Imaginary Worlds

“Critics and cultural commentators have finally realised what writers, readers and audiences have known for years – that fantasy writing can – and does – tackle adult themes in a unique and exciting way, and that imaginary worlds are not just for children.”

Leading with that quote, I feel like some pathetic, shy kid at the prom seeking reassurance, but anyone interested in fantasy knows the kind of comments we hear on a daily basis. For that reason alone, it’s heartening to find a leading organisation celebrating everything we hold dear, in this case the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. From their promo:

“The Writers’ Guild presents Imaginary Worlds on Thursday 1st November from 7pm – 8:30pm at the Writers Guild Centre, 17 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JN (Nearest tube: King’s Cross). Celebrate the recent resurgence in British science fiction and fantasy, by talking to the writers behind the boom.

“Britain’s other great literary tradition has always been a hit with the public – from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World, 20th. Century classics by John Wyndham, H.G. Wells and Nigel Kneale, to the recent boom in graphic novels and even more recent box office successes such as Dog Soldiers and 28 Days Later.

“Confirmed panellists for the discussion include Guild members Ashley Pharaoh, one of the creators of Life on Mars and Adrian Hodges, a co-creator of Primeval. Further speakers will be confirmed closer to the date. To book for this event, please post a cheque to: Imaginary Worlds, Writers’ Guild, 15-17, Britannia Street, London WC1 X 9JN. Please make the cheque payable to: “Writers’ Guild of Great Britain”. Tickets cost £5 for Guild members and £7.50 for non members.”

Bloodsuckers

Not so long ago, author and screenwriter Stephen Gallagher was commissioned by the BBC to do a new take on Dracula.  Cue weeks of epic thinking and slaving over the script to produce what was, by all accounts, a scary, refreshing approach.  On the day of delivery, he was called up by an executive to say the project had been cancelled.

Apparently the BBC’s major rival, ITV, had a similar project in a more advanced state of development.  With Martin Kemp as Dracula and the Cheeky Girls as his Brides.  Now that’s something to give you sleepless nights.

Not wanting to appear Johnny-come-latelies, the BBC understandably pulled the plug.  Except the BBC executive had been conned over lunch.  ITV hadn’t even prepared a script.

Stephen maturely chalked it up to the machinations of the TV industry and moved on.  Though he might have felt a twinge of bitterness when Martin Kemp announced in a radio interview that the ITV Dracula was a non-starter because the script ‘wasn’t working’.

To prove the value of Stephen’s Dracula script, the BBC got back in touch and asked if they could use it to teach structure on the in-house script editors’ course.  It’s nice to get that kind of recognition for a fine piece of work.

So why have the BBC commissioned ITV Productions to go ahead with the Martin Kemp Dracula script (now to star Marc Warren) when they’ve got such a fantastic script sitting in house?

Within the last few months ITV also screwed up Stephen’s Eleventh Hour science-adventure drama.  He must be feeling that the BBC and ITV are now teaming up to give him a good kicking.  Ya big bullies, leave him alone!