Giles rocked up at about 3pm to drive me to Sheffield. It didn't feel like six months since we'd last been on the road together. It felt like we might just be on the same tour. I am going to do most of the We're All Going To Die! tour on my own, but if there is some tricky driving or a long stretch away then the Cannibal will be with me. Had I done this one alone then I'd most likely had to stay in Sheffield, but with Giles at the wheel we were back in the Bush by 1am. We were in a hired people carrier, which was hardly Paul Merton's tour bus, but I was able to get on with some work. The first couple of scenes of Chedwood, whatever that is, are pretty much written. Though as I don't plan to benelton it they will almost certainly be unrecognisable by the time of the final draft. After hitting dead ends with it for the rest of the month (even though I knew everything I wanted to do with this first section) I have suddenly get some momentum going in the last two days. I don't really know where it's going next (it's my preferred writing style to not plan too far ahead and then surprise myself) but having four pages of stuff that isn't totally wrong feels good. I even managed to forget about the inevitable disappointment of failure and another year passing with another unmade pilot script in my bottom drawer. Perhaps that's for the best. Maybe if I just write scripts that I like and create worlds that entertain me and don't even consider the fact that one day they might be filmed and put on TV then I have the best chance of producing something original. Which probably makes it less likely to get on TV, but ironically gives it a better chance of being a success if it does. The schedules are full of writers giving the executives what they imagine the executives want, but the shows that become truly popular nearly always break the mould. I suppose I'd rather have a stuffed bottom drawer (it's metaphorical- nearly all of the scripts are in a tiny folder on my computer) than be derivative and give in the British Breaking Bad.
Although the starting point for this script is a West Country Deadwood, so I might well just be talking out of my anus. Ultimately I think if I keep chucking my shit at the wall then eventually either someone will recognise that I am a comedy genius or I will luck across the kind of dumbass, clueless executive who commissions random rubbish and I will get something made. Persistence rewards the master and the fool. It doesn't matter which one I am as long as the result is the same. Right?
I suppose what I am saying is that I may finally have come round to the view that it is fun enough to write these things without fretting about whether they'll get made. They are made in my head. And that's the only viewer I have for anything. So who's to say what is reality and what is fiction and what is produced fiction and what is imaginary fiction?
Don't lose heart, keep going. One day, by accident or skill you might hit your goal. Or realise that hitting the goal isn't as much fun as picking up the ball, running out of the ground and then booting the ball up on to someone's roof. And then running away. That'd be way more memorable than scoring a goal and ultimately just as worthwhile.
The natural conclusion to this is that I write scripts which I never show to anyone but myself (as if, every single thought of mine has to be broadcast, even if no one is monitoring the flow of bullshit), but for the moment I am glad that I am through the patch of my life where I thought, what's the point in going through the pain of writing this stuff, when no one is ever going to do anything with it.
Can I even remember all the scripts I've written since Time Gentlemen Please?
Let's see. They seemed so important at the time.
I Don't Know Who I Did Last Summer - a film script about a man with a sexually transmitted disease having to track down all his recent sexual partners. Written at a time when I was experiencing cock overload due to trying to write the Talking Cock book. I was depressed and lost and I never wrote more than a few pages. Shame as it would make a good sitcom. In fact Channel 4 are doing something pretty similar now. I should have worked harder on it. But I am an idiot. Good title though huh?
Double Act - in the end I wrote two episodes of this comedy drama about a feuding comedy pairing (actually hardly at all based on me and Stew), but took much too long to complete them and the man who liked me had left.
You Can Choose Your Friends - the only one that eventually got made, although I wrote at least two drafts for the BBC, before they rejected it and then wrote the 90 minute version for ITV1.
Relativity - a follow up sitcom to YCCYF which did not got made and then the man who liked me at ITV left the channel.
Absolutely Scrabulous - Scrabble-based sitcom, got as far as a table-read but never made.
Gorgeous - comedy drama set in a Cheddar-like gorge (based on an even older script called "Sex Amongst The Stalagmites" which had got nowhere in the 1990s). This also didn't get beyond script stage.
Ra-Ra Rasputin - another script based on a twenty year rotation system. Initially a mid-90s Edinburgh show. All hope isn't lost on this one though. But don't hold your breath.
I think that's it. I am surprised that it's only eight scripts (though several of them took many drafts) and there were many more ideas that never got beyond the treatment stage. That's twelve years of scripts and only one got produced (though of course if you go back 14 years there are also 37 episodes of Time Gentlemen Please, so it's not all failure to launch. There's an alternate universe where all those shows were made. And it's playing in my head. Who is to say that the inside of my head isn't reality and all the stuff outside is made up?
I am to say that.
The gig in Sheffield was very enjoyable, but it always is. I got over 300 people in - again it always seems to be about that number. I have found everyone in Sheffield who likes me and they always come. I am not complaining. If those 313 people will come and see me every year then I will keep coming back. Just make sure you keep the secret. Any more than that would ruin it!