Monday, 1 July 2013

Television Production

Simon Spanton, my editor at Gollancz, caught me in the lobby of Orion House while I was sneaking in to sign some tip-in sheets and congratulated me on the news that my book had been optioned.

‘I want you to blog about it,’ he said.

‘What do you want me to say?’ I asked.

‘Just write about how you feel,’ he said as the lift doors closed in my face.

How do I feel about optioning Rivers of London for Television?

Frankly I’m terrified.

You see this is not my first time venturing into the gibbon infested wilds of television production and given the mauling I got last time I’m not in a rush to return.

And yet. I love television especially the long form, the 9-13 episode series, where a writer can take time to develop characters, explore sub-plots and occasionally take whimsical side-trips. I long for a chance to stand with the wind ruffling my hair on the shores of Lake Photography, to party with the happy but volatile actor tribes of the plain, to join a stalwart band of fellow writers as we hack our way through the plot thickets of the Forest of Outlines and, let’s not be coy about this, climb the treacherous upper slopes of the Mountains of Money.

Television drama production is horrifically hard to do. To anyone who’s had the most cursory brush with actual production the surprise is not that bad television gets made but any television drama makes it to the screen at all. That good television is made is a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of all the people whose names shoot up the screen in a mad rush at the end of the programme – these are the people I look forward to working with.

So if I’m lucky I will, along with hundreds of others, produce something worth watching and if I’m unlucky… well I don’t want to even think about that.


Rosina Ferguson said...

Ben when it comes to commissioning bodies it seems that you have to put your foot down with a firm hand and try not to end up end over base. Seriously though, be determined that they are your characters and your storylines; that is what attracted them and us your loyal readers, in the first place. You have the following and integrity to produce an excellent product. Don't let them bully you.

Unknown said...

I was very excited when I first heard that your books were possibly be brought to television. After reading your blog entry I'm still excited but there's one thing I'd like to say: I don't want a TV version at all costs. Make sure that they are doing it your way, that Peter, Lesley and Nightingale are the way you want them to be or as near as possible to that. If they won't do it your way... Their loss. I'd rather have more books than a television version I'd get upset about.

Unknown said...

Exciting news without a doubt, and I echo the other comments about being true to the characters that you have created, which I'm sure you will be. - Oh, any chance of you sneaking in a little cameo, a la Terry Pratchett?

olracUK said...

If there is US cable money in the mix, we can pray for long form 10 episodes. Even Sky have shown they are up for a punt. But if its UK mainstream, God help us all.

Harlequin said...

Would I be correct to assume that this would be mostly new stories in Grant's world rather than direct adaptations of the existing novels?

Anonymous said...

I second all the previous comments which said: do it right! And by previous experience, do it BBC... The idea of a miniseries of Rivers of London makes me so very excited! ***Happydancing ensues***

David T said...

I also hope that the character of Peter will not look like the muscular, gun-in-one-hand-glowy-magic-in-the-other picture on the US book covers. Too much like CSI:Magic London to work properly.

Unknown said...

oh please please please... and preferably will they pay to clone you, so that you can write three books a year as well as producing a series? If not then I really don't know what our license fee is for.