Wednesday, 13 February 2008

My "career" as a sitcom writer

So when I worked making shows about video games I yearned to work on shows NOT about video games. Hey, I like dem games and that, especially back then when buckets of red wine and aeons of age hadn't addled my reactions, but I wanted to work on something proper.

I got it into my head to write a sitcom. Genius idea, eh?

Well, no it's not. It's The Stupidest Idea Ever. Sitcoms are not only hard to get right, they're damn near impossible. And there was me, a year or so into a tv career, thinking "Hey, I'll do the next Fawlty Towers. I can do that, me. Oh yes."

I wrote up an idea. It was - and still is - a good idea, and I wrote it up... well, in an OK style, this was well before I'd churned out a gabillion programme proposals so it was a bit rough. Although I did do stickman sketches of all the characters. Which was nice.

I put this idea, stickmen and all, in the one place my boss would find it. No, not her intray, her desk or as a free pullout in that day's Sun but in my top drawer. That's where I kept the chocolates and sweeties she would raid at 10pm in the evening when bashing out programme proposals.

I know, I've mentioned this before, but she'd leave 12p for a bit of Galaxy, or a pound and take the whole drawer away. She was a I-always-pay-my-way style lady. On the wages she paid me that was just as well.

She didn't hit the chocos for a couple of days; each morning I'd get to work and my sitcom idea was there. It got to Friday and I noticed a few chocolate buttons had gone and 10p was there, but the idea remained undisturbed. I reckon she'd looked at it and laughed at me. Not in a good oh-this-is-comedy-genius way, but in a it's-so-bad-he's-had-to-draw-stick-men stylee.

I went into the weekend with a heavy heart, and came into work on Saturday morning to pick up some games for filming first thing Monday, to avoid a 5am start.

And the shitcom scribblings were gone! Gulp! I was sooooo excited all weekend. The filming lasted all day Monday but I turned up to work early on Tuesday. My friend Hester said the boss had been pacing around, reading some document and hooting with laughter continuously, asking where I was and saying the phrase "He's a genius. A fucking comedy genius!" over and over again.

Me? A genius? I almost wet myself. I went to my desk and started the glamorous process of ringing up video game companies and begging for those deadly dull press-button-A-X-Y-B to skip a level cheats that made up a lot of my job.

And then she burst in. The boss. She came over and grabbed my shoulder.

"Come with me, young man, no more games' cheats for you, you're a fucking comedy genius", she bellowed, as everyone else looked on with their mouths hanging open.

And I went into her office, as she said to the PA to get us a pot of tea and some biscuits. I heard a small gasp from the office at the request for biscuits. They only ever came out when Channel 4 turned up. They were for celebrities or tv bigwigs, not the likes of a lowly Researcher Boy like me.

I could sense my career in telly was on the way up.

And... well, come back soon for the thrilling conclusion. I've got to write up this thing about a dog. Then this thing about a bird that's a doctor. That's a feathery bird not a sexist term for a ladywoman. And then this thing about- ok, ok, I'll go now.

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