBC has struck a deal with Amazon to bring it back for Series 3, with stars Matthew Macfadyen (Spooks; The Three Musketeers), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones; Soldier Soldier), Adam Rothenberg (Elementary; Alacatraz), and MyAnna Buring (Doctor Who; The Kill List).

Its axing, blamed on supposedly-low ratings but more likely that the show is costly to make, was met with outcry, particularly as Series 2 concluded on a game-changer. The scripts, it seems, have already been written, and Flynn has said that the upcoming run of eight episodes starts filming in May.

Amazon has saved the show with a co-production deal through its Prime Instant Video service (formerly LoveFilm). The online company is expected to air the episodes a few months before they arrive on the BBC.

I honestly think Ripper Street is one of the strongest dramas on TV; I highly advise everyone to seek out an episode from last year’s run, called Am I Not Monstrous?. Merrick’s monologue in last few scenes is just beautiful.

Created by Richard Warlow, you can read the script for Series 1, Episode 1, at the BBC Writer’s Room.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Television

 

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100th Post: Reflecting on Nearly 3 Years

It’s really surprising to see that I started this blog nearly three years ago. And to find that this is my 100th post. Have I really had that many interesting things to say?! Excuse the self-indulgence here, then, as I look back at what’s changed since my very first blog post on 30th April 2010. (In no particular order…)

1. I’m now a freelance writer.
2. I’ve interviewed Matt Smith. (I know; I haven’t said anything about this massive event on this blog yet. But stay tuned!)

Matt and Moffat

3. I launched the Make Mine A Marvel Omnibus site in October 2010.
4. I had my first article printed in Real Travel magazine.
5. I work for the Doctor Who site, Kasterborous.
6. Amy and Rory left the TARDIS last year. (Don’t press me on the matter; I’m still a bit teary.)
7. I have an FdA in Professional Writing. (You can read more about that course here.)
8. Spooks has finished. (Thank God for DVDs!)
9. I’ve started my first novel.
10. I’ve written for the Weston College Higher Education Prospectus.
11. I did the web copy for Lovarzi’s Fourth Doctor Scarf for both their own website and Amazon.

doctor-who-scarf-4

12. As well as doing the official press release!
13. I’ve started my first children’s book.
14. The Amazing Spider-Man reached #700.
15. I’ve worked for Kasterborous’ sister site, CultBritannia (and you can read my first article here.)
16. I’ve learnt how to add videos to my blog!
17. I wrote The British Comedy Guide’s 10th anniversary celebratory article of The Office.
18. I’ve started a few scripts…
19. … And am searching for an agent.

Armstrong and Miller Guide2Bristol review

Armstrong and Miller Guide2Bristol review

20. I reviewed the Armstrong and Miller Tour for Bristol247
21. … And for Guide2Bristol.
22. The latter of which has been quoted on the official A&M website!
23. I copy-edit regularly for Kasterborous.
24. I reviewed the Day of the Daleks: Special Edition DVD for Kasterborous in two parts (here and here).
25. Then reviewed it for ItchyBristol here.
26. I’ve ran two blog advents across December 2011 and 2012.
27. I’ve worked on four Doctor Who ReKapped articles (learn more about that here), with another one in the works.

A Town Called Mercy 3

28. Clara Oswin Oswald has joined the TARDIS (sort of).
29. Neil Armstrong has passed away.
30. And so has Sir Patrick Moore.
31. The Killers have released a new album, Battle Born (and you can read a review of their single, Runaways here).
32. Avengers Assemble! has been released.
33. My review of the Doctor Who graphic novel, The Dalek Project went online here.
34. I’ve contributed two features to the upcoming Kasterborous Magazine (stay tuned for that).
35. Ray Bradbury has died.

The Illustrated Man

36. I’ve joined Twitter!
37. I’ve reviewed the last episode of Sherlock, The Reichenbach Fall, for Cult Britannia.
38. I have worked in a shop, Giggs, during the Christmas 2011 period – a shop which has since gone bust! (Nothing to do with me, I might add.)
39. I’ve read countless books – and you can see my top 10 reads of 2012 here.
40. Two episodes of 1960s Doctor Who have been found!
41. I reviewed Mission to the Unknown for Kasterborous’ Doctor Who@50.
42. The Gunfighters too! (And that’s certainly not the last of my involvement in the project.)
43. I created the Introducing: Doctor Who series for Kasterborous.

The Gunfighters 4

44. Doctor Who Confidential has been axed. (And was voted the best show ever on BBC3. Typical.)
45. I previewed Forbidden Planet’s Doctor Who Fun Day for ItchyBristol.
46. And in a short piece for The Mercury.
47. And finally for Bristol 247.
48. … For whom I also reviewed it.
49. The price of a 1st class stamp has increased to 60p.
50. I reviewed Lovarzi’s Fourth Doctor Scarf.
51. I write a regular column, Bristol Comics Corner, for Guide2Bristol.
52. Death in Paradise debuted on BBCOne.
53. Tuition fees increased, with a cap at £9,000.
54. … Something which I argued against in this Bristol247 article.
55. Brandon Flowers released his first solo album, Flamingo, and I reviewed it here.
56. I was thanked for my article about Jack Vettriano’s Bristol exhibition.

Vettriano on the Bristol247 homepage

Vettriano on the Bristol247 homepage

57. I previewed the Slapstick Festival in 2011.
58. I created my own website, using Moonfruit…
59. Then deleted it, as I wasn’t happy with the inability to update.
60. The Dandy ceased publication. (Read my article on that here.)
61. I’ve submitted an article to the Doctor Who book, Celebrate, Regenerate.
62. The Doctor Who Experience opened in London –
63. – Then moved to Cardiff.

JLC dress and Dalek

64. I reviewed Mack the Life, Lee Mack’s autobiography, for The British Comedy Guide.
65. I interviewed comic writer and artist, Jerry Holliday.
66. The Ice Warriors have been confirmed to return in the second half of Doctor Who, Series 7.
67. The world didn’t end on 21st December 2012. (Always a good thing, I find.)
68. The Bristol Comic Expo returned to Brunel’s Old Station.
69. I previewed the 2012 Expo here.
70. And reviewed it here.
71. The James Bond film franchise hit the big 5-0.
72. My former tutor, Marc Leverton, who’s a freelance writer, has written a guest blog post about his experience of publishers.

How To - Journalism

73. A review of his book, How to work as a Freelance Journalist, can be read here.
74. Steven Moffat has left Twitter. (Again, nothing to do with me!)
75. I’ve seen Steven Moffat at the Doctor Who Experience!
76. Sherlock burst onto television in July 2010.
77. I’ve helped Kasterborous begin their 50th anniversary celebrations with monthly Introduction articles.
78. January’s was Frontier in Space.
79. And this month’s is Vengeance on Varos.

Frontier 3

80. Tying into this, my editor called a second Frontier in Space piece I wrote one of the best articles the site has ever published. A massive compliment. You can read The World Behind: Frontier in Space here.
81. I reviewed Lee Mack’s Going Out live tour for Guide2Bristol
82. … And Bristol247!
83. I’ve visited the National History Museum for the first time.
84. Colin Baker appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
85. My article, Room with a View?, was the most-viewed article on Kasterborous in 2012!
86. I’ve begun work on a number of non-fiction books – but researching is a long task!
87. I reminisced on the anniversary of Matt Smith’s debut as the Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy and Arthur Darvill as Rory here.
88. And celebrated Matt’s Doctor here.

The 11th Doctor

89. I’ve started a short story collection.
90. My jewellery article, With This (Time) Ring…, was surprisingly popular, making the Kasterborous top 10 list of the most-viewed articles of 2012.
91. I looked at the top 10 guest stars in the Tenth Doctor era here and here.
92. I’ve started reading the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
93. T4 On The Beach (held in my hometown) has been cancelled.

David Tennant

94. I’m working on a particularly-exciting documentary idea – though it’s only in development in my head at the minute!
95. I’ve seen Peter Kay live at Manchester’s M.E.N. Arena.
96. Parts of Doctor Who: The Snowmen were filmed in Bristol, as were bits of Night Terrors.
97. I previewed tours by Micky Flanagan, Ed Byrne and Stewart Francis for my local newspaper, The Weston and Worle Mercury.

Micky Flanagan Mercury preview

Micky Flanagan Mercury preview

98. I’ve seen the asteroid, 2012 DA14!
99. I’ve added a new section to my blog: Testimonials.
100. I’ve written 100 posts!

But don’t go anywhere. This is just the start.

Thanks for sticking with me this long.

 
 

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Sir Patrick Moore (1923- 2012)

Sir Patrick Moore, the witty and admirable astronomer and broadcaster, has died at the age of 89.

Moore

After an official statement was released by Moore’s family, friend and Queen guitarist, Brian May, tweeted:

Patrick was very peaceful in his last hours. With his beloved cat Ptolemy purring on his bed. And his pals all around. A great innings.

It’s such sad news, especially as everyone grew up with his enthusiasm encouraging us to always look up and see the wonders of the universe. He became the longest-running host of the same television show ever, having presented the BBCOne staple astronomy programme, The Sky At Night, for over 50 years.

The Sky At Night

I remember watching the show’s 700th episode last year, and thinking what a remarkable achievement it was. Celebrating the milestone on the BBC Blog, ­The Sky At Night co-presenter, Dr. Chris Lintott, wrote:

“When [Sir Patrick Moore] speaks, people listen because they’re confident they will understand his explanations, whether he’s talking about the Moon or black holes.

We needed every ounce of that ability to deal with some of the questions that we had for the 700th programme, which ranged from enquires about alien life to questions about why Venus’ thick, sulphurous atmosphere is so different from that of Earth…

I think everyone involved – except possibly Patrick, who knows everything already – learned something along the way.”

I’m happy to see that Sky+ hasn’t failed me either; the latest episode of The Sky At Night is saved on the box, the last one to be presented by Moore. Presumably, the next episode will be a tribute to the great man, and I hope the BBC take the decision to continue the show far beyond his death. It’s definitely what Patrick would want.

Sir Patrick in Doctor Who

Sir Patrick in Doctor Who

If you’re entranced with the night sky, or just want to see what all the fuss is about, I highly recommend picking up one of his books.

It is, indeed, a sad day… but Moore’s legacy will live on in generations of people all gazing skywards and appreciating the deep, complex and beautiful nature of both the world around us and the entire universe. And that fascination is one that will never die.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Blog Advent - 2012, Space, Television

 

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Luther: Series 1 on Writer’s Room

ADVENT DAY THREE: Christmas. It’s not long away. And to celebrate advent, new content will be added to this blog every day in the countdown to the big day. You’ll see reviews, opinion pieces, links to some of my other work, videos – maybe even a short story! Remember to check back every day (in between the mad rush of packing presents, getting the freezer stocked up and watching Home Alone on repeat).

The BBC Writer’s Room is a great source of inspiration, especially when it comes to their extensive script library. It covers a vast amount of programmes – from Doctor Who to Miranda, Death in Paradise to Spooks – and different mediums too, with radio scripts like Welcome To Our Village, Please Invade Carefully and films like Shifty.

Luther Script Extract

A recent addition is the complete scripts for the first series of Luther, written by Neil Cross. Now, I’ll be honest: I haven’t seen Luther. My brother loves it though, and I plan on catching up.

I really love Neil Cross’ style; I printed off his Spooks script, and it’s truly brilliant. It’s actually one of my favourite episodes… which is incredible considering the standard of its peers. You can read that one here.

Or if you’re a Luther fan, or need to be inspired, you can check out those six scripts by searching ‘Luther’ here. I love the frantic pace, and think it’s really important that the piece’s tone shines through in the descriptions, not just the dialogue.

It’s not one for kids, that’s for sure…

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Blog Advent - 2012

 

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BBC Christmas: It’s Showtime!

ADVENT DAY TWO: Christmas. It’s not long away. And to celebrate advent, new content will be added to this blog every day in the countdown to the big day. You’ll see reviews, opinion pieces, links to some of my other work, videos – maybe even a short story! Remember to check back every day (in between the mad rush of packing presents, getting the freezer stocked up and watching Home Alone on repeat).

The BBC has released their trailer for their upcoming Christmas showcase, featuring a whole host of stars, some extremely popular programmes – and a surprise kiss!

Most notably, there’s Doctor Who, of course. The Snowmen (a title revealed on this year’s Children in Need) will introduce the Doctor to a new (ish) face: Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara. She appeared in Asylum of the Daleks as Oswin Oswald, but what links these two characters (after all, the latter is now a dead Dalek!)? We won’t find out until the series returns next year… but Christmas is sure to be amazing.

Starring alongside the ever-brilliant Matt Smith and Jenna is Richard E. Grant (who you can see with the dreaded Snowmen), and Tom Ward, best-known for playing Dr. Harry Cunningham in Silent Witness.

The Snowmen

Call The Midwife will also be back at Christmas, starring Jessica Raine and Miranda Hart (the latter of whom will have two Christmas shows of her own hit comedy played this year). It’s not a surprise; the show has been the hit programme of the year, with the series finale attracting a huuuuge 11.41 million viewers! Call The Midwife’s second series will air next year too.

There’s also something for the kids with the half-hour animated Room on the Broom, based on the 2001 book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheiffler. Their past two shows, The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, have been big hits of the last two Christmases, and with stars like Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead; Paul), Gillian Anderson (Great Expectations; The X-Files) and Martin Clunes (Doc Martin; Men Behaving Badly), Room on the Broom is sure to be another success.

Room on the Broom

Other shows coming up this Christmas on BBCOne include Mrs. Brown’s Boys, The Graham Norton Show (with Matt Smith!), and Restless, starring Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger; Any Human Heart).

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Blog Advent - 2012, Television

 

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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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How to make your blog titles more SEO-friendly

You can have the most interesting post in the world, but if you don’t use search engine optimisation – or SEO – people won’t read it, and a vital part of this is the title and first paragraph.

Search engines, Google in particular, use ‘spiders’ to trawl through content and bring up the most relevant results. And if you want to get onto that prestigious first page, you need a killer title to every single blog post. But what makes a great title…?

Keywords

So you’ve written a blindingly good post, and you want the whole world to see it. Narrow down what it’s actually about. You could make a list of keywords. Take my post about The Simpsons being mispronounced by Channel 4 presenters. My list would include:

  • The Simpsons;
  • Channel 4;
  • Mispronunciation.

So what did I call it? ‘The Simpsons mispronounced on Channel 4.’ There are more inventive names out there, yes, but it says exactly what it’s about. It gets plenty of hits because my audience know what they’re getting. And that’s the key:

Say what it’s about.

Celebrities

Celebs are popular. So if you’re writing about one, say who in the post’s title! People search for their favourite ‘personalities’ all the time.

My favourite writer is Steven Moffat; in fact, he’s probably one of the only screenwriters Average Joe could name. So I included his name in my post, ‘Steven Moffat on writing for TV.’ Combine his name with a few keywords associated with him – yep, ‘writing’ and ‘TV’ – and people will find the post. And more importantly, they’ll read it too.

Forget puns

You’re a funny guy. I can tell. I mean, ‘ha ha’ funny, not weirdo-funny, and you love puns. You have a great one to use as your title. But wait right there.

People don’t search for puns. Because great puns aren’t clichéd – they’re as close to unique as you can muster. So put them in the text, not in the title. You can try putting them in the first paragraph to show people that you’re a witty blogger who has interesting things to say, sure, but Google’s spiders don’t appreciate all that. They just search for what people type in.

Be topical

Pay attention to the big news stories of the day. And comment on them. Simple. It all depends on how fast you are. If it’s breaking news, and you write about it on the day that interest has peaked, you’ll get hits. After that, interest will decline, but there’ll still be people interested. A few years down the line and you’ll still get readers who thrive on the question, ‘do you remember when…?’

But that’s not all. Because you’ve got to put the news story in the title. Think like a newspaper. What do readers want and need to know?

Let’s use my post on the BBC’s Project Barcelona as an example. It’s topical, and uses the three words – yes, again with the keywords! – people will be looking for: ‘BBC’ and ‘Project Barcelona.’

Google trends

To remain topical, look on Google trends. Google’s suggested searches are also a great help. We’ll use my post on Jeremy Clarkson saying that all strikers should be shot. Firstly, I used his name. He’s a celebrity. Secondly, it was written soon after the controversy started. So it’s topical.

Then I used a direct quote. Why? Because people would’ve heard snippets of it, and certainly the most controversial point of his argument. It’s also suggested by Google.

We all know how annoying the phrase ‘political correctness gone mad’ is. But I put that in there too. People search for it; Google suggests it even as you type in ‘political correctness.’

All together, the final title is… ‘Jeremy Clarkson on strikers: “I would have them all shot.” Political Correctness gone mad?’ I’m sure it looks ugly and long, but it gets readers in and tells them exactly what my post’s about.

The first paragraph

The title goes hand-in-hand with the first paragraph. So make it good. Make your audience read on. Carry on with the keywords; that’s one of the ways search engines judge its relevance.

Once again, think about how newspapers tell their stories. In the first paragraph – or even the first sentence – journalists aim to tell you: who, what, where, when, and why. Perhaps ‘how’ too; it depends on the actual story.

So remember to tell the reader what your post is about using keywords in the title and first paragraph. While it’s not vital you’re topical or mention celebrities, it definitely helps. And don’t try to be too clever by using puns or witty one-liners in the opening: be clever by optimising your blogs so readers can find it easily.

(Thanks to Simon.)

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Unpublished work

 

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